Indie Quickie: Point Perfect

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? A procedurally generated point, click, and drag shmup tripped out on 8-bit chiptune acid.

Who made it and where can you get it? Point Perfect is available on Desura and Steam for $4.99 from Highcastle Studios and Plug In Digital.

How much did we play? In an hour and a half, I finished nine games, defeated 8 bosses (four different ones), and died more than 100 times. My highest score so far is a mediocre 451.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements or other details you should know about? As a cursor-driven game, Xbox 360 controllers and other gamepads are not supported, so you will need a mouse. And a fairly modern mouse as well since some of the challenges utilize the scroll wheel as an input. I’ll also suggest playing the game in full screen view. When playing in windowed view, it can be easy to accidentally scroll the mouse too far and end up outside of the windowed area, causing the cursor to get stuck on the edge of the screen until you scroll back into the active area. That’s never fun.

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Why should you play it?

    You’ve played plenty of side-scrolling shoot ’em ups before, but none quite like Point Perfect. The idea is the same: enemies swarm the screen, you dodge and dart a little ship through the barrage of projectiles without getting hit while simultaneously returning fire to build a high score, and eventually you square off against some truly insane bosses. Except in this game the ship is a pointer-shaped cursor, and your weapon against aliens and flying saucers isn’t a typical point-and-shoot blaster. As enemies and other dangerous objects approach, they are only destroyed if you can point, click, and drag a selection box around them — just like you would select a group of files or folders on a PC desktop. It may sound easy, but I assure you it is not. Dragging a selection window around moving targets drifting across the screen from all sides, without nudging the cursor into death, is way trickier than it might seem, especially given the limited size of the selection box. I’m not kidding. This game will kick your ass and make you earn every single point of even a meager high score.

    Adding to the ballet of hand and finger movements are quick-hitting minigames which pop up in between enemy waves to further challenge your mouse-scrolling skills for bonus points. In one mini-game a sequence of small green boxes sporadically appear on the screen for you to quickly tap before the timer ticks down. There’s a game called Spaceball in which a pitcher on the right side of the screen begins tossing baseballs, the objective being to hit three balls in a row by drag-selecting them before they zip by for a strike. Other bonus challenges involve guiding the cursor through a scrolling maze of red lines without hitting a barrier, rescuing astronauts lost in space floating around in a meteor field, and protecting a stranded ship from an onslaught of alien invaders.

    According to the achievements there is a way to beat the game, but I have not figured out what it takes to reach any sort of endgame. Each new game session consists of playing through a sequence of three rounds. A set number of lives is provided for each round, and once lives run out the round ends and the next begins. After the three games, the lowest score is omitted while the two highest scoring rounds are added together to give your final high score. Similar to the awesome twin-stick shmup Big Sky Infinity, maps, bosses and minigames are randomized, but each stage seems to follow the same routine — standard enemy wave, minigame, another wave, and then a boss, rinse and repeat — and each time a boss is defeated the backgrounds and enemy types change, and the difficulty increases. Points are accrued at a constant rate of 1 point per second, plus additional points for shooting enemies, performing combos (get three targets or more in one selection box), succeeding at minigames, defeating bosses, and collecting shooting stars. Additional factors play an important role in a successful run, including power-up drops that increase the cursor’s selection range (crashing causes targeting upgrades to be lost), special items like screen-clearing bombs and a shield that deflects certain bullets, as well as the choice of class at the start of every game to provide perks such as an extra life, increased targeting power, or a higher rate of point gain.

Parting Thoughts: To poach a line from the game’s website, Point Perfect is a “casual game for hardcore gamers.” In other words, it has the quick in-and-out gameplay and addictive replay hook of a casual time-waster, yet the game itself is wicked hard, built to test the mouse reflexes and, more importantly, the patience of even the most experienced PC gamer. But what really makes Point Perfect such a blast is its snarky sense of humor and countless nostalgic references. Upon losing, the game will occasionally “troll” you with a mean-spirited 8-bit cutscene calling you a spaz or depicting you as a pixelated avatar being humiliated on all fours by a dominatrix with a whip. The bosses are pure genius, many calling back to retro classics like Pac-Man and Centipede. Of course, my favorite so far is the epic showdown against the iconic Pong paddle! So, if you’re up for a new breed of carpal tunnel-inducing bullet hell arcade shooter with a dose of WarioWare microgame madness and a side of snark, Point Perfect‘s your game.

Disclosure: A free Steam key for Point Perfect was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!