In the Live Arcade range of games there are a few twin-stick shooters, the latest of which is an offering from the comically-named Brain Slap Studio and published by gaming heavyweight Namco-Bandai. The premise is simple enough, the Hexodius realm has been taken over by rogue AI and you need to escape using your roving robot guardian, B.O.B. This would seem simple enough so let’s see how simple it is.

The Hexodius realm has been taken over by rogue AI and you need to escape using your roving robot guardian

The Hexodius realm has been taken over by rogue AI and you need to escape using your roving robot guardian

The game itself has two main modes, Arcade and Story. The latter mode sees you embarking on your mission to escape Hexodious. After a short CG intro, which isn’t overly comical despite the effort, you’re introduced to the hexagonal map with various tiles that hold missions to complete in order to progress. This allows you to roam and pick which highlighted mission type you would like to play. Scattered throughout these are also checkpoints and a shop where you can buy upgrades. This all looks fine and the animation of your little robotic craft is smooth throughout this section. The missions initially are varied, with survival, protect and timed generator destruction missions. Scattered amongst these are mini-missions which involve the small floating creator droid that is trying to escape.

If truth be told, that’s about it. The graphics are smooth and well-drawn, the sounds are your usual shooter fare of shot-noise, explosions, a little bit of movement hum and some background music. The game plays well, your craft runs as smooth as a robot’s bottom and the enemies are of varying speeds and intelligence and do provide a challenge. They come in various sizes and difficulties, and there is a definite gradual upward slope as the game progresses. This is a good thing too, as you’ll get the opportunity to upgrade your ship via the 4 weapon upgrade slots and 3 equipment slots.

So, a quick trip to the shop on the hex-map and you’ll get the chance to spend come of the credits you are initially given, but ultimately have to earn. There are a healthy selection of power-ups and upgrades available, but there seems to be something missing. It doesn’t feel enough. It’s almost like the developers have taken the usual, working power-ups and tried to find something different, a bargain bucket of power-ups and weapon upgrades seems to be on offer. My idea of a power-up or weapon upgrade would be something to aid you in the goal of the arena that you’re trying to beat and there are none of these that would help you in the generator levels save, maybe the shot size increase slot.

You’ll get the opportunity to upgrade your ship via the 4 weapon upgrade slots and 3 equipment slots

You’ll get the opportunity to upgrade your ship via the 4 weapon upgrade slots and 3 equipment slots

These power-ups are accessed via a sub-menu before any level starts. Here you can assign upgrades to one of up to four slots, all controlled by one of the shoulder buttons or triggers. These upgrades are activated in each level by collecting the energy pods dropped by destroyed enemies and are activated in the order shown at the bottom of the power-up selection screen. This forces you to think about where you place these aids as quite frankly, you wouldn’t want the useless shield to be first out of the bag when you’re up against some of the largest droids. Now, this would be fine, if some of these weapons didn’t overheat or take time to recover. It’s a very limited advantage compared to some other games of the same nature.

Also scattered throughout the map are checkpoints. These allow you to save your progress and also act as repair bays for your craft. Repairing your craft does cost though, so make sure you can afford it before deciding it’s a good idea. Now, as good an idea as checkpoints are, they are even better if they are multi-use. These are single use only, which would mean that any progress you make between this and the next checkpoint will have to be played again, a prospect that doesn’t fill me with glee.

Arcade mode gives you more arenas to play, with the aim for you to survive the attacks until the time runs out

Arcade mode gives you more arenas to play, with the aim for you to survive the attacks until the time runs out

The Story mode, then, while being a collection of arena missions loosely held together by the premise of trying to escape, is in reality a repetitive merry-go-round of the same mission types, with slight variations on some of the themes, destroy a generator for example and it may go dark in that area meaning its harder to see the multitudes of enemy coming at you from four designated areas in the arena. These areas are indicated by a huge red arrow when droids are about to teleport in, so much so that sometimes it’s easier to spot the arrow, sit, wait and then blast them as they appear. It’s all just a little disappointing.

The other mode you have is Arcade. This gives you more arenas to play, with the aim for you to survive the attacks until the time runs out. It is more of the same without the story.

I was hoping for more from what is essentially a heavily influenced Smash TV, but in truth, it’s a selection of repetitive mission types with a missed opportunity of a weapon power-up system. There’s not much to keep you entertained. I was hoping for a non-linear wander through a full pseudo-3D environment, solving puzzles and shooting droids but as it is, it’s more of a drudge through various arena based shooting scenarios, the majority of which could have offered much, much more. There are a few things that work well in the game, your craft moves really well, and is certainly responsive, the enemy droids are clear and their AI works fairly well, but it is let down badly in execution. Hexodius is definitely a missed opportunity in a marketplace with better fare of the same genre.

Review: Hexodius
The good
  • Smoothly animated sprites
  • Enemy droid AI is fairly intelligent
  • Easy to pick up and play
The bad
  • Weapon upgrade system is clunky
  • Round we go again, mission types are too repetitive
  • Checkpoint system is flawed
47%Overall Score
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Indie Editor

A midlander, exiled to the South Coast. I once finished Gremlin's "Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge" & I have the certificate to prove it.