Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Late Morning Snack: The Competitor

That black line marks the path my circles will take. Have you ever played Galaga or Space Invaders and wondered what it would be like to play as the oncoming swarms instead of the lone fighter?  Joey Betz clearly has.  His new game The Competitor (hosted by Armor Games) ingeniously inverts the classic shoot-em-up structure, putting you in control of the invaders.

Your mission in each level is to eliminate the lone fighter at the bottom of the screen, reducing his health bar to zero.  He, in turn, will be pelting the top of your screen with bullets, trying to kill you.  You can stop him by drawing lines of ink on the empty playfield, which become paths for your invading troops.  Your units are specialized for offense and defense, and the more powerful ones require more of your slowly-refilling well of ink. 

It’s simple-yet-slick graphics (each unit is a different simple shape: squares, triangles, etc.) highlight this ink-based play mechanic.  I really enjoy the sandbox-style of gameplay.  Each time I play, I find myself trying new tactics: hurling offensive units at the bottom of the screen or constructing defensive walls before bringing in the big guns.  For this reason, replayability is pretty high, though I’ve gotten stuck on Level 6 every time.

I’ll close this one with a Pro Tip.  Definitely use a real mouse for this one.  Rapid unit-switching on the number keys is a must in the later levels, and rapid deployment on a laptop’s touchpad is only feasible with two hands.  That said, I still had fun unwinding with this one on the lappy before bed.