Day 23: Galax-E-Mail

Posted: 2010/12/02 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #23, and today’s game is “Galax-E-Mail”.

You want to talk about your fanciful premises, Galax-E-Mail posits a universe where emails are sent through wormholes from the sender to the receiver, and brave starship pilots have to shepherd each email to safety between them. Whether the premise rubs your charm factor the right way or not, the gameplay has a lot going for it.

There are a lot of things that set this game apart for me. In Galax-E-Mail you not only have to pick up and deliver email, but (perhaps in a nod to Crazy Taxi) you have to find the path through to the destination wormhole guided by an ever-present arrow. However, there is a maze element to that pathfinding, as what appears to be the most direct route could be a dead-end, forcing you to double-back and figure out the correct path, all the while being attacked from all sides. I also really liked how the game set the skill level by asking you after successful completion of a level whether the skill level was too easy, too hard, or just about right, something I would like to see other games experiment with (if you’ve never played a game before, how the heck are you supposed to know what skill level to set it at?).

Galax-E-Mail also has several unique elements introduced in the power-up system, everything from extra ships that fly around you and help you on both defence and offence to power-ups that look like a question mark and introduce unpredictable results (such as reversing your controls). Your fighter also has the ability to morph between three forms, with variable amounts of speed and power with each one (more power = less speed, and vice versa).

The core gameplay element is that of a twin-stick shooter, but this can’t be mistaken for Geometry Wars or I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1, due to the pathfinding/maze elements, the Crazy Taxi-esque pickup and delivery elements, the “extra ships” element that reminds me of Galaga, the ship transformation element that harkens back to the Mmrnmhrm X-Form from the classic computer (and Sega Genesis) game Star Control, and a great variety amongst the power-ups.


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