Death Vs. Monstars
This is the kind of efficient plotting and character design I like to see in a shooter. What's your motivation for exterminating vast populations of cute eyeballey critters? Well, you're Death, you see, and in a shocking twist, you like to kill stuffs. No city in peril, no alien threat—all you want to do is *bang* *bang* *bang* *bang* and a *click* *ka-ching* and take their money.
Death Vs. Monstars (from HDOS Databank request 01 creators GameReclaim) is not your typical Flash arena shooter, thanks to a clever control scheme that lets you play only with the mouse. You fire, constantly and hyperactively, in the opposite direction of your movement. This makes sense, because when you dodge away from a wee beastie who wants to catch you and chew on your giblets, you'll automatically be shooting at it. To strafe, just hold the mouse button to lock your firing direction. Easy, but it takes some adjustment if you're used to the old wasd-and-mouse setup. I prefer this, frankly. It feels clean and elegant, and it lets you carve your way through the hordes like buckshot through sherbet.
As the everlasting incarnation of mortality (and so adorable!), you also get some super powers. When your anger meter is full, double-click to turn enemy bullets into gold and release a wave of destruction in all directions. Your other meter is Slow Motion—hold the [Space Bar] to activate it and slip through the crowds like a slug through sherbet.
Between levels, spend your accumulated blood money on new weapons, regenerating health, and the like. The main menu screen is a little hard to read at first, so here's the quick explanation: missions are on the left, and they unlock in sequential order as you beat them. Weapon shop is on the right. Mmm…sherbet.
Analysis: The engine behind Death Vs. Monstars is impressive, hurling hundreds of moving sprites around the arena with nary a stutter. And what makes a shooter work, really, is the smoothness. Without it, there is no rhythm; and with no rhythm, there is no rush blood trance rage.
Though it takes a few missions before the Monstars (a cunning portmanteau of "monsters" and "supraorbitar" (oh hush, it could happen)) start shooting back, it doesn't take long at all before they're attacking in large enough groups to transform you into a creature made of pure reflex. Luckily, the bright colors and crisp character outlines make it easy to see all the important details in the chaos. This game is a superb argument against particle explosions.
I have already heard some talk that the money system is unbalanced, that it is too easy to "farm" certain levels and therefore gain an unfair advantage; and to this I say, "Don't farm then, you addled daftmobiles. Try to beat it without repeating any levels, like a hero would."
As brainless as Death Vs. Monstars comes across, it is constructed smartly. monsters appear in well-paced waves, and their movement patterns complement each other. It's a surprisingly casual shooter as well, due to the simplified control scheme, the upgradable health bar, and the abusable weapon shop. The hardcore shmup fan will lay waste to this game fairly quickly, but not without a great deal of joy; and there's always the final endless "Score-Hog" level, for high score bragging rights.
In Short: Death Vs. Monstars is super-awesome. Sherbet is yummy.