There’s no shortage of shoot ’em ups on modern consoles. Whether it’s a remastered classic or something a little more modern, there are plenty of them to choose from. And, well, there’s no real reason why you’d choose Shootvaders: The Beginning over any one of its competitors. But for its paltry asking price – just £5.79 on PlayStation – you’ll get more than your money’s worth of entertainment here.
As far as vertically-scrolling shooters go, Shootvaders: The Beginning is as simple as they come. Holding your right trigger fires a barrage of bullets: depending on your ship’s loadout you’ve probably got a mixture of guns and alien tech, all firing at once. Pushing one button will put up a shield (providing you’ve picked one up) and another fires a powerful “megabomb”. That’s all there is to it. It’s just down to you to shoot your adversaries and dodge their incoming fire.
The developers of Shootvaders have definitely taken the approach of “the more the merrier” when it comes to level design. Your screen will be teeming with enemies: basic-looking alien ships that periodically fire back at you. It’s easy enough to shoot your way through them in the earliest levels, but as you progress, dodging their fire becomes tricky business. Especially when their bullets aren’t always visible between various pick-ups and your own fire. Needless to say, the screen is constantly busy and keeping track of exactly what’s going on is easier said than done.
Unlike other games in the genre, you’ll never find yourself facing off against one single, sophisticated enemy in Shootvaders: The Beginning. Rather, it prefers to throw dozens of smallfry at you at once – it feels more like Space Invaders in that regard. Not all enemies are created equally at least: you will find some adversaries with attacks that do more damage and others have more HP, requiring more of your bullets before they’re destroyed. But that’s as varied as things ever really get.
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Between every few waves of enemies, Shootvaders: The Beginning tries to mix things up by introducing you to a “narrow alley” level. Here, you don’t need to shoot enemies. Instead, you’ll need to navigate a narrow corridor, avoiding a few sentry guns along the way. Crash into the walls or get hit by a gun and you’ll lose a big chunk of health. We appreciate that these levels intend to offer a bit of variety, but they’re pretty boring, and you’ll likely find yourself cursing their existence every time one comes up.
As you play through Shootvaders, you’ll gain three different types of currency: stars, coins and alien material. Each one can be spent on various upgrades to your ship, but gaining them feels like a slog. Starting the game gives you enough currency to buy your first loadout of weapons and a basic set of upgrades. But you’ll need to play another half dozen runs before you can afford to buy anything else. While the upgrades are self-explanatory and rather useful – i.e. upgraded shoot speed, star multiplier and longer-lasting shields – there’s no real way of knowing what the different types of guns do. All you can do is assume that the more expensive guns are better, but until they’re bought and equipped, you won’t know what they do.
The only real “additional” feature you’ll find in Shootvaders is the option to play in local co-op. If you have a second controller, a friend or family member can jump in to shoot alongside you. As you can imagine, though, things get even more chaotic with another ship on screen – and those narrow alley sections become even more tedious as you both need to thread the same path while also avoiding each other. Granted, having couch co-op is always a welcome addition, but this is a rare game we’d say is better played alone.
There’s nothing remarkable about Shootvaders: The Beginning. Its presentation is rather bland and its deafening, uninspired sound effects will leave you reaching for the mute button. But with such a budget price tag, it’s certainly not a bad shoot ’em up game. As simple as it may be, it’s the sort of thing you can keep jumping back into to challenge your own high score. And the odd new ship upgrade as you play is certainly welcome, too.