(Wii U eShop)

XType Plus (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

XType Plus Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

The Citizen Kane of Web Framework games on the Wii U

Note: XType Plus was meant to be released on 31st July along with online leaderboards, but due to a bug in the ranking functionality the game was delayed. It was reinstated on the European eShop on 6th August, and is awaiting a North American release.

Nintendo has opened up the floodgates to indie developers on Wii U with its Web Framework for HTML5 games – an open platform for anyone with the programming grit to put their work out there – but the platform hasn't quite delivered on its promise yet. This open playing field means many of the Web Framework games so far have been microbudget one-person projects full of heart but short on quality. The latest developer to throw their hat into the HTML5 ring, however, is none other than Dominic Szablewski, creator of the Impact engine used to port HTML5 games to the Nintendo Web Framework; his German-based studio PhobosLab has launched XType Plus, a twin-stick shoot 'em up that marks the developer's first foray into eShop gaming. If anyone can succeed in HTML5 on Wii U, it's Szablewski, and XType Plus does not disappoint.

It's a fixed shooter, meaning all gameplay takes place on a single screen with enemies descending upon your lonely starship. The controls are twin-stick elegance: the left analogue stick moves your ship, and the right stick controls the direction of your shots; in "Plus Mode" you can also press R for EMP bombs, but that's as far as the button clutter goes. Considering so many Web Framework games have been touch-based affairs, it's refreshing to see a purely button-based HTML5 effort, allowing for nuance in the controls that you can't get with stylus tapping. All the action is displayed on the TV screen, while the GamePad displays the essential statistics: number of bullets fired, and number of enemy bullets dodged. It's fun to see how insanely high these numbers get. You can also use the Wii U Pro Controller or the Wii Classic Controller, making this one of the first Web Framework releases to support multiple control options.

XType Plus implements a minimalist visual style that doesn't quite stand out in the gorgeous world of shoot 'em ups, but it echoes Geometry Wars in its neon-on-black glowing flair. The aesthetic highlight by far, however, is the bumpin' electronic soundtrack by composer Andreas Lösch. Shmups tend to pride themselves on their music, and XType delivers in spades; in many ways it's reminiscent of Kenji Yamamoto's groundbreaking electronic soundtrack for Metroid Prime, albeit with a decidedly more beat-heavy feel for optimum rockitude while you blast spaceships into oblivion.

The enemies in XType are all procedurally-generated boss characters – there are no other opponents whatsoever. Szablewski says he was inspired by the 2003 Japanese freeware shooter Warning Forever, and it allows the simple gameplay to focus on the core mechanics rather than overwhelming players with gimmicky enemies or power-ups. There are two modes: Classic Mode, the traditional bullet hell three-life mode, and Plus Mode, a time attack mode with unlimited lives.

Classic Mode is what you'd expect, with bosses getting progressively tougher the longer you survive. With the small budget and web framework, XType Plus can't afford a ton of variety in enemies, so it can feel a bit repetitive after a while, but Plus Mode is where XType truly shines. Rather than rack up a high score with three lives, you must survive as long as possible with a counter ticking down to zero – destroying bosses adds time to the counter, and losing a life subtracts time. You also get three EMP bombs in this mode, which don't affect the enemies but wipe away all bullets onscreen. This mode adds just enough depth without changing the old-school game mechanics.

Conclusion

It's no Ikaruga, but XType Plus doesn't need to be; at a bargain bin price, it's a proof-of-concept for Nintendo's Web Framework that finally validates the HTML5 platform on Wii U. It'll scratch the shoot 'em up itch for fans of the genre with a no-frills approach that concentrates on core game mechanics over bells and whistles, and for newbies, XType Plus is more inviting than many other shmup titles. We hope PhobosLab's elegant twin-stick shooter is a sign of great things to come from indie developers on Wii U.

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User Comments (38)

unrandomsam

#1

unrandomsam said:

Ikaruga itself is £6.99 on Steam (Could have got it at 50% off once I think which is about the same price as this).

I think it is a fair comparison to compare it with other indie bullet hell shmups as well - like Ether Vaper Remaster / Jamestown / Jets n Guns Gold / Satazius etc etc.

(I will probably get it if off tv is added looks pretty primitive though).

Pahvi

#2

Pahvi said:

@unrandomsam: I'd take at least Jets'n'Guns Gold and Satazius off yourlist of danmaku and add Danmaku Unlimited 2 (Steam and iOS, I believe).

I agree on the game being visually rather "primitive". The bosses aren't even palette-swapped. But then again, one could say that Super Hexagon is also rather primitive, visually, but it's a very addicting game nonetheless. XType Plus doesn't come near that game, though.

TheWPCTraveler

#4

TheWPCTraveler said:

A good eShop game, they say. On my radar, I say.
For cheap, they say. Game gets prioritized, I say.
A shmup, they say. Wishlisted, I say.

Kudos to the dev for putting out something like this!

sinalefa

#5

sinalefa said:

Day 2 for me because Day 1 got botched by the leaderbug. Boss only sounds great.

Raiko

#8

Raiko said:

It's a great game for the price. It's massively addictive. Even without the leaderboards i've clocked in eight hours in 4 days. Very enjoyable!

Genesaur

#9

Genesaur said:

Shame there isn't off-TV play, but I'll surely be getting this once it's back up, regardless. Quite looking forward to this game's music.

gage_wolf

#11

gage_wolf said:

"It's no Ikaruga, but XType Plus doesn't need to be; at a bargain bin price.."

I won't support this or any other "bargain bin priced game." I won't support turning home consoles into cheap game ghettos. We have phones and tablets for that.

Olmectron

#13

Olmectron said:

Really looking for this game. Too bad I didn't get it when it was available, I could be playing it right now, although without online, couldn't I?

Olmectron

#14

Olmectron said:

@gage_wolf I respect your point of view, but mine is that as long as the price equals the quality the game has, any game should be welcome (as subjective as it is).

I wouldn't buy "The Letter" even at its actual price ($1.99) because of the poor quality and content it has. But XType seems to have good quality value for a bargain bin price. The prices are not bad, the bad thing is to try to sell an alpha version of a game like a finished one. Or to sell a game like XType Plus for $14.99.

Sean_Aaron

#15

Sean_Aaron said:

That's a nice surprise. I was going to buy this last week, but the bug spoiled my chances. Awaiting the all-clear before purchasing!

OorWullie

#16

OorWullie said:

@gage_wolf I'm with you man,games like this have no place on home consoles,3DS maybe but not on Wii U.You can play this for free on your browser so why bother?Even better,download Sky Force HD for free on Android which features more variety in its opening few seconds than this does in its entirety.

I love SHMUPS,including Geometry Wars which I suppose this could be compared to but in no way is this worth even close to an 8.Embarassing!

Stu13

#17

Stu13 said:

Not a big shmup fan, but this is the best tagline of any article I've ever seen on this site.

JarredBuzzo

#18

JarredBuzzo said:

An inexpensive eShop game that's good is rare. I'll download this one.

Edit: Errr, eShop says this game isn't available in the US...

Jayvir

#19

Jayvir said:

I wanted to pick this up but too bad it's not on the eshop at the moment.

JustinH

#20

JustinH said:

8/10? This just makes the delay sting even worse.

@gage_wolf I live in Canada so I haven't had the pleasure of playing this game yet, but it seems like this game is top-notch so far as quality is concerned, just a little short. Does that really create a "ghetto"? Would it be better if the game was $60, 15 hours and full of bloated moments that don't accomplish anything?

Shambo

#21

Shambo said:

Well, I was hoping I wouldn't have to say this anymore about this title, but I can't wait to play it!

Pahvi

#23

Pahvi said:

@Robottiimu2000: XType Plus was pulled from the European eShop while they're patching a critical bug in the game. And no, not UK only since I got it as well and I'm in Finland.

Henmii

#25

Henmii said:

"The enemies in XType are all procedurally-generated boss characters"

Like generically produced? If so, I guess I'll pass.

defrb

#26

defrb said:

I dont like companies hwo take Euro's for Dollars, 2.99 euro is 2.99 $.
We allready pay more for things like diesel, gasoline, houses, wifes.

Pahvi

#27

Pahvi said:

@Henmii Yes, they are generic. I think the random seeds are a fixed sequence (so the nth boss is the same on every time you play).

lifer

#29

lifer said:

@Pahvi:
That's completely not true, procedurally generated does not mean they are the same. It's the opposite.
The boss formations are randomized and will never be the same between any two plays.

Pahvi

#30

Pahvi said:

@lifer Ok, I just checked that two replays had different enemies for phases 1 and 2. So you're right on that account.

However, I disagree that procedural generation would, by definition, exclude the fixing of seed values for the pseudorandom number generator. See the Sentinel on CBM-64 or how Worms produce level maps from a character sequence. Or the galaxies in Elite 1.

eviLaTtenDant

#31

eviLaTtenDant said:

So this is just a "get the highest score possible", not a "you can actually beat it" type of game, right?
If so i'll probably wait for a discount since i rarely play these games more than once.
Could also have been nice if you could control your shots with the touchscreen and/or Wii Remote per pointer on screen.

WiiLovePeace

#34

WiiLovePeace said:

Awesome, awesome game at a great price. Love chasing my friends on the leaderboard & watching my skills increase. Everyone should buy it! :D

Pahvi

#35

Pahvi said:

Anyway - it took me about 16 hours of playing in two weeks before I got... fed up as playing for higher scores the game had become a chore rather than a fun pastime. That much gaming for 3€ is in my book perfectly reasonable.

MeloMan

#36

MeloMan said:

Chain Blaster comes to mind a little being single screen. I'll add this to my overcrowded wish list.

S3OL

#37

S3OL said:

Was eye balling this for a while... I may give in and just buy it. If it gets an 8 on here, it's doing something right and the price is just great too.

Mrclaycoat

#38

Mrclaycoat said:

Totally loving this game. Bought it along with Scram kitty and this is by far the better of the two games. The trailer make sit look a bit harder than it actually is, I highly recommend this one!

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