Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program for the Xbox One is finally starting to pick up steam, what with the recent influx of indie titles available now on Xbox Live. One of those games is Happion Labs‘ Sixty Second Shooter Prime, an intense twin-stick arcade shoot-em-up roguelike where the premise is simple — survive for 60 seconds and get as high a score as possible with only one life.
Originally developed in 2011 for the Google Chrome Web Store, the game eventually made its way to the PS Vita as Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe. Releasing earlier this month for the Xbox One as Sixty Second Shooter Prime, this definitive edition adds a roguelike perma-death feature, a handful of collectibles, and a brand new Infinity mode to put your skills to the test.
Its classic arcade visuals pair nicely with its simple electronic soundtrack, although neither overshadow the game’s frantic pace and ridiculous fun factor. With its single-life 60 second time limit, action is always fed in short burst with a high risk/high reward scoring system that allows you to delve deeper and deeper in to the levels where increasingly difficult and ruthless enemies await. Do you stick around in the easier zones and play it safe, or find the teleporter to the next floor that offers tougher, yet higher scoring enemies? I love the pressure I felt knowing that I only had 60 seconds to make my decision, although rarely did I ever last that long.
Sixty Second Shooter Prime offers a nice variety of enemies, level skins, and power-ups, just not immediately. Scattered throughout the game are energy pods that carry over each time you play, where collecting X amount of energy will open up new things, like the ability to start the game on a deeper floor, power-ups that can slow time, a new game mode, or tossing in new enemy types that make surviving a bit harder.
Although there are a lot of things to open up, I managed to unlock everything in under an hour. At that point it became all about trying to best my high scores, or unlocking new achievements. There is no campaign to play through, no storyline, and no multi-player modes, but if you’re a fan of leaderboards and the old Atari mentality of “Play. Die. Play again.“, Sixty Second Shooter Prime is as addictive as they come. Every death was going to be my last attempt. You know, until the next death. Then the next one, essentially turning in to “just one more try!” until three hours passed by.
To me, an arcade shooter is only as good as its core mechanic, but Sixty Second Shooter Prime doesn’t just focus on one thing. You have a very short time limit to accomplish a pair of goals — survive and increase your score — while under the constant stress of attack and the looming threat of the dreaded perma-death, ready to take away everything you’ve just worked for in a moments notice. Doing so in such short bursts makes perma-death sting a lot less than it would in a roguelike RPG that you’ve invested a few hours in to, but since every attempt is procedurally generated, some times the RNG gods just aren’t in your favor. Nothing stings more than gaining in on that 1,000,000 score mark and then suddenly finding yourself on the receiving end of an enemy pain train, or not finding the power-ups you need to survive just a little bit longer. It’s these things that made every single attempt different from the last, and what kept me pressing on after countless deaths. I always wanted to do better on the next go, even after the 50th slice of humble pie.
Sixty Second Shooter Prime‘s primary mode of play features the titular 60 second time limit, but does offer a 2nd game mode called Infinity. This mode still features the same time limit, but offers power-ups that add time to the clock so you can survive as long as possible. High scores are saved separately, and although I enjoyed being forced to scour the area for more time, I still ended up preferring the standard game mode for its added stress of a concrete time limit. The game is best when played under pressure and I felt that Infinity mode lacked the appeal of going deeper as fast as possible, but it was definitely a nice break when I just wanted to see how long I could survive instead of how high I could push my score.
If you’re a fan of twin-stick arcade shooters, Sixty Second Shooter Prime is a must-buy for the Xbox One, especially if you’re in to the roguelike approach of randomly generated level designs and the constant threat of perma-death. It’s a great game to pick up and play when you have time to kill, although if you’re looking for something to play in longer strides, you may be disappointed by the overall lack of content found within; again noting that I personally unlocked everything it had to offer in less than an hour. If constantly striving to beat a high score isn’t something you’re interested in, your mileage will vary, but as a fan of both fast-paced shoot-em-ups and the roguelike genre, I definitely consider Sixty Second Shooter Prime a must-play indie title on the Xbox One. It’s even easier to recommend with its accessibly reasonable $5.00 price tag.
Recommended for fans of: fast paced twin-stick shooters, roguelikes, shoot-em-ups, leaderboards, Beat Hazard.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling news, reviews and a bit of our public relations communications. He’s an aspiring writer and Baltimore native that can usually be found watching terrible B-movies or knee-deep in a roguelike, a horror game or some sort of point-and-click adventure. His favorite console is the Dreamcast, favorite game is the original Metroid, and he could watch The Goonies for the rest of his life. Contact him by e-mail at the address above, or follow his insanity on Twitter.