Games like: S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team, CyBattler
Time played: 15 minutes
What could possibly go wrong when you get a platter of fast paced, shmup action with a sinister background of metal music all wrapped in a tight package of face melting? Nothing but awesome. What can simply be written off as an advertisement for the metal band Last Chance to Reason’s album “Level 2”, Virus Master creates a soundscape (literally) that flows perfectly into the gameplay of a shoot-em-up to make something that I’ve never seen before. Fly through space taking down huge enemies all in an effort to stop the Virus Master once and for all.
Virus Master is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up where, rather than a ship blasting beams of energy at your enemies, you are an mechanized alien floating through space in a sweet rocket propelled suit unleashing madness on your foes. You have your choice of either using the mouse and keyboard (boo!) or your gameplay right out of the box. Provided you have your controller on prior to starting the game (mine being the Xbox 360), you’ll move your character around with the left control stick and the right stick is for shooting and the direction of that shot. It comes off as a twin stick shooter control scheme that rolls perfectly with the rounded style of the Xbox 360’s analog sticks. Everything just sort of moves smoothly.
Upon exiting the main menu, you find yourself floating through space with four locks on screen, one in each corner. Destroying the locks, the screen dissipates and a disembodied head fades into the foreground. Then it begins, the metal hits you hard in the ears as the disembodied head sings the lyrics of your demise. The absolute beauty of the music tying so closely to the gameplay is extremely impressive. The singer is synced perfectly with the head and the explosions and entrances of the big enemies are placed right when the action gets heavy. Even though playing through the may seem as a simple demo, the end result has momentous achievements in what could possibly be a level up from other “music”-style games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
Virus Master is divided up into four stages (plus one super secret stage). Everything you kill adds to your percentage of the stage at the top of the screen. Taking a hit just reduces the percentage on screen rather than losing a life. Each stage can be completed to 100% provided that hit everything on screen and who wouldn’t? At the end of the stage you’ll receive a grade where “S” would be the highest. If you can receive an rating of “S” on stages one and two, and at least an “A” on the last two, you’ll unlock the final battle to take down the Virus Master. If not, then you’ll be thanked for service but that the Virus Master is still on the loose.
Music typically takes a back stage in most video games even some, that I’ve read, is designed just to keep you focused on the action. Virus Master makes the music take the forefront which if you play the game on silent, which I have, has a completely different tone and atmosphere. Last Chance to Reason is heavy metal for sure, but uses interesting effects to give it a space-like room that fits perfectly with the genre you play in.
Virus Master has a very 16-bit Genesis graphical style to it that you would find in other popular shmups from that era. Every sprite is crisp, clean, and has great definition. The boss sprites are definitely another note worth mentioning. Big, giant sprites full of clarity will bring a tear to your eye especially those well versed in the indie gaming community. Too many times you see simple, boring sprites that may or may not be due to the creative/artistry of the developer themselves. But every once in a while, when looking at good art, it’s just that… good. Time is what makes good pixel art, great pixel art. Time and a willingness to make it something beautiful. That’s what Lazy Brain Games have done: created beautiful pixel art.
The biggest disappointment? Virus Master is painfully short. I mean, extremely short. You’ll only go through two songs off the album. The game can beat in about five minutes. And it is a huge rush of metal and shmup action packed in just five minutes. Lazy Brain Games claims that this is just a demo and more is to come and we can only hope. I feel that if this game takes off or at least sees some sort popularity, this could create a new sub-genre that will have developers pinning through music tracks trying to find the perfect selection for their games. How great would that be? Because I would have probably never heard of Last Chance to Reason if not for this game and I’m glad it was so tightly mixed into this fun and jaw dropping game.
Virus Master is a quick, free to download side scrolling shmup that is synced to metal music by the band Last Chance to Reason. So closely paired is the music that every beat, enemy engagement, and boss battle hits to the changes in the music. So well done, yet extremely short bringing your gameplay to only about five minutes to beat, Virus Master is an impressive display of what can be achieved if you take a music track and build a game rather than the other way around. Plus metal is awesome so there’s that.
Check out more pics from Virus Master.
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