Game Preview: Fission Superstar X
Fission Superstar X is an indie action, side-scrolling, shoot 'em up game set in space that has been developed and published by Turbo Pelvis 3000 in Canada. Set for a release in early 2019 for
Windows via Steam and the Xbox One, this colourful and funny (funny "haha" not funny "hmm") rogue-lite shooter is anything but easy!
Full disclosure: I am not an active gamer. I came out of retirement just to preview this game and I don't think I was disappointed at all with how well it was put together, from the background music to the sound engineering, the ship designs, the characters and how much life was etched into this fictional corner of the galaxy, but more on that later.
The story and theme of the game is set in the future and follows the deranged musings of Dr Leopold, who decides to dress up a nuclear bomb he's lovingly named Celine as he dreams of sending her out into the Solar System to perform on musical stages on each planet.
The doctor himself is snugly and safely tucked away on Planet X, which exists just outside our solar system. For this plan he instead sends out a clone of himself on a spaceship with Celine happily strapped to it and your job is to pilot this ship through the Solar System to Earth and detonate the bomb. If you don't make it - and you won't as this is a rogue-lite game after all - the game creatively lets you start again with a new, improved clone and the option either to include another clone crew member or a specialised weapon you can only purchase much later.
After you set off into space on your misguided mission you navigate through enemies piloting ships that are, in the beginning, very simple to defeat and from which you salvage money as well as extra energy from their debris. Honestly, I've never been so lulled into a false sense of security by a game like this in my life. The first few levels are so casual. Very little attention or thought is needed to get through enemies that come at you one at a time and, with a screen full of space, it's easy to position yourself within your limited shooting range to get to the most advantageous spots to blow them into road kill (space kill?).
Then, all of a sudden, the difficulty gradient throws you into high gear. Whether that is a misbalancing on the part of the developers or integral to the rogue-lite experience, I was not ready! I was blown to bits and had to start the game again. The reincarnation system via cloning forces the player to get better with each playthrough as the player needs to make what are effectively all
long term decisions for the servicing of your ship, the space routes you navigate, the weapons you chose and the crew members that you recruit at every crew recruiting pit stop.
The crew recruiting areas are where I gained the biggest appreciation for the background music used in the game. The pivot from the dramatic battle themes and simulated combat noises of the future to the chipper 16-bit club music playing in the bars really lets your mind rest from the fatal-false-move endurance match your mind plays with the game. The crew recruiting bars are a colourful backdrop for a selection menu you can use to recruit new crew members. The candidates come with different skill levels for various tasks and a price for their services. Even the clone pilot is replaceable, much to the inconsequential disapproval of Dr Leopold who is in infrequent communication with the ship for some moments of banter and sometimes even to offer helpful information.
The wide assortment of crew members includes parodies of characters from popular culture, including Sonic The Hedgehog and the T-800 Terminator, but whomever you choose to hire will fall into one of four roles - pilot, engineer, scientist, and medic - that you need filled in order to survive the long Solar System tour. Each role also adds a weapon on its section of your craft. The pilot's job is to increase the skills of the other crew members. The engineer is tasked with making mid-flight repairs after each level. The scientist is charged with generating the ship's force field. The medic, like the engineer, can heal crew members after a level - to a certain degree.
There are enough enemy ship designs and weapon combinations on them to make me feel as if I'm not shooting down the same ship over and over. The only feature of the game design that pulls me out of the experience is the backdrop, which speaks to the vastness of space and relative motion but when I wasn't dodging space cows, freight ships, and the odd quantum singularity the static background made me feel like I wasn't jetting through space. It does however serve as a calmer and less cluttered, nerve wrecking escape from the other littered space routes you will encounter.
The planet bosses are tough and the terror of making a mistake while battling them can make you slip up in a self-fulfilling cycle of self-doubt but with enough hours clocked on the game the nerves fade into the cosmos and you can combine tactical flight with some well timed attacks and counters to power through to victory eventually. After each boss you have a pretty crucial choice: fumble along in your post-boss battle wreckage into more treacherous space or detonate Celine on the planet you've conquered, which will earn you a new model ship with an improved characteristic to fly and will start your tour again from Planet X.
I played a preview of the game in the form of a demo version as the game, which is by Canadian developer Turbo Pelvis 3000
, is still in development and is scheduled for release in early 2019. Consequently some of the features still feel incomplete, including the function of turning off the turrets of each of the character stations that you collect. It makes little to no sense that I would want to do that mid flight so I'm interested to see how this feature is expanded upon and explained when the game launches. Another is the collection of DNA points, which are the points used to improve your clone in the areas of "Aim", "Armor", or "Skill" before each launch. As you only start the game with three each time I would be happy to know how to get more.
All in all I like the game so far. I'm both keen and terrified to see how far I get before I ultimately snap and Dr Leopold's dream of having Celine perform on stage starts to make sense.
Fission Superstar X: Facebook
Fission Superstar X is scheduled to launch in early 2019 for
Windows (via Steam) and the Xbox One. A pre-release copy of the game for
Windows via Steam was provided for preview purposes by Turbo Pelvis 3000.
, Speculative Fiction
At brainwavez.org our mission is to publish quality content for the web site and our airwavez channel on YouTube. We research, we fact check, and we revise before publishing. We focus on in depth reporting and are proud that much of what's in the archives is still worth reading years later.
Please support our independent journalism with a tip via Ko-fi
. Every bit helps and is much appreciated.