Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kill Everything That Moves

While it's currently unimpressive, I have high hopes for K.E.T.M.* - if it isn't completely abandoned. It's a shmup in the classic twitch style, or aims to be, and it's playable in this early incarnation but from screen shots on the website, it's going to be much prettier.

One thing it's not, in the current incarnation, is twitchy. It's kinda slow, actually. It's very smooth - there's no lag, the framerates are fine, and the controls are responsive - but it's not exactly fast-paced. Your ship moves like a fat man in molasses. Hopefully, they'll fix that, as it tends to make the game feel easy. It might not actually be easy - I didn't beat all of the levels - but it just feels like if I wanted to devote the time, it would only take patience to finish it.

The graphics remind me of DOS games towards the end of when they were viable. Not the top-notch ones, mind you, but the decent shareware ones. See the screenshot? Yeah. That's what it looks like. It's decent enough but low-res. I'm not sure if I was getting it as good as it got: I couldn't get fullscreen to work. It was turned on in the options menu, but that didn't have any effect. All of the other options as far as graphics go were set to their highest setting, but if the option menu isn't actually implemented then I'm not sure what meaning that has.

There's no sound. I mention it because sound was turned on in the option menu, and because many shmups have memorable soundtracks. Would have been nice to at least get a zap sound or something when I shot stuff.

There's a decent amount of variability in the weapons. Flame-throwers, homing missiles, bizarre lasers, a basic gun... they look decent, but don't seem to affect the play much because you just keep shooting and killing stuff with not much effort, regardless of what your weapon is. Maneuvering is basically useless, on account of your ship's slow speed, so that's probably a good thing.

K.E.T.M. is basically fatally flawed for fans of shmups, but it's a decent tech demo. The website that seems to be the official page for the project has a screenshot or two of what must be a much later build, but it also has no links to download any version at all. Unfortunately, it also has a blog, last updated early in 2006, revealing that the lead programmer decided to change the engine and recode the game in Python. I'm guessing that this was an overly-ambitious decision that lead to the project being abandoned, but they're still paying for the domain name, anyway, so maybe not. Here's to hoping: this could be decent.

*I can't actually tell if this is the website for this game or a website for a game with the same name, of the same genre. Looking around, it seems like they acknowledge some sort of debt to the game I reviewed in the article, if nothing else, but they have no playable release and their version looks a lot better. No idea on this one, guys.

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