Sunday, August 16, 2015


Developer: Gateway Interactive
Publisher: Mastertronic
Steam: Spectra

I like endless runner games. Back when I was still learning about making videos, I got to feature Race the Sun. A fantastic racing game that was ridiculously hard but always kept things fresh. It had a level editor, power ups, and most of all, fantastic level design. I have watched some videos on Audiosurf and I understand the genre more or less. However, you cannot make a game completely around one soundtrack. Especially seeing how this game is exactly the same thing over and over. Not only from a gameplay stand point but from visuals to the level design.

Spectra is a score attack endless speed runner. In the game you play a small red and yellow car and must zoom around collecting gold squares that rack up your points. The objective is simple, don't get knocked off, collect as many gold bricks without hitting stuff and occasionally there is a speed booster. That's it. It never strays from that formula. Never adds any other aspect or feature. Your controls are left and right, no other buttons required. The only challenge in the game is it continuously throws these purple trapezoids in your way to lower your score. You can smash em and move along though. It just slows you down and removes some points. If you asked me, what was the difference between level 1 and level 8, I can tell you there isn't any whatsoever. All the levels are exactly the same thing, over and over.

Perhaps more advanced paths? Nope, more trapezoids! Maybe vertical loops? Nope. Well, each level at least is a different scheme and color right? Nope! The levels all have the same color and design. The same neon blue color scheme from level 1 all the way to level 10. The only difference is the music, which a chiptunes composer named Chipzel did. We will get to that in a bit. There are some things that the game does try to give you, the player, some sort of replay value. They added achievements and a mobile friendly 3 star achievement system. I can't forget to mention after passing all the levels you unlock hardcore mode. I gleefully turned this mode on with expectations of something different. More trapezoids. Are you kidding me?

It's funny that the game says "insert coin" at the beginning of the game, because this belongs in a 1980's arcade. If that is what they were aiming for, they nailed it. This game is just simply repetitive. I got tired after the first level, and saying "woo!! this is podracing!" repeatedly. Eventually you begin to recognize the same loops and lanes, as the levels are randomly generated, but obviously only have a few variant designs. I didn't care if I got a high score or not because there are no leaderboards, you're not even competing with anything other than yourself. The only reward for completing a level is another level.

Now I cannot say that I am a huge fan of or really ever heard of Chipzel. Music is something that speaks differently to people and to be honest my musical tastes have never aligned with many others. That being said, the soundtrack was a hit and miss with me, like the #@$! trapezoids. Keep in mind though, that is just a personal preference. The music is all 8bit electronic style music. From what I've read it was all made on a Gameboy style music system. If you like chip tune music, you are going to like the soundtrack. There are minor issues in the game when it comes to music though. Repeating the soundtrack if you die, fading it when you inevitably hit a trapezoid. This can be jarring on the ears and annoying at times, if you are trying to enjoy the music. You can purchase the soundtrack separately thankfully and I would recommend this if you enjoy the music.

Other areas of the game are lacking as well, replay value is limited, there is no in-game options menu, no multiplayer, and controls feel sloppy. The game does have controller support but this doesn't feel tight either.  The game does feature 1080p resolution and the sound effects are spot on, to its credit. The point is other games have done this and done it better. At $7.49, I find this a tad bit overpriced, since I did not find much reason to play it over again. The soundtrack is offered separately at the exact same price as the game. So unless you REALLY love endless runner games and REALLY love Chipzel. You may want to find another game.

  • Chiptunes music
  • Controller support
  • Sound effects
  • Achievements
  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Repetitive themes/level design
  • No leaderboards
  • Trapezoids

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