Critical Wave Review

Have you ever been sitting there in geometry class, bored, wishing you could use an array of weaponry to destroy every shape on the chalkboard? If so, Critical Wave has you covered. Like Meteor Blitz, this game wallops you with wave after wave of heat-seeking enemies in a way that would be overwhelming, if not for the flawless controls built in to help you take them on.

The developers must think normal difficulty is for losers, because an easy and a hard mode are all you get, and they are aptly named. If you’re like us, after a few stabs at easy mode you’ll dispense with the pleasantries and dive into hard mode without looking back. Your death is assured no matter which difficulty you choose, because this is a high-score game, and the point is to rack up as many points as you can before being blown to bits.

Your chance has come to get revenge on all those useless shapes.

As in other high-score games, the enemies become more frequent and more murderous the longer you stay alive. You’ll fight squares and diamonds, triangles and spheres, and bosses composed of shapes we didn’t even know existed. But don’t let the simple shapes fool you into thinking this game looks rushed or visually uninteresting. The graphics are sharp and wonderfully animated. Everything seems to slide effortlessly across the playing field, like an air hockey table topped with homicidal cutouts. The music and sound effects are top-notch too.

But the most impressive thing about the game is the silky-smooth controls. Like in Meteor Blitz, your ship reacts to every microscopic movement of your thumbs, meaning that no matter how many enemies surround you, you have full control and are ultimately responsible for your fate.

Outnumbered but not outgunned.

But controls alone won’t fend off the baddies. To do that, you’re equipped with a gun, a laser, and some special weapons that have metered recharge times. As you play, an upgrade gauge slowly fills up, allowing you to beef up your weapons. We found the default gun to be most useful by far, so we usually pumped all of our upgrades into that. We wish the laser and special weapons were a little more balanced so that upgrading them would be equally useful.

Also problematic is the heads-up display, or HUD. At all times your score, health, number of lives, the weapon you’re using, and your leaderboard ranking are onscreen. Throw in a couple of sticks for your thumbs, and you’re not left with a whole lot of screen space for the game. And since dense hordes of enemies come at you from all directions, you’ll want the largest viewing area you can get.

But we can’t complain too much. From the pumping techno music to the frantic trigger-happy shooting, Critical Wave is a dual-stick shooter done right. So next time you’re bored of math and fantasizing about blasting geometric shapes, we encourage you to give Critical Wave a shot.

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