A mighty mini.
Coming up with an original setting for a game must be really difficult for current games developers. Seriously, everything seems to have been done and the result is that, with the rare exception, we get constant rehashes of the same tired themes. World War II, Alien Invasion, Fantasy, Post Apocalyptic – they have all been done to death.
Grip Games have come up with an interesting approach to tackling this problem. Just throw all of the themes into the same game. The result is One Epic Game (that is the title, not the description), a 2D, autorunning, PSP Mini game that derives constant pleasure from laughing at itself and the games industry on the whole.
There have been a fair few of these autorunning “perpetual motion” games recently, with the main character running unaided from left to right and the player responsible for making sure that they jump at the right moment. One Epic Game throws something new into the mix by providing the main character, a muscle-bound action hero by the name of Alpha Dog, with weapons and a number of challenges rather than just reaching the end of the level.
The levels are randomly generated and filled with debris, collapsing platforms and enemies. Using only two buttons, one to jump and one to shoot, the player must keep on moving until they have fulfilled the requirements of the level, be they to move a certain distance without dying, reach a certain speed or complete the level by jumping on a certain number of enemies heads.
As the player hurtles along, they will come across all manner of pick-ups, not all of which should be picked up. Different weapons can be found, such as a machine gun, laser gun, rocket launcher and flame thrower and the player will get to keep their weapon until they finish the level or they lose a life, so it is worth thinking before picking up each weapon that you find as swapping the infinitely handy flame thrower for the slow and short ranged shotgun is not generally a good move.
Other pick-ups include items that speed up or slow down Alpha Dog, which have an affect on the timing of jumps, and the jet-pack which is essential for getting across large areas without platforms. Generally, if a jet-pack is on offer, then you need it and will lose a life if you don’t pick it up.
The story, for what it’s worth, is a hell of a lot of fun. Basically, Alpha Dog must prevent an evil alien from taking over the planet. The cut-scenes between each level will see Alpha Dog getting more and more wound up with the obvious clichés found within the game, whilst poking fun at the games industry. It is true to say that all of the gaming clichés that have been deliberately included in this game will, for some people, just come across as annoying. Others, like myself, will find themselves chuckling away when Alpha Dog begins complaining about the number of games with Zombies in them.
Whilst the game is a lot of fun, it can also be incredibly hard. This is in part due to the randomly generated levels throwing up places where it is just not possible to get past without losing a life, such as putting an obstruction right before a large jump, or enemies exactly where you need to land on a level where you must not kill any enemies. The good thing is that the levels generally change each time you need to retry them, hopefully removing the offending obstacle. The exception to this is the “Back to the Future” level where the player is caught in a time loop and must reach 88 mph. I will not tell you the number of times I had to retry this accursed level – it’s embarrassing.
Once the story is all finished, the player can keep enjoying the game through the free run and challenge modes. Free Run allows the player to pick a level and just keep running, with achievements to be won for certain milestones. The Challenge mode lets the player choose an objective to beat.
One Epic Game is not original. But the fact that the game knows this and actively makes fun of it is actually quite refreshing. The levels can be devilishly hard and frustrating at times, yet they give off the impression that they shouldn’t be and compel the player to keep on playing for fear of being called a loser. It is a quick-hit title that tricks the player into playing for extended periods. But overall, it is a lot of fun. Certainly one of the better PSP Mini games out there.