“Mouse No. Probably A Rat” is the latest game by David Scatliffe, a Game Maker user beginning to enter the spotlight for his addictive, retro-styled arcade games. Created in under three hours for a competition on popular site The Poppenkast, it is a game inspired by “Squid Yes! Not So Octopus!” – and it shows. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it will usually mean this game is compared unfavourably in reviews. Because of this, for the duration of my review of the game I’m going to pretend I’ve never played, or even heard of, SY!NSO!.
So, with that out of the way, MNPAR is a pixelated arcade game in which you blast your way through a never-ending wave of enemies. As you progress, the number of enemies on-screen increases, as does their ability to shoot. Your ship can only take one collision before it explodes so very quickly the game becomes hectic. It also becomes harder to destroy these enemies – you can only shoot in the direction you’re facing so, to hit the ones coming at you from the side, you’ll need to keep moving.
To be honest, it was a good decision to make games quick, because in terms of gameplay MNPAR is a little limited. The fact you’re likely to be dead within a minute means you’re cut off before repetition comes and grabs you by the throat. For a game made in under three hours, though, the gameplay is as good as it needs to be – quick, fun, and thanks to the addition of online highscores, pretty addictive.
As with Scatliffe’s former work, MNPAR’s graphics are fairly retro in style. Certain aspects go against this, including a strong glow around your bullets, but amazingly they never feel out of place. The effects are laid on thick but not distractingly thick, and give the game a very pleasing aesthetic. The interface is simple but doesn’t really need to be any more complicated – unlike with Death Worm, the simple one-colour-font score indicator works in this. The only problem, a common one with Game Maker games and a small one, is that use of the hash hasn’t been disabled in usernames, so you can run your name onto several lines, though this is unlikely to affect the online highscore display.
The sounds were functional, if pretty obviously made with SFXR (a program a huge number of developers have started using since Cactus’ game design speech at this year’s IGS). What got my aural attention, though, was the music – a fitting, catchy track that had me play the game twice just for listening pleasure.
So, on the whole, even removing the creation time from the equation this is an above-par arcade shooter. Its slight gameplay limitations are disguised by good-looking graphics, instant replayability, online highscore-aided addictiveness and a great backing track. Consider the game recommended – you can play it online or download it at Game Jolt.
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