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Radiant Review: The 80’s Strike Back on Ouya
Old-school arcade fans are in for a treat with Radiant, a new Ouya game from developer Hexage. The Supercreep, leader of the band of pixelated space warriors that attacked Earth in 1981 on Galaga arcade machines, is back and thirsty for revenge. It’s up to players to man an ’80s style spaceship armed with modern weaponry and blast the Supercreep and his minions back to the era of big hair and Pac-Man tournaments for good.
Visuals and Audio
Radiant’s art style pays homage directly to Galaga and Space Invaders, bringing the ’80s spaceships back to life in vivid color on a modern space backdrop. Aside from the backdrop of passing stars, the new weapons and the bosses, Hexage takes no liberties with the classic Galaga and Space Invaders style. Although the style is retro, the crispness and glow of Radiant’s art brings it to life in a very modern way. The audio is perfectly designed to add to the experience, with crisp sound effects reminiscent of old-school arcade games while using more-than-simple 8-bit technology. The game features an atmospheric electronic musical score that provides a calm backdrop for the sometimes intense action.
Radiant’s gameplay makes it stand out as more than a simple indie homage to days gone by. It adds several layers of complexity to the familiar mechanics of Galaga to satisfy modern gamers’ “sophisticated” tastes.
Players gain access to a wide array of advanced weaponry, from seeker missiles to laser beams, each with its own unique strengths, weaknesses, and applicable strategies. Large creeps drop “credits” when killed, which can be used to purchase new weapons and upgrades at checkpoints throughout the game. Weapon upgrades do more than simply tweak stats; they completely change the way each weapon works by altering firing patterns, bullet counts, and firing frequency. The number of possible upgrade paths for the various weapons provides a unique gameplay experience for each player based on their own weapon preferences. We definitely didn’t have that in 1981.
Boss battles round out the experience quite nicely, providing additional challenges and valuable rewards. Boss battles also segment the game into cohesive, mission-based gameplay chunks rather than a continuous stream of arcade action.
In true indie style, Radiant carries players through an entertaining and whimsical storyline filled with humor and retro throwbacks. The player and the Supercreep exchange childish insults and threats throughout the game, as a commander from home base stoically provides strategic direction in the battle to save Earth. Even though it’s not an integral part of the gameplay, the storyline takes Radiant to another level of depth and enjoyment, helping the title to stand on its own merits as the offspring of a timeless classic.
Ouya Free Trial
Radiant is free to play for a very limited number of waves, after which players are required to shell out a small price to keep playing. As with other games, Radiant’s free trial is perfectly timed to give players an idea of what to expect in the full version. However, the trial does leave out the full range of weapons and upgrades available in the full game, which is a key part of the gameplay experience. For those willing to give this game a shot, believe me when I say that the weapons get much more radical as the game goes on.