Super Space Serpent SE / Perpetuum Mobile Kit Review (Switch eShop)
Remember Jeff Minter? Both Perpetuum Mobile and Super Space Serpent SE are heavily inspired by games like Tempest and Polybiusand that’s not bad. There’s always room in the game world for more wireframes, purples, and nice liquid trance beats.
While Perpetuum Mobile sounds like an iPhone game, it’s actually musical term describing “whole musical compositions or passages from them, which are characterized by a continuous stream of notes”. So. It’s also a video game that originally came out on PC, Xbox One, and Oculus Rift as a virtual reality experience last year. Both games in this set are scoring games, and this is the simpler of the two: a 3D procedurally generated endless runner where you head for a screen, laser auto-shoot, destruction, and dodging incoming obstacles. You can grab health badges to stay in the game, and new enemies appear as you keep increasing your speed. You can only move left and right, and there are no buttons to press, making it a pretty easy thing to do.
While it could work better as a VR experience, it lacks the sophistication and immediacy of scoring, and isn’t particularly engaging or varied. However, the music is nice and the visual style, although simplistic, is okay. What he needs is a little more in the way of developing a GPA addict. There are no noticeable visual or audio cues to let you know you’ve collided with an object, meaning you have to keep an eye on your health meter in the top right corner at all times, as well as some sort of boost, smart bombs, or weapon boosts. it would be more interesting. Whatever the case, you’re just entering an endless, relentless, flow tunnel, trying to stay alive and increasing your numbers. You will give it a few runs, but it won’t grab your attention forever.
The Super Space Serpent SE, on the other hand, does a pretty good job of paying homage to Minter. It has a Tempest vibe in its evolving house beat, distorted voice-over and visual feedback, delivering tongue-in-cheek praise all over the screen. Despite its simplicity, it is a far more engaging experience than Perpetuum Mobile. Against the backdrop of a 3D grid, the game runs in 2D within a square arena. You control your ship with the left joystick and fire 360 degrees with the right stick, firing at tiny alien ships, missiles and object formations as they emerge from warp portals. It starts casually enough, letting you get a feel for the positioning, camping spots, and how to move around the arena, but really hits its stride when you get past the first boss stage: the Star Fox Andross-esque skeleton head. From Stage 12 onwards, the challenge certainly continues, and while it doesn’t reach the high adrenaline-pumping heights of Jeff Minter’s best games, Super Space Serpent SE is still playing feverish attack with a low score.
There are random health boosts to get and falling number tickers that can increase attack power. Soaring through the warps, shooting bullets in all directions at the advancing swarms, and trying to survive the countdown that will end the current wave is pretty fun. However, it should be noted that the alien objects are so small in manual mode that they are difficult to track due to the pulsating purple background and various pyrotechnic effects. We’re also not too fond of the green screen handicap that obscures your vision if you unwittingly pick a “6” from the bonus box. Later in the game, this can completely kill your run.
At $12.99, this package could have been a bit cheaper, primarily because the Super Space Serpent SE is the main attraction and the Perpetuum Mobile feels like an added bonus. None of these games will change your expectations of what an indie game can achieve, but if you enjoy classic arcade games like Robotronand can’t get enough of Minter-style trippy audio-visual combinations, you’ll enjoy spending a couple of hours climbing the leaderboards – but probably not much more.