[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in The Getaway Bundle, now available at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]

I was admittedly a bit apprehensive about loading up another twin stick shooter as I watched Squid in a Box's Waves slowly download. Any regular reader of these Indie Royale profiles knows that this genre isn't necessarily my cup of tea, and it can be difficult to get excited about what sounds like a typical arena shooter. Much to my surprise, Waves managed to seriously impress me. It features all the usual pros of a twin stick shooter like terrific graphics and a seriously fantastic soundtrack, but the most important aspect of Waves is the terrific game design that manages to work some innovation into a crowded genre.

In every mode you play as a neon ball that rolls around and shoots everything in the way. You've got a screen clearing bomb move, and a neat little bullet time trick, but largely it's the same tightly controlled shooting gameplay you're familiar with. However, each of the varied six modes seemed designed to be anything but the usual sort of gameplay. The most traditional mode is probably the survival one, but it's also the least intriguing compared to some of the more bizarre inclusions. For example, Challenge mode orders you to hit certain par times and multiplier milestones, forcing some strategic balance between scoring big combos and clearing the screen. Bombing Run mode disables your weapon and forces you to carry bombs to safe zones, detonating them as your sole means of attack. The most exhilarating is Chase mode, in which you need to touch a red zone every five seconds to avoid an explosive death. Each one is a nice spin on the rote goals of many shoot em ups, and that alone makes Waves something unique.



The other nice aspect to Waves is the very short rounds that work in tandem with the commitment to high scores over survival. The bread and butter Crunch Time mode lasts exactly three minutes, and most other modes tend to pass by pretty quickly for all but the most skilled of players. It's a smart choice, because spending an hour tackling 100 waves of a survival mode just can't compare to three tightly paced minutes of sheer fun. Scoring is a big deal, with Steam leaderboards displayed in-game so you can see just how close you are to defeating your digital pals. Even the exponential scoring curve is brilliantly rewarding, as you go from earning tens of points to hundreds of thousands thanks to the experience point system of gathering drops in exchange for multipliers.

Even for a shump grump like myself, Waves is quite an impressive game. It's a terrific and seriously well designed example of the genre, and perfect for fifteen minute arcade breaks. Be sure to give it a try, because I have no doubt ten minutes of Chase mode could sway any skeptic.

[Waves, MiniFlake, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, Da New Guys, Shattered Horizon, and one other game are available in The Getaway Bundle at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]