In the vain of the classic arcade game Robotron 2084 and the more recent Geometry Wars, Tachyon Project is a twin stick shooter that’s been our on other systems for a while but it’s now finally made its way to the Nintendo Wii U.
As you’d expect, the left stick controls your movement direction while the right stick decides your shooting direction. In this regard it’s seems pretty par for course, but Tachyon Project has it’s own little tricks up its sleeve to set it apart from the crowd.
One of the most interesting aspects of the game is that your health is based on time. You begin a level with a certain amount of time that counts down. Taking a hit from an enemy takes a chunk of seconds away and if the timer reaches zero then you fail. To contest against your ever decreasing time, destroying an enemy will grant you an extra few milliseconds which doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re taking out hordes of enemies it soon adds up to a maximum of 99 seconds. Personally I really enjoyed the ever increasing/decreasing of health, a system that made the tenseness of each level a rollercoaster ride.
Surprisingly, there’s a story mode in Tachyon Project. You are a computer program named Ada who’s been designed to hack into secure systems over the internet. After her two creators are taken away by a mysterious organisation, Ada takes to the net, searching for clues as to what happened to them. There are intermittent cut-scenes that tell the story through mostly static drawings. The very little animation does make it a little difficult to keep interested in it, especially when it keeps on the same drawing for a while, but aside from that it’s a nice surprise in a genre you wouldn’t really expect it.
The story mode involves 10 levels, each with six waves. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s enough. Each wave has a different mission to accomplish which I really like. These can vary between destroying a certain amount of enemies, destroying one particular kind of enemy or surviving for a short amount of time. They’re not exactly inventive goals but they definitely make the game feel fresher than it would have otherwise. It’ll probably take you less than a couple of hours to complete the main story so it doesn’t outstay its welcome.
As you progress through the story mode you have a lot of options to curate your craft. There are 5 slots you can customise. The first one is your primary weapon. You begin with just a standard weapon but can change it to other things like a machine gun, shotgun, missiles and so on. Two other slots are taken up by your two secondary weapons which are mapped to the shoulder buttons respectively. You start off with an explosion which wipes out most enemies in your vicinity. You can switch this to proximity mines, a freeze bomb, a sentry turret amongst others. The final two slots are taken up by perks, the first of which is extra health, although these can be changed to make your ship faster, have more powerful shots, the ability to push back enemies and so on. While it’s really cool there are so many options for you to combine, I actually found very few of them to be useful. I tried almost everything I unlocked and yet I still had to venture back to: Machine gun, Explosions, Explosion, Health and Stronger Bullets. Not very adventurous, but probably the best combination I could find.
There are seemingly endless kinds of enemies in the game, something that’s a real positive aspect. Every enemy is distinctly designed so that you can quickly learn each of their different characteristics. The large amount that you’ll come across means the stages don’t really get boring at any point because you’ll always be facing something new. There are even a few boss battles, while not particularly exciting or challenging, they keep the gameplay fresh.
If I’m going to be honest, there are only two flaws in the game that actually bother me. The first flaw is that the environments are quite boring. The arenas you face the enemies in are always just the same rectangular space, while the background and colours may change, it’s still a shame they didn’t try something new for each level. The arenas could have been different shapes, had some obstacle in the middle, anything just to change it up a little and stop it feeling boring.
The second flaw is also the biggest one. In each wave of each level it seems that enemies have a set spawn point that never wavers to circumstance. The problem comes when (very often) your ship is located on a spawning place and you unfortunately take unwarranted damage from a group of enemies joining the fray. Taking damage from spawning enemies happens constantly and it’s really quite annoying as there’s nothing you can do about it. It only occasionally resulted in me failing a stage so it’s not game breaking by any means, but it’s something that just shouldn’t happen. A solution should have been to have enemies unable to spawn within a certain radius of your ship.
Outside of the main story mode there’s a New Game Plus and some challenge modes. These challenge modes all stem from a basic endless challenge mode but have some sort of twist, like in one of them you’re not allowed to use bombs. It’s these challenge modes where you score attack fiends will feel right at home, and the sheer variety of them is great gesture.
Once you complete the main story you can actually start playing the challenges in a two-player mode whereby each player controls their own ship. It’s a nice addition for people who want to play together.
Visually it’s quite adequate, nothing special, as I said before the environments could have done with something different but the art style does its job for the most part. The music is also pretty decent, something I wouldn’t have expected. It’s all original techno music that has a lot of variety in it that doesn’t get repetitive.
One last point I want to mention, which while not important for me, could be crucial for some of you. I may be missing something, but I could not get the sound to come through the gamepad rendering off-screen play useless, or at least highly crippled. It may just be a bug that needs to be patched out, I don’t know, but take it on board those whose wives are TV hogs.
Overall, Tachyon Project is a surprisingly good twin-stick shooter. I think it’s got plenty to offer for fans of the genre with its health/time gimmick, an interesting story, lots of customisation, mission types and enemy variety. It’s got a lot going for it. Yes, the battle arena may be a little boring and taking damage from enemies as they spawn are obvious flaws, but they’re not enough to stop me from recommending it.
– Variety of missions and challenges
– Story mode
– Customisation options
– Enemy Variety
– Taking damage from spawning enemies
– Boring environments