Godlaser


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Rating: 3.8/5 (70 votes)
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PsychotronicGodlaserWhen a company calls itself Pyew Pyew, you know they're not going to make games about ponies. No, Godlaser, the opening salvo from Casey Yano and Anthony Giovanetti, is a vertically scrolling manic shooter (see Pararalyzer or The Last Canopy), influenced by Treasure's Ikaruga, among others, with a few tricks all its own.

Steer your ship with [WASD], and aim and fire with the mouse. The main thing you have to know, as the opening tutorial spells out in detail, is that enemy bullets come in three different flavors, and you can render yourself invulnerable to them by switching your ship to the correct color. Press [Q] for red, [E] for green, and [R] for blue. Changing forms serves a triple purpose—your main weapon takes on radically different characteristics, and absorbing bullets of your current color charges up one of three special meters that activate special abilities. You can heal your ship this way, release an area-clearing bomb attack, or even recharge your auxiliary weapon (fired with the [space] bar) once you have one.

There is also an extensive and unusual amount of customization available—not only do you gain experience points by killing enemy craft, but you collect money from their broken remains. The points go toward new abilities from a Diablo-style skill tree, while the money can be spent on upgrades to your ship's core statistics.

Analysis: What this all amounts to is an incredibly ambitious and far-reaching shooter, especially for something playable in your browser. In fact, the ideas outstrip the execution, because what should be an amazing game feels like it may have been released a bit too early. When it's working, when you're weaving through a maze of criss-crossing bullet patterns like a magic reindeer through a snowstorm, it's brilliant. But there is also a laundry list of features that are implemented clumsily or missing altogether.

The controls feel too complicated, simply because I don't have seven fingers on my left hand. The instructions on the power-up screens are confusing and sometimes contradictory. The pacing in many of the levels jumps erratically between hectic and yawning; a long stretch of helpless, boring cannon fodder enemies can give way suddenly to a vicious ambush. There is a puzzling lack of music during the levels, and when the boss theme kicks in, it fails to get the blood pumping for a good showdown.

But Godlaser just feels like it has too much potential to overlook. So I turn to you, the Jay is Games readers, for some constructive criticism. Your valuable and articulate insight has helped many a game developer in the past, so let's roll up our sleeves, tighten our suspenders, and give the good people at Pyew Pyew some feedback. If you don't like the game, what would make you want to play it? If you do like it, what about it is working for you? Godlaser is the first game from a pair of developers with a deep love for shoot-'em-ups and a lot of dedication. Let's help them get to the next level.

Play Godlaser

29 Comments

I agree with Psychotronic in that it feels a bit unfinished, largely in pacing. The tutorial seems fine, but as soon as you get to the first real level, it seems to get really complicated really quickly. As a result, I got only partway through the first level before I got disinterested and closed the window. Have the first actual level be only slightly tougher than the tutorial (as additional unguided training so players can get familiar with the switching and special abilities) and include a boss that requires a bit of quick-thinking to beat and I think the flow would be greatly improved.

The control complexity seemed to be an issue to me, as well. One idea: Have all three bullet types, but allow players to select two at a time (they'd have to dodge the third). This would make slightly more Ikaruga-like, but would reduce the number of keys required to switch to just one. If you wanted to keep all three simultaneously, maybe put them in a loop:

R -> G -> B -> R (etc.)

Maybe have a triangle-sorta thing in one of the corners that would rotate to indicate both which color you have now and which direction the other colors are in. Have Q rotate CCW and E rotate CW and it would simplify the controls by a lot.

Just thoughts from an amateur game developer, so take them with a grain of salt (or more, if you prefer a high-sodium diet). :)

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Great potential for this game, I agree. For what it's worth, here are some of my thoughts:

  • The red number by the ship represents your health, but you gain health by absorbing green bullets, not red ones. Not very logical.

  • The menu item "Training" should be called "Tutorial" - I clicked on it having already done the tutorial, thinking it was some additional training. And why is at the end of the list?

  • When you save a game, you then have to click Cancel to get back to the main menu...

  • It sometimes isn't obvious when you've bought an upgrade - a noise would be nice.

  • As mentioned, the workshop and skills descriptions are far too confusing for us poor casual gamers.

  • There's no backstory (unless I missed something) - they just suddenly start talking about this Godlaser thing.

  • At first, I didn't understand that certain skills required you to press the spacebar, and that this would reduce your energy.

  • Anyway, I really liked the music and the feel of the game but I think switching the three different colours and moving around in 2D is just too complicated.

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I found this game to be quite fun, except for one major problem: I'm color blind, and the orange and green look almost identical to me.

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Fuzzyevil Author Profile Page January 20, 2009 6:18 PM

A loop for switching colors would be very helpful. Trying to stretch my fingers and remember which key goes to which color seems to just get me killed.

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Tried a few levels, gave up then. In total, a nice concept:
- I liked the weapon upgrade system. Three different ways to develop your systems leaves plenty of room for personal preferences.
- Control explanations are presented really well and are almost intuitive (what's so wrong about a right click to change colors?).
- Enemies are varied widely and provide fast recognition (e.g. blue vs yellow shimmering gliders in mission 3). Bosses have predictable, but challenging schemes.

But I also came up with some major concerns:
- Handling is just sluggish. Have you played the last canopy? This is what control speed should be. And: waiting for my space ship to rotate feels like Astroids on the C64.
- I totally didn't get the energy system. Red bar becomes yellow and / or grey, numbers at the ship self - wtf? That energy bars being at the far side of the screen (where I almost never got the chance to look at) didn't help either.
- Vertical shooters are all about dodging bullets. But the shields of my spaceship seem just to attract those bullets and even count a hit when not fully touched. An "active" hitzone exactly as large as the ship self (or even a tad smaller) brings joy to fast players.

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Ah, way too complicated. Even on the first level, I had a really hard time matching the shields with the bullet colors. I ended up focusing more on which key I was supposed to press rather than avoiding bullets.

Also, I'm not a big fan of the dual control system (movement with WASD keys, firing with mouse), but that's probably just me.

What would I change? First of all, as has already been mentioned above, I would use a single key to rotate between shields. I would also probably make movement mouse-controlled, but again, I don't like the dual control system.

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For those that find their ship rotate/move speed is too low:

go to the workshop and upgrade your speed/skill. I suggest to play level 1 at least twice so you can get a decent speed.

I really like this game. Vertical shooters with upgrade systems have always been my favourite, and this one adds a nice new level to it.

Only thing I don't like about it is the keyboard controls, and especially that I can't change the keys the shields are assigned to. I can't get used to that r button.

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It's nice that you can continue to replay the levels for extra experience, but once you've upgraded all the money-related abilities, the money becomes useless. There should be a way to trade it in for experience or skill points, maybe at a rising scale, so that it isn't a complete waste to get the money.

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I maxed all of the skills (3 points in each) and didn't discover the "hidden" skills. Maybe I did it wrong :P

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I suggest that the ship shoot with left mouse click, and the shields be able to be swapped by means of scroll wheel on mouse. The issue with mouse controlling movement is that you can't move backwards while shooting, unless you throw in some ingenious mechanism that allows you to do that.

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Grasa Total January 20, 2009 8:53 PM

The graphic design in menu is beautiful. Playing any kind of mouse-aim game with a trackpad mouse is frustrating, so I don't hold it against the designers that my interest trailed off before long. But I agree that having one button loop through the colors would be great.

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Funnyguts January 20, 2009 9:16 PM

My suggestion for color change would be to map the blue shield to any of the keys below a, s, and w, instead of r. The c key may work best.

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Hmm, I don't really agree with most of the comments here, I thought this game was amazing and nearly perfect. Yes, the QER switching scheme was annoying, but in some previous game of switching between three colors that used a rotation system, I would always get confused. Here, even though I don't have seven fingers, I appreciated being able to know which button to press to switch to the color I wanted. My only problem with this scheme, though, is that I discovered that (after upgrading to get an attack when you switch shields) that if you hold down the button of the color you're in, the extra shot will repeat every few moments. Either disable this repetition to take away the temptation to repeat it, or make it automatic; trying to hold down E while navigating with WASD was annoying.

Power-ups; took me a second to understand the whole deal with pressing space, and running out of energy, etc, but I thought it wasn't too complicated. Oh, and I LOVE the teleport feature, especially when you upgrade it so that it doesn't cost energy. Teleporting around enemies and not having to worry about running out of energy is so much fun! Against the teleporting arrow-like enemies, it's so great to pop up behind wherever they teleport to, when you teleport behind the big bugs it's hilarious to watch them clumsily try to turn around, and of course, jumping between colored waves of boss bullets is really satisfying.

I don't know if this is a concern, but because of teleport, green was vastly overpowered; especially since green absorption = life, you could just play on only green after upgrading teleport. But I rather liked being able to settle on green as a default, for when the enemies and bullets got dense and I didn't want the extra dimension of color-switching to worry about. Having the option of sidestepping a dimension of complexity, especially for a casual game, is great. Especially since I thought the game was strong enough as a normal vertical shooter even without the color-switching stuff.

Other balance issues: blue absorption is far less efficient than upgrading enrage, getting hit to charge energy, and then recovering life. Again I don't mind, but by the end I was using green primarily, occasionally switching to red when I needed a spread weapon or to charge a nova, and almost never using blue. The 'freeze bullets' ability isn't useful enough (especially compared to teleport) to make blue worth using.

I agree with jimbog, your life should be colored in green to correspond with green bullets healing you.

Sometimes the boss theme music was really perfect, but yeah, there wasn't too much music. But I barely noticed.

Another thing; it's very easy to get the cash-based upgrades, and soon I found myself with hundreds of thousands of credits with nothing to spend it on. Maybe add some other levels of upgrades, or some other things to upgrade (i.e. general shot power, shield strength, etc), or maybe have something like 100K or 500K credits or some other suitably large number = 1 experience.

The reason, actually, I came to check the comments was because after I beat the second tier, and unlocked "moderately difficult" or whatever, no new levels showed up. Is this a glitch? Anybody else have this problem, or is there no third tier (in which case, what does the second tier unlock)? I am using Flash 9 (I'm on Mac OSX 10.3.9 so I can't upgrade to Flash 10), but I doubt that would be a problem since the rest of the game has been running fine...

Also, I don't know where the game mentions the 'hidden' skills that Matt refers to, but I'm about 10 skill points away from maxing out everything, and if it doesn't already exist it would be neat to have some sort of reward.

Overall, I'm surprised to see such a critical reception. I feel like games that need a lot more work often get by on JIG without nearly half as much commenting-even for first-time authors. Furthermore, the flaws that have been pointed out I feel are very minor, not enough to make the fame feel rushed or to be that big a deal. So, Pyew Pyew, here's one gamer that thinks the game feels finished, polished, not rushed, and executed to match its ambition. This is one of the best vertical shooters I've played (I especially appreciate the WASD + mouse schematic, which many vertical shooters don't have). Keep up the great work!

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Whew! Beat it!

On both easy and hard mode!

Great game... wish it had been longer.

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m3psi,

I think because Mr P specifically asked for people's feedback in the review, that attracted more critical comments than usual.

When asked for suggestions there's a tendency to describe what you don't like about a game rather than what you do like. I know I do this anyway! I do think it's a great game; 3.9/5 is probably a bit harsh. I'm looking forward to version 2!

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Why did I remembered Touhou when I play this game? Anyway, nice game.

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Another game that doesn't load for me... Anyone else have this problem? I upgraded to the latest version of flash the last time I had this problem, so I don't think that is the problem.

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After spending over two hours to max out all three skill trees, no hidden skills appeared for me either. I don't know if they're supposed to be *that* hidden, or if it's a mistake in the game.

P.S. To grind the final boss for XP

At minimum, max Enrage and everything under blue except for Absorb. Max HP would be the next-highest priority, and nothing else matters much for the boss itself, although maxed teleport and the Workshop upgrades make the stage a bit easier.

Kill as many enemies in the stage as you can, and don't worry too much about getting hit. The section immediately before the boss, with the trios of ships moving diagonally, is definitely the most dangerous part if you're playing on Hard. The ships only fire when you're under them, so shoot one side from a diagonal angle while moving in sync with the other side's lines of shots, then reverse and repeat. You can dodge by repeatedly teleporting from side to side if you're having trouble. As long as you have at least 3-4 lives left by the time you reach the boss you should be fine.

When you get to the boss, stay in a clear spot in the lower right corner and fire while holding down R for constant heavy damage. Time stop as soon as bullets appear and refresh it as soon as it wears off. Only move slightly to dodge the rotating pieces and any non-blue bullets that eventually reach you. This strategy actually works better on Hard, as the bullet patterns are sparser so you don't need to switch colors to absorb them like on Normal.

If you chain time stop the boss should be almost dead by the time you're out of energy. Get hit once (by a bullet, not a rotating thingie) for more energy, then time stop twice more and the boss should be dead. Even if you reach the boss on your last life you can beat him fairly easily if you're more conservative with the time stops.

Lastly, and this is important, pause and exit the stage before the boss dies but before the screen fades out. You still get the XP but you don't have to sit through the ending every time. If you've purchased both XP booster items and kill most of the regular enemies you should get about 40,000 XP for 4-5 minutes work.

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Anonymous January 22, 2009 1:01 PM

Why do I keep having to rebuy the XP gain skill? Does it reset when I go up a level or something?

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Hey, in case anyone hasn't noticed

There seems to be a hidden weapon upgrade under the primary weapon upgrades on the skills menu. I haven't maxed everything out yet, but I think you can upgrade it when you do. It's a bit of a pixel hunt though.

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So wait, if the company is called pyewpyew, why are they putting out color-matching games? When I want to shoot stuff, I don't want to be worried about my outfit matching the bad guys. Give me shields, or don't! At the very least, if you INSIST on using WASD, make the Q and E keys cycle through the shields. Think about it; if you're one shield color, then you only have 2 options to choose from. Still, I don't like that I basically have to stop moving to change shield color. Can't I at least use my mousewheel? Don't get me wrong; I love having multiple weapon options and all (bring back Raiden X!), but don't make it obtrusive. It becomes clear in the second level that if you refuse to change colors, you will have a very hard time of things. Simple avoidance, which has worked for decades, is not enough. There's a fine line between challenge and work. This feels like work.

And really, shield color as a game mechanic?

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Oh, whoops. It looks like it's just the same thing, just a blurry unupgradable version.

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Hey everyone at Jayisgames this is Casey,the co-designer for GodLaser.

All of your criticisms and suggestions have been very useful and we are working on making a better version for when we finally release it to the flash portals.

I think for the next version of the game we can allow some simple changes such as giving other shield switching control schemes and solving some pacing issues in the game.

Thanks again,
-Casey

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TheSavant Author Profile Page January 27, 2009 2:01 PM

This is definately a great game that needs just a bit more work.

My main suggestion would be to implement the 1,2, and 3 keys for color switches. It just feels wonky the way R key used for blue, becuase it is kind of hard to hit while you're controlling everything else and it just feels wierd because the colors aren't in a straight line. Another suggestion would be to just use Q and E, and have them cylcle between colors.

Overall though, I'm really liking the game so far, just a bit upset that the potential greatness is undermined by what I consider pretty big flaws.

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Link is dead.

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ThomasG Author Profile Page August 7, 2010 5:19 PM replied to Fre

Sorry about the link. I have reported it to JIG headquarters.

Thanks.

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Link is fixed. Thanks for the alert, Fre! :)

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ThomasG Author Profile Page August 9, 2010 12:35 AM replied to Jay

Thanks Jay. Back to the game...

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