Developer: Antab Studios
Category: Action, Arcade, Racing
Composer: Dream Fiend
Release Date: 06.07.2018
Take your place on the starting grid
GRIDD: Retroenhanced is a stylish shooter set to a synth track that keeps on giving.
Essentially you have to navigate an on the rails experience. This involves avoiding lasers, shooting peculiar yellow panels and occasionally taking down enemies, all at a blistering pace. Swift reactions are essential, almost as much as having a keen eye and an overly eager trigger finger.
The story seems simple in execution, you take the role of a virus trying to enter a computer system. There was one sequence that I particularly enjoyed where you had to bypass a firewall by collecting numbers until you got the three that you needed to lock it down.
Get your engines ready
The difficulty level in this title is adaptive, meaning that if you’re struggling to get past a certain area the AI will ease off a little bit. At the same time, if you breeze through the opening few sections, the difficulty may spike quite significantly to offer more of a challenge.
The game is somewhat similar to the quite excellent Thumper, except with the addition of weapons. Visually the game has a futuristic, neon hue that looks absolutely fantastic both when docked and in handheld mode. The soundtrack to this title, which has been created by Australian Dream Fiend, is delivered at breakneck speed, pumping fast and hard beats into your ear drums throughout. Together with the art style this really drives home the underlying theme of the game.
By detaching the left Joy Con from the Switch you can activate power glove mode. This essentially offers a unique form of motion controls. By holding your arm above your head, you control movement by tilting the Joy Con on its axis. Consequently, the easiest way to shoot is to use your thumb to fire the trigger.
On the negative side, it does take a bit of getting used to. It’s not the most organic use of motion controls and your arm can genuinely feel fatigued from using it. However after a little perseverance, things did start to click and it became a more enjoyable experience.
It’s always nice to see a developer go the extra mile and accommodate a systems unique points.
Try not to stall
Unfortunately for GRIDD, the game falls a little flat for a number of reasons. Firstly, the adaptive difficulty level means that you can complete the game after a few failed attempts without actually getting better.
Unlike games that challenge you to learn from your mistakes, GRIDD simply dumbs the experience down. I can imagine that the same theory applies in reverse, but I wouldn’t know anything about that. If you are a regular reader of my work you will know just how bad I am at games of the shooty variety.
Aside from that, the other real issue that I had with GRIDD was that the controls seemed a little clunky. Sometimes avoiding lasers simply wasn’t possible as I couldn’t shift over to the other side of the screen quickly enough.
Despite all these little niggles, it doesn’t diminish the overall enjoyment of the game too much.
Do a barrel roll?
Despite its short comings, GRIDD is still an extremely enjoyable video game with good production values and a stellar soundtrack. Imagine Star Fox blended with Thumper, on acid and you get a good idea of what this game is about . Whilst I enjoyed the obvious homage to Star Fox that the game plays, it did seem a little overkill at times. From piloting a craft very similar in design to an Arwing to collecting power ups that boost the power and quantity of laser beams as well as shield upgrades, the comparisons are obvious. For me however, it was perhaps a little too much when fighting a floating head that fired beams from its eyes. The resemblance to Andross just seemed a little too similar.
Go for gold
Upon completion of the main game, an endless mode is unlocked which offers a great deal of replay value. Endless mode is procedural generated meaning that you will never get the same levels twice. All the assets are random so the placing of obstacles and enemies can’t be learned. This, for me, was an extremely enjoyable way to play as it really turned the challenge all the way up to 11. Throughout the main game you quickly learn patterns and can predict scenarios whereas in endless mode, that is simply not an option. As the name suggests, you play endless mode until you meet your demise, with the aim being accumulating as high a score as possible.
Uniquely, Gridd: Retroenhanced doesn’t use a traditional scoring method, instead, at the end of each play through, in fitting with the hacking theme, you are told how much data you have managed to download.
A podium finish
All in all, Gridd: Retroenhanced is probably the best game of its type on the Nintendo Switch. It offers an enjoyable arcade style experience that at times will, along with the fantastic music, leave you with an elevated heart rate.
In conclusion, if you are a fan of either Thumper or the Star Fox franchise, there is probably something for you to enjoy here. By the same token, it offers just enough of it’s own personality to differnciate itself from the previously mentioned games.
Above all else, Gridd: Retroenhanced is an excellent title in its own right and a welcome addition to the eshop library.
Intense, neon cyberpunk hacking shooter with a banging soundtrack. Do I really need to say anything else?
Buy GRIDD: Retroenhaced for $11.99
Or for £9.59
Follow Antab Studios
Check out Dream Fiend