There are two main game modes in FireFly Vegas, Time Attack and Survival modes. Time Attack is your standard gameplay of battling to get the highest score within a set time limit and Survival is the same frantic gameplay with the time limit removed. Further to this, a harder “expert” control scheme is available which involves the addition of a thrust button to move your ship around the screen instead of the traditional movement of the left analogue stick.
Speaking of the controls, they are extremely fast and responsive, the left analogue stick moves your ship and the right analogue stick controls the direction you are firing in, the right trigger activates your smart bomb and right bumper activates a unique jump control. Your spaceship likewise feels fast and responsive with the controls, which is exactly what you want when the pace mounts up in FireFly Vegas, it gets very fast and very frantic.
Scoring is achieved through obliterating your enemies, however a clever mechanic is employed, when the enemy gets destroyed it drops a small pellet that increases your score, obviously weaker enemies have lower scoring pellets and harder enemies reward you more, the clever part, is that the pellets will only be collected by your ship, when you stop firing, this creates a thrilling risk and reward element when the enemies start coming at you thick and fast, do you go after the points or do you shoot like a maniac for survival.
The play grid is more rectangular in comparison to what had been seen in Geometry Wars, whilst this does not hinder the gameplay in anyway, it can be a little disorientating at first for people who are more used to playing Geometry Wars. Also, in comparison, the borders do not become fully visible until you are very close to the, like a fog of war, this is a great addition in my opinion; it creates a great sense of tension, when you are being chased around the screen.
A wealth of unique enemies can be found in FireFly Vegas, starting from your simple cannon fodder of objects, to huge space jelly fish characters that will take a lot of fire power to bring down, there is also psychopathic homing enemies that will chase you straight in the a black hole type of enemy, frantic stuff indeed. It is hard to quantify what these enemies resemble, they are less defined that the neon shapes found in Geometry Wars, but also similarly interesting and I am always in hope of encountering new enemies the longer the game goes on.
The graphic style has an interesting retro feel to it, a nice calculator type font in used for the scoreboard and the black starry sky used for the background reminds me of classic titles like Asteroids and Defender. When you destroy an enemy ship, instead of simply disintegrating they explode into a satisfying shower of pieces, whilst this is more exciting, I found it a little difficult to see my own ship through all the debris on the screen, when things got a little bit more chaotic as the round progressed.
Power-ups are another great addition in FireFly Vegas, there are two types, weapons and defensive power-ups. The weapon power-ups include, a spread shot, bouncing shot, a powerful blaster shot and more fun arsenal like the rebound shot, the defensive power-ups, generally range from different types of shield to extra smart bombs, vital additions when the screen gets full of enemies.
The music in FireFly Vegas is outstanding, as stated on the RockMint website, the tracks come from Phatso Records and they really add to the retro feel of this title, they remind me a lot of the cracktro and demoscene music that could be found on those not so legal copies of C64 and Amiga games.
FireFly Vegas Gameplay Trailer
There is however a few little points that could do tweaking in my opinion, first of all when the action is ramping up and explosions are going off everywhere, it can get a little disorientating and on more than one occasion I totally lost where my ship was in the playfield and flew it into an enemy object. Secondly, when you lose a life, all your power ups are lost and it is very difficult to get back into the game from there, especially when there are hoards of enemies coming for you. And on a more personal level, I would have liked to see the camera view, zoomed out a little, so you can see a bit more of the playfield.
In conclusion, RockMint studios have done an excellent job on FireFly Vegas. It is an excellent twin stick shooter than has taken all the fast and frantic gameplay from Geometry Wars, thrown it in a blender with a huge dollop of Retro Gaming goodness and produced one of the best shooter games that has blessed the Xbox Indie Marketplace. The addiction to just have one more go and beat the high scores is incredible, with two excellent gameplay modes and plenty of challenges, this is a title for anybody who wishes to revisit some good old retro shooter action.
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