Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review: Rainbow Wake: the Game


Man, I find out about two top-down pony shooters in a week? I must be dreaming.
DeftFunk's relatively new game is based off of the thestoicmachine's unusual comic Rainbow's Wake. Rainbow Dash has stolen Twilight's horn, and the resulting insanity lends itself perfectly to bullets and explosions. 

Does the game live up to the oddball humor of the comic? Yadda yadda yadda and more, after the break.


While Rainbow Wake lacks the trademark flood of bullets emanating from it's bosses, it still has several elements similar to a bullet hell shooter, and it's tagged for being 'close enough'. It does contain a number of complex attack patterns that the player must exploit in order to beat each boss.

This is as cluttered as the screen gets, besides a couple of Celestia's more linear attacks.

Rainbow Wake: the Game consists of a series of escalating bosses, following the comic's storyline. After overcoming Pinkie Pie's killer robot and Fluttershy's army of wildlife, the player must defeat Rarity's fashionable, yet deadly airship and finally Princess Celestia herself. The game contains some excellent original voice acting, and, true to the comic, it's a little difficult to tell who's really the villain here. While Fluttershy pleads with you throughout your battle to just return the horn and apologize, Rarity seems to relish hurling mines at you and Celestia appears positively tyrannical, screaming "Die!" as she bombards you with high-powered princess lasers.

These two are just screaming because Ponyville's getting cratered. Nothing else is going on here.

Unlike some top-down shooter games, as you weave your way through enemy attacks, you can aim your own fire using the mouse. This gives you the option of moving to the top and sides of the screen to dodge as you attack, giving you an advantage if you move more vertically than you might otherwise be inclined to. From time to time, the errant Derpy Hooves will drop power-ups which allow you to improve your fire or unleash a powerful, stage-wiping sonic rainboom upon your enemy.

A lot of work clearly went into the development of this game. Besides the voice acting, the cutscenes (panels taken from the comic) are cleverly woven into the storyline and animated. Although the game is brief, bosses are detailed and have a wide variety of attacks. Kudos to those who manage to beat Celestia - she's pretty hard.

I could just post screenshots of this all day.

Occasionally, this game seemed rough around the edges. Depending on your personal sense of humor, you might not find the comic's screwball comedy, and therefore the game's cutscenes, very tasteful. The hit boxes of several enemy attacks were a little too large and bulky at times. Some obstacles knock you off course, sending you pinballing frustratingly between them and dealing a disproportionate amount of damage. In a couple of places, such as the pause menu, the graphics seemed neglected.

However, I have to applaud the amount of work put into this game and the way it made me laugh. It's engaging, difficult, and fun to play, which is what counts. Although tricky to quantify,  Rainbow Wake: the Game is a unique experience, and rates a nifty 7/10.