Shoot 'em ups have evolved quite a bit since their humble beginning in arcades back in the early 80's, taking on a much more maniacal pacing and intensity in recent years. While we've already seen Metal Torrent offer a more modern shooting experience on the DSiWare service, Cosmos X2 takes a slightly different approach and brings a more classic variation for gamers who prefer their shooters a bit more on the tame side.
As with most shooters, navigating your way through each of the game's levels will occupy the majority of your time and of course we can't forget the trademark end of level boss fights as well. In order to accomplish these tasks, you'll be given your choice of two ship alignments that will determine not only the type of firepower your ship will have at its disposal, but also what type of shield. You'll have your choice of Power, Attraction, and Repulsion, each offering their own specific strengths and weaknesses.
The game also presents you with quite a few different game play modes to choose from. The main adventure is the meat of the package and comes in three difficulties. When you first begin the game you'll have Easy and Normal already unlocked, but you'll have to beat one of them in order to access Hard — to do that you'll have to maneuver your way through each of the game's six stages and take out their bosses.
If you've finished up the main adventure or are just looking for a nice diversion, there are three additional modes to choose from. Boss Rush allows you to take on the game's set of bosses, one right after another, and this time at a much higher level of difficulty. Chase puts you on a high speed chase to destroy a powerful enemy ship that's attempting to escape. And last by not least is Survival that will toss everything including the kitchen sink at you in an all-out test of your survival skills.
The gameplay itself is solid enough, albeit a bit on the simplistic side, with varying types of firepower to choose from, not to mention the unique ability to recharge the weapon not currently in use by destroying enemies with your active cannon. It's also quite useful in the way you can switch ship alignments on the fly and in the heat of battle when necessary as well. One fairly negative aspect of the controls is that your ship's hit box is rather large, something that can make maneuvering between enemy fire a bit more tricky than it really ought to be, especially given the game's rather deliberate pace.
From a visual standpoint, Cosmos X2 sticks to a very basic presentation using mostly stars and chunks of asteroids for the various scenery. Occasionally you'll be treated to a flashy space port or a more detailed planetary surface, but for the most part the game sticks to a "less is more" graphical approach.
While the musical score itself is interesting enough, the tracks themselves tend to be very simple in their construction, something that can make them become a bit repetitive over long playing sessions. There are a handful of sound effects to further liven things up, but even they can become a bit grating after awhile.
The developers of Cosmos X2 have chosen to take an old-school approach in their design and execution of the game and that alone will likely pigeon-hole the game towards a very specific group of shooter fans. Fans of the classic 8-bit era shoot-'em-ups will like find Cosmos X2 a nice reminder of days gone by, but gamers who've become accustomed to the manic screen-filling sprays of enemy fire found in many of today's bullet hell shooters will likely find the slower pace of the game a bit too lacking in the intensity department.