To begin with, it's easy to mentally throw Everyday Shooter on top of the ever-growing pile of dual-analogue shooters. The PSN alone already has more than enough with Blast Factor, Super Stardust HD and Nucleus already vying for the title of "best shooty point collector." Everyday Shooter, however, manages to differentiate itself from all the others by introducing new, innovative gameplay mechanics, an incredible score and an intimate, personal experience which is the closest thing I've felt to video games being art.
Gallery: Everyday Shooter
When you first load up the game you would be forgiven for believing that something is wrong. The Queasy Games logo and the main screen are very minimalist and reminiscent of old Atari style graphics. This strange sense of style continues into the game as each level has a completely different appearance - though they all utilize a faux-2D cell shaded style of graphics.
The gameplay is as simple as the graphics. Players of Blast Factor or Super Stardust HD will immediately notice that the firing mechanism feels a little weird. The "ship" you control (which changes shape for each level) seems to feel most comfortable when firing at 90 and 45 degree angles, with anything in-between being difficult to maintain using the analogue stick. This is most likely due to the face buttons being used as a secondary control system for those who want to use them (D-pad moves, triangle shoots up, circle shoots right, etc).
Everyday Shooter is a difficult game to review. Talking about its graphics, sound and gameplay separately would make it clear that I didn't get the point. But I did. Everything in the game is connected together in some sort of synesthetic mess of colour, noise and frantic shooting. Each of the eight levels is a different "track" in the Everyday Shooter album with its own style of sound as well as its own individual art direction. The background music is the base (as opposed to bass) track over which you build the rest of the song by playing the level. Once the base track reaches the end you move onto the next level.
Everything you do has an effect on the song that you are creating by overlaying more wee pieces of music over the base track. Hitting enemies, collecting points, creating combos and even dying cause a subtle change in the song. If you recorded the audio from playing a single level multiple times you'd come up with several very different tunes. This is one of the many great things about the game.
Unlike most dual analogue shooters, Everyday Shooter's point scoring system is subtle and complex. There is no direct correlation between what you shoot and the points you score. Instead, you can only increase your score by picking up points from the field of play. These appear as white squares which move towards you as long as you are in the vicinity. Collecting points allows you to earn extra lives. Enemies will drop them when they die - sometimes - but the best way to make them appear is to create combo chains.
There's a different method of creating combos in each of the levels and it will take you a little while to figure each method out. Once you do, however, you'll begin to feel a greater appreciation for the game and realize how well designed the entire experience is. Every point you collect can then be used in the main menu to unlock extras - these include unlocking each level so that you can play them individually, obtaining extra stylistic effects to the game (such as increased contrast, monochrome and a "sketchy" effect) or even shuffling your unlocked levels around. You can also add extra lives so that you can get that little bit further the next time you play.
Everyday Shooter is completely addictive and, due to its level of challenge, will keep kicking your ass whilst making you ask for more. Some sites have intimated that there are problems with the point collection system as your avatar moves faster than the points that are being attracted to you. This means you have to stay still sometimes and let them catch up with you, but when the points disappear after a little while this makes it hard to collect all the points on the screen. Especially if you've just pulled off a massive combo and the screen is littered with the things.
In reality, this isn't a "problem" - it is a conscious decision made by the developer to make the game more challenging. Sure you might be able to pull off that massive combo, but how many of the hundreds of points can you pick up before they disappear?
Overall, Everyday Shooter is exceedingly enjoyable on a number of levels and is well worth your $10. All of the elements work together wonderfully to contribute to a final product that is artistic, fun and (as is very uncommon nowadays) personal. As the game was made by a single person, there's a strong connection between the developer and the player. Jonathan Mak has taken the opportunity to address the player directly in the "Notes" section of the main menu, where he outlines the history of the game, tells us the controls and gives us some tips. The entire gameplay experience feels like a window into his mind and it's fascinating. PS3 Fanboy can't wait to see what Mak does next.
PS3 Fanboy score: 9.0
Second Opinion: Andrew
Mizuguchi should not only be proud, he should be jealous. Everyday Shooter is ironically everything but what its title suggests. As a synesthetic game, it outdoes its competition by merging music and gameplay in a truly astounding way. We'd love to get the soundtrack to the game -- but would it even be possible? The on-the-fly rendering of music for each stage is what makes the title so engaging: each player's approach to a stage produces very different results to each song's overall tone. The cautious player and the headstrong player will produce music that corresponds to their actions. Fascinating.
But beyond the presentation, Everyday Shooter offers an unparalleled amount of depth for a downloadable title. There are eight tracks to play through, and each is unique, not only in terms of visuals and music, but in terms of gameplay. As Jem mentioned, not only will players have to figure out new chaining mechanics for each stage, they will have to learn all the subtleties of a level. For example, did you know that if you shoot explosions in the first stage, they will live for longer, and grow? In the third stage, you can lightly shoot cells to make them grow, increasing the radius of their explosion. There are many things to discover in each stage, making each level a different game altogether (at least, for shooter connoisseurs).
Add a points collection system that holds a bevy of collectibles, and you have a game with infinitely more replay value than even Super Stardust HD. So then, maybe the title is correct. It's the kind of shooter you'll be able to play every day, thanks to its unparalleled amount of content and replayability.