Let's be honest: you can't trust circles. You never know which way they're facing and you can't measure them without using irrational numbers. What's their angle? I don't know. But they seem a little too perfect and a little too curvilinear, and anything I can't draw by hand should be beaten roundly.
Luckily, Tonypa has addressed my concerns by releasing a sequel to ShoOot, his cathartic circle extermination simulator from 2005. ShoOot 2: revenge of square is more of a spiritual successor than a direct sequel, since you can now move in two dimensions and the gameplay focus has shifted from overwhelming rapid-fire madness to a more deliberate and unusual rhythm.
You can move your square avatar freely around the screen with the mouse, but you have no direct control over your gun. Instead, the square rotates on its own, firing automatically in whatever direction it happens to be facing. You can speed up your rotation slightly by holding [Z] and slow it down with [X], but barring power-ups, your fire rate is slow and constant. Therefore, you must spend the free time between shots lining up the next one. Each time you fire and hit something, your score multiplier goes up by one. Miss once, and it drops to zero.
Until you get used to it, this system feels rather weird. You don't want to get too close to your prey, since the larger circles split into smaller ones when shot, but it's hard to shoot things when you don't have precise control over your aim. So you end up lurking uncertainly nearby like a slightly drunken man swatting hornets. I eventually got so I could hit my targets pretty consistently, but it doesn't feel quite like any other shooter I've played.
Analysis: ShoOot 2 comes with Tonypa's usual handsome minimalist visual style, and a low-down crunching soundtrack that drives the pace of the game brilliantly. There's a power-up called "caffeine" that speeds up your gun temporarily, and I think it's a missed opportunity that the music doesn't speed up to match. In a perfect world, there would be an aggressive track for that and a slower one for the "nap-time" power-up. Maybe in ShoOot 3.
Although the innovative firing mechanism makes this game uniquely engaging, I can't help but feel that it isn't a complete success. The main problem is the power-ups. Only one of these is permanent, and it occurs randomly. It's possible to play through level after level without ever upgrading your firepower — which also doubles as your remaining health — and although that makes the game less hectic, it also makes it impossible to survive after a certain point. Some of the power-ups are extremely helpful, while others are near-useless, and you can't tell what you're getting until you grab one. The unpredictability keeps you on your toes, but I still would have liked having more control over my fate, especially with regard to the permanent upgrades.
But in other respects, ShoOot 2 is a smoOoth ride through intelligent shoOoter-ville. Having to plan your rotating attacks while weaving between dozens of moving obstacles is fascinating. Plus, every few levels you'll face a mind-blowingly huge boss circle, which is an unexpected coat of tangy frosting on an already tasty cake. ShoOot 2 may not be the ideal implementation of this gameplay idea, but it's still a very coOol game.