May 18, 2012 2:00 AM | John Polson
Velocity is a vertical (top-down) shmup Mini that surprisingly doesn't rely on bullet patterns or a lot of other genre staples to provide intense moments worthy of its $4.99 price tag (or free for PlayStation Plus users this month). Instead, players must use a limited amount of lives and telepods to make it to the end of 50 twitch-challenging, strategizing levels.
There's plenty to shoot, even if there aren't many enemy variations. While the normal stage walls don't damage your ship (gasp!), the vertical scrolling will. To avoid death, players must use teleports and telepods. While you can infinitely teleport, as long as you move your cursor to an open area, you often have limited telepods you can drop. These are extremely useful when the stage forks and you need to return to explore another area.
You will often find survivors on every path. Color-coded security locks are equally scattered and must be shot sequentially and sometimes bombed from one of four directions to deactivate their deadly fields. Fortunately, each stage has a large map that shows any encountered security locks and telepod locations. You can also see any isolated areas that may contain a hidden collectible.
I'm not one for replaying for gold, but Velocity almost requires it, since rescuing all the survivors, destroying almost all the enemies (thereby getting a high score), and beating the stage quickly leads not only to top medals but to XP. The latter of which unlocks levels. Velocity refreshingly, doubly encourages you to shoot all enemies in a wave: you earn bonus points for rank/XP and an in-game capsule that extends the duration of your power-up.
Futurlab's James Marsden gave a great interview with us previously, for those curious about these clever design choices. Velocity's tunes from Joris de Man (Killzone, N+) are well worth sampling, too.
I feel Velocity only lacks in one area: visuals. Practically every stage looks similar (layout aside), but it doesn't keep the core game from being addictive. Maybe it's a PS Mini size issue, and if so, Sony should learn that our 2012 bandwidths can handle it, and so should their servers.
I was skeptical about playing a game that aimed to shake up my beloved shmup genre, but I think Velocity largely succeeded in its goals. Velocity is available now in the PlayStation Store's EU and NA territories.
Joined with Floating Cloud God, this makes two amazing Minis in one month!