I’ll admit, I’ve always been a big fan of classic arcade shooters. I don’t know why, maybe it was because of the sheer adrenaline rush that was obtained when trying to survive an endless onslaught of aliens. Two classic shooters that come to mind as the most engrossing, the most intense, and the most challenging are Tempest and Gyruss.
They both had the same structure: rotating around in a 360 degree plane (well, almost, Tempest had a couple open-ended courses). Updates to these such classics, including Nanotek Warrior and (the only great Jaguar game) Tempest 2000, carried on the tradition to new extremes, both in graphics and playability. Just recently, Fox Interactive released their version entitled N2O: Nitrous Oxide for the PlayStation, and like the others, it provides that wonderful adrenaline rush with, I hate to use the term, a psychedelic approach.
N2O has the old travel down the tube routine, but instead of aliens, we have bugs: tons of bugs. According to the storyline, an invading force constructed the Torus as an entryway towards Earth. The Torus is composed entirely of Nitrous Oxide, which is used to breed hordes of giant insects. Players ride in a N2O powered Tunnel Runner to destroy these bugs. The only catch is that since the Runner is fueled solely by N2O, and since the bugs are bred by the same gas, speeds can pick up rather quickly, sometimes to the point of losing total control. But while control can be maintained, it is required to exterminate all the bugs in the current Torus before jumping to the next tunnel.
It sounds like a simple concept, but believe me it is very challenging. As the Torus gets more complicated, so do the bugs. They will reproduce, roll up and try to ram you, break up and gang you, even emit force fields to wall you in. And if the bugs don’t get you, the backgrounds will, as they are so colorful and trippy, it can entrance you so much that you can not see that one bug at point blank range. Now I’ll admit, I never experimented with drugs when I was in college, but if I ever did, I’m sure that it would look like the backgrounds on this game.
Sound is also impressive. Not really the actual game sounds or the ambient noise, but rather the soundtrack provided by the Crystal Method. Using tracks from their Vegas album, Fox Interactive converts what is already a good game into a virtual music machine, almost appearing as a video from MTV’s Amp. A very nice touch.
N2O’s a welcome product, a rendition of a classic shooter with the most entrancing graphics and high-tech music I have ever seen. It’s definitely worth a look at 3 Â½ of 5 GiN Gems.