ZunderFury! The very name sends a shiver down your spine. The adrenaline runs spicy through your veins as you crack your knuckles and chug down a quadruple latte, preparing for blood. ZunderFury! With a name like that, you know it's not gonna be about Mahjong. No! It's going to be a blast-a-thon. A bullet-fest. A slaughter of thousands. A 90-mile per hour trip through the Carpal Tunnel. ZunderFury! Lock and load, ladies and gents, we're going to Painville. Population: everybody that's not you. (Cue "Eye of the Tiger".)
Following in the well-trod footsteps of games like Geometry Wars and Robotron 2084, developer Doogog's ZunderFury is a hardcore arena shooter that is happiest when it's overwhelming you with throngs of spiky blob-things. Control your tank's movement with the arrow keys or WASD, and aim with the mouse. Auto-fire is included — just click once to turn your gun on full blast, and once more to turn it off if you're in the mood to get summarily blown up. Use one of your stock of bombs by pressing [space] or [ctrl], while [Esc] or [P] get you the pause menu, where you can take a break or turn off the incongruous but harmless trance music.
Choose between two fighters — Zunder, who is equipped with your standard machine gun, and Fury, who packs a short-range flame-thrower. It's generally easier to play with Zunder, but when there's a mob of 50 death orbs outracing you, it's sometimes nice to have twin streams of fire at your disposal.
Leader boards for both fighters are, of course, included. The key to high scores is to keep your score multiplier up, and the only way to do that is to not die. Good luck with that. The odds are against you.
Analysis: ZunderFury took some time to grow on me. The pure thrill of facing dozens and dozens of enemies simultaneously is undeniable (though it takes about 12 levels before the game really starts to throw down), but in order to maximize the number of active threats, the game cuts way back on the special effects. The background is a single-color wash, and the bad guys explode in unconvincing yellow poofs. In fact, the whole audio/visual package comes off as artless and forgettable. This is a tale told by a programmer, full of ZunderFury, signifying nothing.
An undocumented contract has evolved in modern arena shooters: in exchange for what is essentially brainless gameplay, the screen will blow your mind with pretty colors. Most games in this genre are either abstract neon trance sessions or semi-realistic, blood-spattering gut-wrenchers. It's kind of strange to play a shooter content simply to generate hundreds of generic enemies and kill you honestly.
But that's what Zunderfury is, and for a game with so little personality, it's surprisingly compelling. You can spend money in between rounds to upgrade your ship, and the game comes with a full set of Xbox Live-style achievements, called "Feats", which is a smart way to personalize and flesh out the experience.
Due to the creeping speed of your main ship, ZunderFury plays as more grueling than manic, but it really keeps the pressure on, with relentless waves of cannon fodder and a decent level of tactical variety. Some of the enemies have shields, which force you to sidestep and attack from behind, and others sit heavily armored and motionless, pumping out homing missiles. Some ships can leave the screen and return in unpredictable places, so if your usual strategy in this type of game is to cower in the corner and lay down suppressing fire, you're out of luck this time. Although it is pretty annoying to get blind-sided by an enemy coming in from off-screen, and I'm not sure why some ships can pass through the boundaries of the play field while others bounce off them.
Short on pizzazz but long on intensity, ZunderFury is overall a pretty satisfying way to scratch your trigger finger itch, especially for a Flash creation. It's unpretentious, unapologetic, and extremely challenging. The best thing about it might be its title, but you must admit, that's one fantastic title.