-Why play shoot 'em ups one ship at a time? Launch them all at once!Unleash an entire armada of ships in Shoot 1UP!-* 1UPs INSTANTLY ENTER THE ACTION!* Command over 30 ships at the SAME TIME!* Arrange ships to charge the devastating PLASMA AUGER!* 2 Player coop play for over 60 SIMULTANEOUS player ship INSANITY!* 6 BIZARRE levels!* Manic Shooting for NORMAL GAMERS! v 1.3
Mommy's Best Games' Shoot 1UP explores the idea of taking a traditional shooter and having the player control a whole fleet instead of a single craft. Players control the Caduceus plalanx by expanding or contracting the group's formation with the triggers. When the fleet is spread out, they unleash a powerful super laser but at the expense of making the squadron more vulnerable to enemies and their shots. I had thought this was a unique concept to the shooter genre, but tworeplies to a Kotaku post I had written noted that Sega's 1982 vector arcade title Tac/Scan and Nichibutsu's 1985 vertical arcade shooter Terra Cresta have already explored the idea to some degree.
Shoot 1UP may not have been the first, but it's still a really neat and rarely seen mechanic. There are no power-ups or weapon options available in the game; instead, extra ships are added to the fleet, increasing the amount of lasers fired just by their presence.The player can control up to 30 ships, fanning them out for a screen filling wave of death and destruction or packing them in tight for a more concentrated and mobile attack force. I like the risk/reward system employed here as players can certainly expand the fleet to spread out the fire and call upon the giga laser of doom, but doing so makes it harder to navigate the enemy fire and swarms and escape intact. The player can also exercise a shield attack by resting the fire button for a second and then releasing once the shield has formed, doing strong close range damage to all nearby enemies and dissolving harmful bullets in the shock, a potent tactic not to be dismissed, particularly as one's fleet grows in number.
Unfortunately, Shoot 1UP has to be a bit loose with the difficulty given the premise of having up to 30 ships on screen (up to 60 in two-player mode, obviously). The game just isn't all that difficult, even on the more challenging settings. Bosses are enormous pushovers, rarely threatening the player smart enough to condense his or her fleet to weave through the few on screen threats. The game does support repeated loop runs for extra challenge for what it's worth, but the difficulty never rises to something more becoming of the genre. Shoot 1UP sells itself on its interesting ship formation dynamic and the ability to veer off the vertical path halfway through each of the six stages, allowing the player to either choose to switch the forced scroll to another direction or fly freely around the map at will. It's another innovative turn for Shoot 1UP, a game which feels more like an experiment for Mommy's Best Games than any serious effort to make a quality indie shooter.
Shoot 1UP comes across as a bit of a lazy effort with its huge but crudely designed levels and enemies. The level Miaplacidus (shown above) is just a gray background with a handful of dead killer whales strewn about as scenery. The levels are heavily tiled and just ugly to look at, typically without any parallax and drawing from a bland palette. The bosses overcompensate for their lack of animation with their enormous size; they are mostly constructed of layers of flat, lifeless sprites which will move around along a joint to allow for motion but little else in the way of personality or real animation. The final boss, this huge crab beast with at least a dozen legs, just floats around in the void while absorbing shots from the player. Given the excellent graphics of Weapon of Choice, I know Mommy's Best Games can do much better than what is given to us in Shoot 1UP, although the number of sprites due to the fleet design might have been a factor in scaling back the graphics so much. On the plus side, there isn't a hint of slowdown, but when the graphics are this barebones, anyone would be shocked if it did even with all the stuff on the screen (and there is a lot).
The absence of on-line leaderboards is disappointing as always, but I'm happy to see the game fully playable with the arcade stick thanks to being able to remap the triggers to the main buttons. Between the multiple modes of play, awards, and an extra ship to unlock, Shoot 1UP offers players a good value for their dollar. Despite the low end presentation, it remains a fun and interesting game, worth looking into by any shooter fan.