Every Extend Extra (PSP) review
"The name of this game is Every Extend Extra, because it's got extra content! Q Entertainment was so enamoured with the PC freeware original that they decided to turn it into a full-fledged commercial release. The simple single-level game mushroomed into a challenging chain of nine diverse stages. Each level features a unique theme with customized enemies and music."
At first glance, Every Extend appears to be a trendy update of Asteroids. Players control a polygonal ship, flitting around a single stationary screen, avoiding or eliminating strings of encroaching cuboid enemies. As time passes, mini-bosses occasionally appear, kind of like the UFO's sporadic arrival in Asteroids.
There's one small difference: in Every Extend, you can't shoot.
In this game, the counter-intuitive key to victory is suicide! When cubes crowd the playfield, players take the initiative and kill themselves before anything else gets a chance to gun them down. However, this isn't a game built around self-loathing and personal angst. The ultimate goal is to kill everything else. When someone presses the red button -- with or without melodramatic exclamations of "BURN IN HELL, DEMONIC FIENDS" -- anything caught within the player's blast radius catches fire and explodes. Anything trapped in one of the victims' blast radii explodes... and anything nearby explodes... leading to strings of attractive (but deadly) fireworks that can stretch from one end of the screen to the other.
That's assuming players are patient and clever enough to wait and time their detonations properly. Impatient self-destruction just leads to lost lives. Ramming enemies or getting shot also depletes the player stock. Once that hits zero, it's Game Over.
Fortunately, Every Extend doles out lots of extra lives (referred to as "extends" in the shooting game community). The first arrives after only 1000 points, the second after a scant 2500, the third after 5000, and so on. That's a far cry more generous than stingy games like Dragon Blaze, which only gives out a single extend when you hit 600 thousand points. So, as long as careful gamers take out lots of enemies with each blast -- and pick up the floating bonus point icons -- a single session can actually last several minutes, leading to huge scores that are sure to impress the ladies.
That's Every Extend. Yes, it's included on the UMD. But the name of this game is Every Extend Extra, because it's got extra content! Q Entertainment was so enamoured with the PC freeware original that they decided to turn it into a full-fledged commercial release. The simple single-level game mushroomed into a challenging chain of nine diverse stages. Each level features a unique theme with customized enemies and music; one feels like a disco parlor, another like a Treasure-inspired trip to the prehistoric Cambrian era.
It's this enhanced arcade mode that makes the game more than an amusing novelty (which is a good thing, since this version actually costs money). Surviving a single level isn't too difficult, but making it through all nine stages in succession won't be easy, not even with the five continues that Q provides to suicidal gamers. A few new tricks have been dropped into the arcade mode's arsenal (such as the ability to charge detonations to create bigger blasts), but success still depends on timing, precision, and persistence.
To add more stimulation to each stage, elaborate bosses have been created especially for the PSP release. For example, to cap off the pink-tinged "Sakura" stage, players have to defeat several bullet-spewing flowers. These plants can't be toppled just by flying next to them and exploding; players have to detonate a chain of five or more smaller enemies (which continue to appear from all sides of the screen) to gather the explosive power required for victory. Each boss is defeated in a different way, and the game is nice enough to explain the key to victory during each battle. The challenge is in the doing, not in the solving.
That's enough surface description! I imagine you probably want to know if the game is actually any good.
Yes. Yes, it is.
Every Extend Extra is good because it engages the mind in unusual ways. For example, a typical shooter encourages players to kill things immediately -- "the best defense is a good offense". Sure, some of the score-centric Cave games dangle a "bonus points" carrot in front of players as a reward for patient and efficient play, but the hare is still just as likely to survive as the tortoise. In Every Extend Extra, players are forced to exercise patience and wait for the perfect detonation moment... otherwise, they'll burn through all their lives and lose in a matter of seconds.
Every Extend Extra is good because it features dynamic gameplay, spurred on by special items called "quickens". As players pick up quickens (or die and lose them), the game speeds up or slows down. This forces players to adapt to the surroundings and change their destructive tactics accordingly, instead of just memorizing where enemies will appear. As the action speeds up, more enemies appear at a time, which makes the game tougher... but also allows for a MUCH higher score.
Every Extend Extra is good because the soundtrack's rhythmic beat matches the movement of the player craft, adding a subtle level of interaction between the player and the music. We're all used to seeing a reaction to our mechanical inputs, but we're not used to hearing a reaction. Well, not unless the only game you've ever played is Rez, which was designed by the same people. Point is, it's an interesting concept that appeals to one of the less popular Seven Types of Intelligence.
In short, Every Extend Extra is good because it provides a combination of elements that exercises and engages many layers of the mind. Oh yeah, and it's fun, too. A hell of a lot more fun than any Asteroids clone!
Staff review by Zigfried (November 17, 2006)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
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