Take the gameplay of Super NES hit Starfox and the look and sound of 1980s sci-fi movie Tron and you get GRIDD: Retroenhanced, a trippy arcade shooter for Xbox One from Italian developer Antab and Kongregate.
GRIDD has some fantastic old-school gameplay, but it might be a little too light on modes and extras.
GRIDD: Retroenhanced is a sequel to a Windows Phone shooter called GRIDD. The new game doesn't feature much of a story, but the concept is simple and fitting with the rest of the package. You play as hacking program sent to penetrate a mysterious mainframe and learn all of its evil secrets. Throughout the game, you'll be taunted by a polygonal face right out of Tron and Starfox.
This installment of GRIDD is a 3D rail-shooter in the style of the original Starfox. Your hacking program (ship) flies forward constantly along a neon-colored path, dodging obstacles and firing on abstract-looking enemies. The only inputs are the analog stick and fire button, so don't expect any fancy moves or superweapons here. You can power up your shots with items, but different weapons or a bomb would've been nice.
The camera follows the path, not your ship, which can make it tricky to dodge physical objects, rotating lasers, and enemy fire. But the path is always the same in Arcade mode, so practice hopefully makes perfect. And besides, frantically rotating around the field as you try not to get blasted by lasers is just how boss fights went down in the original Starfox.
Speaking of bosses, GRIDD features a handful of impressive boss fights during Arcade mode's 25-minute duration. My favorite is a gigantic snake-like beast that feels like a Panzer Dragoon monster. To kill it, you'll have to shoot out the weak spots on its neck. This makes the tail section become vulnerable, at which point you can blast pieces off. Fire at the tail before then and your shots will reflect back, potentially killing you.
At a couple of points throughout Arcade mode, players have a chance to hack a firewall backdoor. After shooting open the door lock, the backdoor minigame begins. This involves trying to discover three secret numbers by firing at a target while a moving cursor highlights each target.
After destroying the target, you'll have to quickly collect the data it releases. Get all of the data pickups from each number without running out of tries and you'll win an extra life. By default, you only get one life in Arcade mode. So mastering the hacking game (which isn't particularly hard) and winning those two extra lives is a big help.
Beating Arcade mode unlocks Endless mode, the real meat of the game. Unlike Arcade, this mode is randomized and different every time you play. The game throws the whole kitchen sink at you, with loads of enemies and obstacles amping up the challenge.
The score you earn in Endless counts as accumulated data. This data carries over between playthroughs, so you don't have to start at square one after dying. So even though Endless throws more challenging enemies at our heroic hacker, it's actually less stressful than Arcade mode.
The Xbox One version of GRIDD: Retroenhanced features 25 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. These are divided evenly between Arcade and Endless modes.
The tougher Arcade Achievements involve beating the game without hacking the backdoors, accomplishing a 32x score multiplier, and maxing out your shield via pickups. In Endless mode, you'll have to collect a cumulative gigabyte worth of data to survive for 10 minutes.
It's great to see a classic Windows Phone series like GRIDD making its way to consoles. The Xbox One pastures are far greener nowadays than Microsoft's ailing mobile OS, so hopefully more talented developers make the jump to ID@Xbox as well.
Antab's GRIDD: Retroenhanced is a solid rail shooter with slick retro-esque visuals and a catchy synthwave soundtrack from Dream Fiend. Rail shooters are slightly limited compared to traditional shmups and twin-stick shooters, but they certainly provide a feel all their own. GRIDD could benefit from a bit more content and polish. Still, it should easily appeal to fans of rail shooters like Starfox and Panzer Dragoon.
GRIDD: Retorenhanced costs $11.99 on Xbox One and Steam.
- A classic Windows Phone series survives on Xbox One!
- Great Tron-like visuals and sound.
- Memorable boss fights against huge polygonal enemies.
- Needs more content for long-term replay value.
- No friends leaderboards, so you can't compare your scores with people you know.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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