2D space shooters aren’t exactly the norm in today’s world of realistic graphics, but whenever a space shooter does surface it usually has to bring something new to the table. Blasting through hordes of enemies and the perils of deep space to the sounds of repetitive techno/trance music sums up Big Infinity Sky, developed by VooFoo Studios and Boss Baddie. Sticking to the old arcade days where score ranking was the goal of your playing, BIS brings variety and scenarios to keep your attention and reactions focused. This game has been released for both the PSN and Vita; I took the opportunity to play it on both, but there are no real differences between the two.
The setting for BIS is very simple, you are a ship and you must shoot everything that isn’t you. These guys stand for everything you are against (maybe). The game takes you through a standard tutorial that unfortunately can’t be skipped. You learn the simple controls that consist of move, shoot, and drill. It doesn’t just tell you how though, it also has a very loud English man with a sense of video game and pop culture humor. Thankfully, the developer had enough sense to give you the option to mute the guy.
The controls in BIS feel like they’ve been pulled right from an arcade cabinet, with a twist. Traditionally you’d use one joystick for movement and two or more buttons for attacks/specials. The first half is true, but in BIS the second analog stick handles your primary firing weapon. This I found to provide a unique feel in gameplay, as you aren’t just looking to the right for enemies to come out, but to every side. When things get hectic enough you’ll be glad you can fire like a mad man in a complete 360 degrees.
Once you are familiar with the controls you’ll be presented with the variety the game has to offer. Though some of the modes are locked in the beginning, you’ll start with Arcade, Peaceful, and Classic. Arcade is just how it sounds, you play and it gets harder. You die, and you start all over. Peaceful is a mode I have trouble understanding why anyone would play it; even to pass time there are better modes. Classic mode was the most entertaining to me—it’s basically Arcade mode with a post-level up shop to upgrade the ship into an alien blasting Death Star. There is more variety in the Boss Rush, Pacifist, and (my personal favorite) Hell modes. These modes are only unlocked by completing certain parameters in Arcade and Classic. On my first playthrough I managed to unlock three new modes, so it isn’t extremely demanding, but there are harder goals to reach if you have the drive to unlock them.
Variety seems to be the keyword for describing this game. You have different modes, and each brings its own flavor of gameplay. The gameplay is also different every time you load up a level. There are no concrete enemy patterns or appearances aside from the occasional boss battle, which can be the first enemy you come across, oddly enough. It keeps the gameplay refreshing every time you load, but unfortunately it also means you may have nothing to shoot for as long as several minutes. That’s like years in gamer time!
Once you get the hang of things and have a few runs under your belt, you’ll begin to notice the distinct look BIS has.2D horizontal space shooters don’t require a whole lot of graphical horsepower, but that hasn’t stopped BIS’ developers from creating an impressive design. The backdrop has a lot of nebulae and colors that will catch your attention. Luckily the enemies are color varied, so you can always tell what you should shoot. As good as the design may be though, the most common way to lose in the beginning is by hitting things you didn’t realize could kill you. It could be that the shallow tutorial didn’t prepare me for environmental hazards, or maybe the developers had planned for you to learn as you go. It was frustrating to be killed by something easily avoided, such as fog, or rocks that appeared to be in the background.
Accompanying your journey into deep space genocide are the bass pumping sounds of techno music, and an English guy. Seriously, the sound is a flurry of techno and trance songs that can actually gave me a second wind at times to blow up enemy ships. At first you’ll find the video game referencing voice funny, but after a couple of repeated lines it becomes annoying. Luckily you can silence him in the options menu as well as check out the albums of music you can set. Acting as a set of unlockables/rewards, there are a dozen albums of music you can blast to your liking (or mute to better hear the ensuing carnage). Enemy sound effects seem to be most appealing because they closely resemble, or are sampled from, Space Invader enemy sounds. This could the developer’s way to pay homage to the classic.
2D spaces shooters are rare, which means they need to have some kind of unique feature or angle that hasn’t been done before. Big Infinity Sky makes an attempt and does a decent job, but unfortunately not enough to keep you interested. The graphics are superb and the controls are smooth and feel good to play with, but it still isn’t enough to deserve complete dedication. Though it is rough around the edges where the voice over narrator and environmental hazards are concerned, it is still a complete experience from the gameplay standpoint. It’s a score based game so the only goal is to try to out score people on the high-score board—something that is really only going to attract a certain crowd. Personally, I couldn’t find much motivation to keep picking up BIS. It has great music and controls that have fluidity in use, but that still can’t save it from being bland. It is missing something that encourages you to play it more and because of that the “wow” factor is greatly diminished.