If this was 1985, Sixty Second Shooter Prime would be draining quarters from players' pockets all over the world. Thankfully, in 2014, you only have to pay for it once.
After debuting as a browser game and then moving to PlayStation Mobile/Vita as Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe, the latest mutation of Happion Labs' abstract twin-stick shoot-em-up wound up on the Xbox One last week. SSSP is the kind of video game that I love, one takes a template from games past, filters it through idiosyncratic evolutions and mines possibilities available in the present day.
The main hook of SSS is that it only gives a minute of game time, urging players to plunge headlong through as many levels as they can in that allotted time. Each level harbors a crop of power-ups like missiles, bombs, invincibility shields and slo-mo triggers called Precision Timing. There's also a portal that sends you another level deeper into chaos, with stronger and more varied enemies for you to kill. It's a bunch of simple design ideas cleverly layered all over each other.
The strongest impression I got was that Sixty Second Shooter Prime Feels to me like someone else out there played and loved Every Extend Extra as much as I did.
Explosions of enemies create bigger and bigger detonation chains, especially helpful since some enemies can only be killed by explosions. Destroying more than 50 enemies starts a slow-motion chain reaction where all enemies start blowing up like strings of firecrackers. All those particles also obscure the screen a bit, making it so that your own success makes things harder.
Like EvExEx, Everyday Shooter and other shmup variants, Sixty Second Shooter Prime gradually invokes a fleeting, trance-like oneness with the game. One minute, I've topped off at a high score of 139,536; the next, I've broken through to a new one of 578,282. Four hours later, I ends things off at 2,486,766. How did I get there? Not through conscious thought, that's for sure.
That fugue of twitching/reacting/eyeblink-quick-strategising survival that I got lost in while playing Sixty Second Shooter Prime is a heady thing. It's the kind of game where death isn't all that bad at all, dying a whole lot is just a part of learning how to play better.