E3 07: Everyday Shooter Preview

"I just wanted to go back to my roots and make a really fun, simple game," said Queasy Games' one-man development team, Jonathan Mak. After Mak's synesthetic musical masterpiece Everyday Shooter won the Independent Games Festival awards for Design Innovation and Excellence in Audio, Sony swooped in to publish the indie developer's title as a downloadable game on the PlayStation Network. I sat down with Mak at Sony's E3 digs for a hands on with the avant-garde art shooter.

Inspired by the musical interlacement in games like Rez and Lumines from Tetsuya Mizuguchi as well as PARSEC47 from Kenta Cho, Everyday Shooter adds a freightload of flair to the now commonplace dual-joystick shooter formula. The combination of stunningly stylized visuals and musical melodies based on in-game performance brought me to a trance-like state of audio-visual euphoria.

Everyday Shooter is organized like a music album, with each of the eight stages featuring a different guitar-only riff-heavy background track, all composed by Mak. A bar at the bottom of the screen shows the player's progression in any given level, so stages have discrete beginnings and endings based on the length of the tracks. Shooting different baddies produces different sounds, integrating players into the musical experience of each stage, and collecting the dots left behind by fallen foes provides players with their only source of points.

Though I only played two of the levels, each had entirely distinct enemies and equally unique aesthetics. The gameplay is similar to Mizuguchi's Every Extend Extra in that chain reactions are the key to high scores, but the way you achieve said reactions changes in every level. The first level had a disco ball-like background which pulsed to the rhythm of Mak's guitar as I fired on enemies of various geometry. Some foes had life bars, which appeared once I opened fire on them. Destroying certain enemies created flashing pulses that started a chain of pleasing riffage and destruction, nearly clearing the screen in some cases, with just dots left behind for me to collect. A second level featured a large, blinking eye-like creature in the middle of the level, with smaller eyeball shaped enemies surrounding it.

Even more amazing is that Mak hand-coded the entire game with C++ without the aid of any tools or other developers--though you don't need to know this to appreciate the game's beautiful simplicity, which gamers will see for themselves later this summer when Everyday Shooter becomes available for download on the PlayStation Network.