Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Duologue Review


I have an idea. With the heavy popularity of dual stick shooters, I believe that the gaming community should invent a drink, preferably a shot, that we call the dual stick shooter. As in, "Hey bartender, give me 2 dual stick shooters for me and my friend o'er here!" (boooo hissss) Now what should we put in it?

I've said it before - but if you're going to enter this genre, you better bring something fresh to the table. It's a genre that's been capitalized on already and competition is heavy. It also has relatively low barrier to entry because graphics don't need to be flashy to be effective (generally true, but more so here than in other genres in my opinion). Thankfully it's also packed full of fans, and Duologue does bring a slight twist.

The "Duo" in Dualogue likely also represents that your tank has two guns. Depending on the particular wave/round you are in, those two guns are essentially just two different colors. The trick here is that you need to alternate between those guns to take down the current wave of enemies. Only the opposing colored gun can harm the enemies - using the same color has zero effect. Have a look at the screenshot below and you'll see what I mean.

This game mechanic works pretty well, because alternating between guns adds an extra level of intensity and concentration. And of course later levels task the player with large groups of enemies that switch colors and/or use opposite colors of minions to guard them. Another cool little touch is that your tank also has a light on the front that will repel some enemies as well, which allows you to repel some enemies while taking down the other color with your gun. I like this concept, but honestly since the light points wherever you're driving, evasion usually takes precedence over shining the light in a constructive manner. I found myself needing to dodge much more than repel, in other words.

Along with dual-color gun approach, I liked some of the enemy design and thought the mini-boss and boss enemies were a fun time - and when multiple bosses were paired in later levels, those fights felt pretty epic. The controls are clean and the overall design allows for skill to triumph over luck or cheap deaths. I loved the option for 4 player co-op as well, but as I've told readers before, I have no friends because I play too many video games. There's also a likable attempt to include achievements, although none of them were too interesting that I really felt like going out of my way to snag them.

And now for the paragraph that makes developers hate me. In exchange for some of the great stuff mentioned above, Dualogue seems to have sacrificed some obvious elements that shmup players tend to expect. No gun power ups? No power ups at all? Whatchu crazy? The only thing to collect here are points. And after several waves, I grew a bit tired of the same background screen, being confined in a small 1-screen space, and being swarmed by enemies who usually are circular (or roundish) and generally either 'pursue' or move around randomly (it seems). So the issue overall here becomes a lack of diversity on several levels. No gun diversity, no level diversity, and high volumes of similar enemies with no break in the grind. The bosses (which are nicelt designed) help mix up some of the slow trotting, but I have to admit that experience some fatigue by the 10th wave or so.

So what's my bottom line on Duologue? Nice game - it looks pretty solid and plays nicely. It also has a couple unique color-based mechanics that are worth checking out if you're a fan of the genre and/or want to blast stuff with some friends. It's not revolutionary, and I'd say it was a misstep not to have some powerups at the very least - but it's still fun and a good value at 240MP. Now who wants to do that shot?

1 comment:

  1. I like Duologue pretty well. The two colors keep things interesting as you try to dogde one color while shooting the other and then switch.