Zip! Ping! Pyoom! These are all noises I feel should accompany Velocity.
Futurlabs PlayStation Mini game Velocity is one of those rare Mini titles that actually seems good value for money. It is also a rather sneaky game as it keeps evolving as the player progresses, managing to offer more and more gameplay twists without ever becoming overwhelming or cluttered for the gamer.
Velocity is a vertically scrolling shooter which at first glance looks like a tribute to the arcade games of years gone past. The visual style is decidedly retro, enough to raise pangs of nostalgia for long summer spent feeding coins into arcade machines. The soundtrack matches this retro style perfectly and even the gameplay begins with a familiar feel.
Controlling a small spaceship, known as the Quarp Jet, the player must make their way up the ever-moving screen whilst trying to save the occasional survivor. Before long, the player will be confronted by an alien force, which fortunately, more often than not, fly around the screen in formation. These aliens can be destroyed using the ships weapons, which can be upgraded and added to as the game progresses. So far, so retro.
But the levels are not wide-open vistas for the player to nimbly dodge enemy projectiles in. Instead, they gradually become more and more complex mazes of indestructible walls and security fields. This is where the gameplay changes up and teleportation becomes a necessity.
By pressing the square button, a targeting reticule appears on the screen and by moving the reticule and releasing the button, the player will instantly find their ship disappearing and reappearing at that point. By using this mechanic the player can, at its most basic, zip past walls that would otherwise block the progress and cause death. However, things get more interesting when using this mechanic to defeat enemies by materialising in the middle of their formations. It’s a great mechanic that totally mixes up the gameplay.
But things don’t stop there. Some levels are set up as speed rounds in which the player must reach the end in a given time. By holding the R button, things speed up and the player will find themselves having to zip very quickly from one open area to another if they want to finish in time, all the while trying to save survivors and avoid alien ships. The player will also unlock bombs which can be targetted in different directions to destroy stashed away turrets or activate switches.
But it is these switches which necessitate the yet another surprise in a game already filled with gameplay features. Further into the game, players will be able to drop beacons to which they can return in a longer form of teleportation. This allows the player to take alternate routes through the level, which will become essential as the player uncovers switches which need to be activated in a certain sequence.
FuturLab have managed to pack in more than 50 levels to work through and a collection of challenge levels to unlock. Players are awarded medals depending on how well they do in a level, which encourages the player to keep trying to achieve a higher score and better medal.
What starts as a simple scrolling shooter quickly becomes a mind-melting shooter/puzzle game as the player tries desperately to negotiate the maze-like levels without being confronted by dead-ends. Add in the lust for more impressive medals and the twitch-gameplay of the speed rounds and you are left with a game that begs to be played over and over again. Undoubtedly one the best games on the Mini platform, Velocity is now available for £3.99 on PSN. Pick it up!