Defender splashed arcades with neon pixelation, depicting a desperate, almost hypnotic rescue of mankind against voracious aliens. Invaders shattered upon impact, their pieces strewn wide in a shower of firework glory.
Built from Defender’s nostalgic rivets is Resogun, a horizontal, back-and-forth manic shooter which pays the utmost respect to designer Eugene Jarvis’ innovations. Housemarque, known for their splendid PlayStation 3 digital gem Super Stardust HD, crafts Resogun on the basis of saving combos as often as saving bouncy humans.
This is a zippy pressure scenario built from destructively pleasing voxels — pixels in cube form. Sentient machines swivel around spherical, dimly Gothic cities. Marauding robots exist to kill and smash humanity, and fall apart when shot in a glorious showcase of modern processing power. Resogun is a twitch shooter built on the genuine splendor of particle effects, Defender for a generation who may never know of Williams’ upright cabinet icon.
Pure shooters never stop moving; it’s what makes them work. Resogun does not pause for a reprieve, and should skill overcome waves, voxels are waiting to be skimmed across ground level. Motion is celebrated as images are consistently frantic and kinetic. Brilliant design layering creates a need to unlock trapped civilians. Temporarily glowing robots hold keys and spawn randomly, bulking Resogun’s ingrained intensity beyond laser blasting or bullet dodging. Scoring urges make it impractical to sit and wait for enemy charges, turning the title wholly offensively minded in nature.
Resogun’s strengths include rich tactile feedback. Explosions are bombastic for those with powered subwoofers, throbbing to the beat of intense missiles and shimmering lasers. Bosses require an extension of the vertical playfield to fit, generating an engine hum of tremendous force to accentuate the growth. Resogun is minuscule and yet built on a barrier of raw, brutal, pulsating sound with digitally symphonic snippets paying homage to Housemarque’s prior work.
Housemarque never brushes with failure nor attempts to merge PlayStation 4 functionality beyond its integrated CPU guts. With fewer elements to consider, there is room to perfect what is included. That would appear to be Resogun’s splashy design path, ignoring touch pad use to spread coding horsepower onto two analog sticks and some triggers. Each swerve and turn brings about spectacular levels of controlled chaos, flooding maps with impossible numbers of gratifying, living, pixels. Ship selection (of three choices) and stage choice (of five) determine play styles while bonding with online co-op.
Levels end with Armageddon. Why wouldn’t they? Opposing bosses grandiosely erupt and elevate every screen element in a flurry of particle effects so genuinely enthralling as to captivate any technically minded passer by. These cities are lost, an against the grain ideal in an era where players are often coddled to victory. Resogun is hardened to failure: Earth will perish, and these few humans are all that remain. Perspective is shared with Missile Command or yes, even Defender. In their infancy, videogames were about a fear of loss whether that loss was a quarter or digitized civilization.
Resogun brings those ideas to modern form. While bosses can be defeated and scores will rise, their destruction is sacrificial. The bedlam left in the wake of their demise is a gorgeous send off, reason enough to fight even if it means these worlds are no more. Games need to force us into failure more often. Sometimes, it’s beautifully cruel.
Resogun is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.