Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: Pixel Perfex
Release Date: October 5th, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
The Switch has quickly seen a smattering of classic and brand new shoot ’em ups over the last few months. The latest, Earth Atlantis, pulls away from the sky and space for an underwater adventure that changes up the standard scrolling gameplay the genre typically employs. It brings a unique art style and enough bosses to keep you frustrated throughout just look a good shoot ’em up should. On paper its fantastic, but it has a few cracks around the way.
Earth Atlantis pits you in a submarine, exploring the underwater remains of our old civilization as you shoot monster fish and track down crazy monster fish bosses. Instead of just scrolling across the screen, the game takes place on a giant map you’ll explore. New areas get unlocked by tracking down various bosses that get marked on your map so you can track down more bosses. Once you’ve finally beat them all, which can take some time, you unlock a second mode that adds a clock to the mix while you are given new targets to eliminate. It’s all wrapped up in its greatest feature, its unique art style that is made to look like a black and white pencil sketch. The game is easily one of the best looking shooters because of this.
Everything looks great to start with, but then tedium starts to set it. Choosing to switch to a giant map instead of standard scrolling levels give it a Metroidvania feel to it. However, the map isn’t large enough to stay fresh. Its large enough that it will take a bit to get from one end to the other, but with the amount of bosses they’ve thrown in, you’re constantly forced to back track. It quickly gets frustrated when you’ve gone back and forth ten times since there is no natural progression in defeating them.
To add insult to injury, the secondary weapon, various missiles, are randomly scattered on the map instead of coming from defeated enemies. If you happen to die, which will happen a lot against many of the bosses, you’re going to have to go back and forth some more to get a secondary weapon and power it up. Thrown all together, the frustration is going to make you want to stop playing than hunting down anymore of the otherwise great bosses. If only there could have been some sort of warp system between the various checkpoints, the game could be amazing compared to average.
While the game takes some chances and shines with an awesome art style, its own map is its downfall. Forcing you to slog back and forth repeatedly starts to chip away at the whole experience about half way through. By the time you’ve completed the main game and unlocked the secondary Hunter Mode, you’ll probably be ready to move on to the next game. The game still can hold its value for shoot ’em up fans looking for something a little different, it just gets held back from the greatness it could have achieved with some adjustments.