colourPod 2: dimensionPod
Action game time! In colourPod 2: dimensionPod, you are a plucky gun turret in the center of the screen that has to survive while bad guys attack you from all sides. Rotate the turret with your mouse and shoot the black-and-white enemies by clicking. If you see a coloured orb, do not shoot it. It's a power-up. Instead, point the opposite direction and absorb it with the shield on your back. Suck up enough orbs of one colour, and you'll boost one of your special abilities, which are controlled with the keyboard. You'll get instructions as you acquire them, but they're all in the WASD region. Tip: Get lots of orange orbs. They make you shoot faster.
The twist here is the dimension-shifting mechanic. Some enemies appear hollow, which means they exist in the opposite dimensional reality, and you'll have to press [space] to switch planes, and then blast 'em. The gameplay is sort of a rapid-fire test of precision Pavlovian responses. Incoming triangle! Switch point click! Incoming purple thing! Point away don't click! If you had trouble learning the Macarena, don't play this game, or you may fall over and hurt yourself.
Analysis/Long Rant: This game is a little old now, but we haven't done a straight action game all week, so I figured it was time to mindlessly shoot stuff. To be fair, dimensionPod does require a little brainpower, but we're not talking rocket science. Of course, to be absolutely fair, the game is set in space, so there may actually be rockets involved, but don't worry, you won't have to deal with any science.
...except for the part about shifting dimensions. That's kind of science-y. And the lasers.
Also, you're mostly fighting various geometric shapes, and that may remind you of math, which, in turn, could evoke unpleasant memories of thinking. So if you're truly looking to shut your brain off and watch pretty explosions, you may want to CENSORED ENDORSEMENT OF ILLICIT SUBSTANCES and just have dimensionPod running nearby, because the background music is pretty kickin'.
And it better be good, because there are no sound effects in this game at all. You have to keep track of everything with your poor overworked eyeballs, which makes it very difficult to multi-task, and dimensionPod is practically a game about multi-tasking.
A Message to all Game-Designers, Especially Those Who Are Making Action Games: No matter how awesome your music is (in this case: Headlock by Imogen Heap, remixed by High Contrast), please put sound effects in your game, because I do not have two brains to process all that visual information. I need to be able to shoot at one enemy, instantly direct my attention to the next one, and then hear the explosion of the first one in the background, so I know I don't have to deal with it again. I need to hear a sound when I get hit, so I don't have to check my health bar while I'm being attacked by two dozen rabid octagons. This is not optional. Even if you have to steal the sound effects from Mega Man, put 'em in there.
Okay, I'm done.
Wait, I'm not done. I really like dimensionPod. The enemies get to be pretty inventive (though there's only so much personality you can pack into a trapezoid) and the way you get to choose your power-ups is nicely integrated with the game's central concept. There's one special power later on that requires me to have three hands to go with my two brains, but whatever, I can always charge up my nuke instead. Oh, and if you get to the end, there's a shocking plot twist. Seriously!
But the lack of sound effects quite simply drives me crazy, because without them, the game is SO. MUCH. HARDER. than it has to be. Yes, I know we're all used to playing games without sound at work or school, or if we do play them with sound, we like to be blasting our iTunes Party-Hearty mix or whatever, so it seems like I'm making a big stink about nothing; (inhale) but I swear sound design makes the difference between a good game, like colourPod 2: dimensionPod, and a great game, like Geometry Wars. This is not the only game around without sound effects, but it set off my Incredible Hulk trigger because it's so good in every other aspect of design, but so totally blind in this one.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go punch the dickens out of my body pillow, which has done nothing to deserve my wrath, but will nonetheless suffer.