Dragons vs Spaceships

I should preface this review with an acknowledgement that I’m not huge into vertical space shooters.  I have nothing against them, and on occasion I’ve been known to get into them for short periods of time.  But, while I try to remain open to games of every genre, I admit that shmups are the genre you’re least likely to see me playing.

Are we clear about that?  Good.  Now onto the review.

Oh my God, I fucking hated Dragons vs Spaceships.  I kind of figured I wouldn’t encounter games with this level of staleness on the XBLIG service.  Hah.  Shows what I know.

Dragons vs Spaceships is pretty much your garden variety shoot ’em up.  The screen scrolls vertically while waves of enemies descend upon you.  Like the 1987 arcade classic Dragon Spirit, the gimmick here is that your ship is actually a dragon.  Okay, so it’s not totally original.  I suppose at this point I should just be thankful that it’s not a zombie.

Regardless of what it actually is, the gameplay is all that matters.  Here, it’s a clunky mess.  The controls are stiff and not responsive.  The enemies move too fast and your ship-dragon-thingie moves too slow.  Oh, and the enemies are mostly of the bullet-sponge variety.  Given how slowly your dragon shoots, if you have anything but the highest grade of weapon, you might as well not bother to shoot at all.   Then again, sometimes when an item is on the screen, if you don’t pick it up at that very nanosecond, an enemy will swoop down and take the item away.  Dragons vs Spaceships does so many things wrong it almost makes me wonder if the game is intentionally horrible.

I usually make an honest effort to finish games here, but that wasn’t doable in this case.  I admit that I’m not the most skilled of shooter players.  Still, when a game asks me if I want to continue when I game over, I sort of expect the ability to continue.  I made it to the second stage twice.  Here, it takes only one death and you are pretty much toast.  Why?  Because your bullets are slow and useless against this stage’s enemies, yet it’s impossible to pick up any upgrades because as soon as they appear they get stolen.  So I game overed, and was asked if I wanted to continue.  I selected yes.  And then I was sent back to level one.

No, for real.  It asks you if you want to continue and then ignores you.  It’s as if the game is saying “Continue?  Why you silly little bitch.  This is a game engineered around being as unfriendly, poorly designed, and unentertaining as possible.  Now go back to level one and love it you whore.”  I’m not sure what that was about, but it wasn’t like it was the first thing in the game that I had managed to break.  I was twice able to make the first boss fail to spawn.  The music for it would cue up, but because I’m a shooty type of person, I held the fire button down.  The boss would peak its head out, one of my bullets would lightly graze it, and it would disappear, never to be seen again.  The music kept playing and I kept flying down an endless hallway, but there was no boss.  There’s also no way to restart the game without actually exiting the game and going back to the dashboard.  So I was stuck.  Forever.  What a well made game.

No, I’m not this game’s target demographic.  I didn’t grow up in an era where games like Gradius or R-Type would eat my ass for lunch and then skip out on the check.  But, I still know the difference between a good game and a bad game.  Dragons vs Spaceships is an absolutely horrible video game.  It’s often broken and glitchy.  Ignoring the boss that failed to RSVP, there were a few times where I was flying on an empty screen with no bullet or enemies and my dragon just up and died anyway.  After a while, I came to expect something to fail with the engine.  And you know what?  It was actually more entertaining waiting for something to glitch out than actually playing the game.  What’s here isn’t fun in the slightest way.  Bland weapons, useless secondary “power” weapons, boring enemy design, uninspired attack patterns, and just so much generic nothingness.  This might be one of the worst games I’ve played on the marketplace.  You can’t just mix mediocrity with dragons and expect the product to improve by default.  They already tried it with Dennis Quaid and the results speak for themselves.

Dragons vs Spaceships was developed by Game Production Studios

240 Microsoft Points spent twenty minutes last night arguing with their boyfriend over whether or not Reign of Fire is an entertaining movie or not (it’s not) in the making of this review. 

And no, I didn’t play this co-op.  Proceed to whine that I didn’t play it right in the comments section.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

15 Responses to Dragons vs Spaceships

  1. It really is a shoddy game, and a bad example of a vertical shooter. If this had been the game where I thought “hey, let’s see what all this vertical shooter malarkey” is all about, I’d have walked away feeling the genre was an overrated heap of crap.

    It just feels like it was never tested at all. Considering how rare it is to actually be able to kill ONE ENEMY in any group, I refuse to accept the developer ever played it for even a minute. I’m sure it’s a well-intentioned effort at heart, but it’s just such a shoddy, sloppy, half-arsed mess that I don’t know how the dev can ever hope to look their hypothetical children in the eye.

    Not the worst XBLIG I’ve played, but perhaps the most futile. When the very first enemies in vertical wave shooter can soak up five seconds of concentrated fire EACH, something is badly wrong.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      It’s rare when I get agreement from MasterBlud of Vintage Video Games TV, but even he said the game was awful and deserved what I said about it.

      And, like you, I question how much it’s own developers played it. I have sincere doubts that it was played much by them. Surely at some point one of them would have noticed how damn bad it was, or how much nothing works.

  2. Reminds me of Vampire Rage. Meh.

    • Vampire Rage is functional. Whether you enjoy it or not (I do, though I don’t love it), it at least does what it’s meant to. Dragons vs Spaceships, on the other hand, just doesn’t work.

  3. inlinevoid says:

    “Now go back to level one and love it you whore.” Ahaha I lol’d.

  4. Craig says:

    Gonna title my game overs “Continue? Why you silly little bitch. This is a game engineered around being as unfriendly, poorly designed, and unentertaining as possible. Now go back to level one and love it you whore.” from now on. 😀

    I HATE bullet sponge shmups! They demonstrate that not only the developer chose to make s shmup because they can’t make anything else, they can’t take notes from GOOD shmups to make their games even remotely playable. This game reminded me of Joint Strike Future, where even using the right weapons caused you to die because the enemies had like 1000 HP and your firing rate was 1 bullet every 650 ms.

  5. Starglider says:

    This game was an Indie Games Summer Uprising submission. Good thing it wasn’t selected, because if it is still glitchy and unpolished now, I hate to think what state it would have been in if released three months ago.

  6. Tim Roast says:

    Maybe now is the time to set up a all-time worst 10 games list too.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      I’ve had that requested before. I’m not really up to that kind of thing. Despite having no problem calling it like I see it, I’m not really out to destroy anyone’s games. I think to have a list designed around the worst games I’ve played would be a bully type of thing. I have no problem with referencing games I’ve hated in other articles, and I’ve certainly ran Raventhorne into the ground enough here.

      But to outright make a list of the worst stuff? Nah, that’s a dick move. Despite what some people believe, I’m not here looking for bad stuff. I’m looking for good stuff.

  7. Shame… the Trailer was pretty damn polished, thought it looked like a good ride..

  8. Pingback: Let Us Talk Pricing, Shall We? « Indie Gamer Chick

  9. Starglider says:

    Huh, just saw Perkunas’ Dragon on Youtube, also a vertical shooter based on dragons, but with some ‘RPG elements’. Would be interesting to compare this game with that one. Maybe you could consider doing ‘head to head’ joint reviews of similar games in the future?

  10. yes says:

    I wanted to like this game so much. I sort of hope it gets a serious overhaul on its game mechanics and gets a second chance at a good review, but the developer has moved on to other projects from what I’ve heard. Shame.

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