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Vorpal is all boss, all the time

As a consumer of most things arcade-shooter, when I saw Vorpal show up in the Indie store for a dollar, it was a pretty much a no-brainer. And for what it lacks in depth it makes up for with one simple red line.

Pretty patterns all over the place in Vorpal

Pretty patterns all over the place in Vorpal

Short and sweet

Vorpal dispenses with the lengthy levels of the genre to focus instead on lengthy boss battles. There’s some sort of story that sets it up as fighter-vs-fighter, but in the end it’s five levels of (awesome) bullet dodging.

Presentation, music and game play are all really solid, but there is one feature that stands out to me that I haven’t seen before in a shooter. At the bottom of the playing field there is a bar that denotes where the boss enemy is at all time. This feature alone tells me this game was made by gamers more so than any other indie shooter I’ve played.

Any shmup gamer knows that 75% of game play is dodging bullets, especially if you’re flying up in the realm of bullet hell shooters. This style has less to do with strategy, power-ups and story than it does with joystick ability. Your survival depends on your ability to watch and dodge bullets, not killing the enemies, but often this can be somewhat fruitless because you spend so much time on watching your character and dodging that you’re not paying attention to the bad guy you’re trying to kill. Vorpal solves this with the boss bar.

By being at the bottom of the screen, near your character, you can easily track your ship and dodge while knowing where the boss is, saving you eye movement time. It might sound silly, but those that play know the truth, and if you play Vorpal you’ll find out exactly what I mean.

Vorpal is a quick, somewhat bare bones boss battle shooter with a glossy finish – pretty forgetful, frankly, if it weren’t for that little red boss bar. If you’re an shmup fan and need a quick fix, Vorpal is a dollar well spent.

Originally posted on Jan 3, 2011

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