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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Every Extend Extra
(Buena Vista Games/Q? Entertainment for Sony PSP)

Coming from the famed developers of Lumines, Every Extend Extra is a simple and challenging arcade game that delivers classic style thrills enveloped with stylish graphics propelled by a driving techno beat. Your objective is to create massive chain reactions, destroy bosses and earn points and extends to keep the game going. Look inside and find out why this great little game that will keep you addicted and entranced for many hours.

Mixing elements of puzzles and shooters, along with strategy games, Every Extend Extra is a unique and challenging title that mixes several genres into an innovative and challenging title. It's brilliance isn't immediately apparent, but once you get into EEE, it gets a lot more interesting. The first few times you play Every Extend Extra, you're probably bound to be at least a little bit confused by what's going on in the screen. There's so much happening, its not surprising to feel at least a little bit overwhelmed at first. However, once you get the hang of things, EEE is a surprisingly simple and enjoyable game that provides an addictive, challenging gameplay experience. EEE's basic objective is to steer your craft through a space until you reach a group of enemy objects, which can take a variety of forms. When they approach, you can detonate an explosion, which creates a blast radius where nearby objects also explode. Doing this creates multi-hit chain reaction combos that earn you extra points. Mastering the timing and strategy of these chains is the key difference between victory and an early exit. Pushing the detonation button too soon means you'll miss a potentially larger combo, while you can wait to long and watch the enemies go out of range. You can charge or move the center of gravity of your detonations using the L/R shift buttons, but the basic strategy behind the timing isn't affected.

The more objects that are detonated in a single shot, the larger the explosion and subsequent burst of color. Creating these long strings of explosions also adds to your multiplier, with the added benefit of clearing the screen of potential obstacles. Destroying multiple enemy formations isn't the hardest thing to do, but you need to time your detonations to create the maximum effect, since you have a limited number of ships to use, which are called stocks. The enemies cluster together in geometric formations, which usually make it easier to defeat them, but there are some dangerous ones that act as mines, so you have to be on the lookout in order to avoid their attacks. There are also mini-bosses which appear from time to time on the screen, and disposing of these increases your score and usually causes more appealing power-ups to appear. Several types of enemies release specific types of power-ups when destroyed, so you have to know which ones to look out for when they appear on screen.

After you destroy a group of these objects, they release bonus items which can include points, extra time, quicken bonus items and more. You need to collect these power-ups by moving over them on the screen but you need to be careful not to collide with an opponent while you're doing this. Players can also use special attacks to charge up their ship and release the explosion when enemies are right on top of them. There are many different ways to lose the game, so you have to be careful to avoid the enemies. Any contact with them not only loses one of your craft, but inflicts a five second penalty on the player, which can make a huge difference. Each time you detonate your ship, you lose one of your stock, when this reaches zero, the game ends. You are also under a strict time limit that makes you complete the level in the allotted time, which adds to the challenge. Once you are done completing the initial waves of enemies, you face off against a massive boss creature, which takes a required number multi-hit combos to defeat. Again, you have a limited number of craft and time to complete these battles, so you have hurry.

When you have defeated all the waves and the boss character of each level, you move onto the next, which usually means a completely different look and feel, along with new music tracks to drive you forward. Players can choose either the standard arcade version of the game, which includes more levels and different skins, or play the original game which is simpler but lacks the replay value of the main game. Its single player mode is quite engaging and fun, but the real joy of Every Extend comes in its multiplayer modes, including head-to-head wireless play which is where the game really shines. Here, the gameplay becomes more and more intense as you and a friend battle it out in multiple screens and waves. As you progress through the game's levels, you'll find that there are many skins and colors to unlock, and the game's characters also change shape. This can be confusing at first, but once you begin to recognize the different types of enemies by color, you'll have a much easier time with EEE's later stages.

Every Extend Extra is a unique title in many regards but, those who played Lumines or its sequel will find many similarities between the two games in terms of presentation and design. Both games emphasize simple play mechanics that require a great deal of skill and reflexes to complete. They are both throwbacks to the simpler styles of gaming that were more prevalent in previous decades. The graphics mix simple 8-bit style icons with psychedelic backdrops and bursts of color to create a brilliant looking title that leaps off the screen. Every Extend Extra's stylish presentation, with different skins available at the end of each level lends a decidedly cool and sophisticated approach to the action/puzzle genre. The design mixes high-techno and low-res polygons to create a game that is simultaneously retro and futuristic. This makes for an aesthetically pleasing game that's fun to look at and listen to, while very much in the vein of Lumines, it seems to have a slightly more chaotic feel. There's definitely a parallel rhythm between the action on screen and the music, which makes the game flow together into a coherent feel. Once you understand the rules and mechanics of Every Extend Extra, you'll find a relatively straightforward and entertaining puzzle game that offers challenging levels, engaging design and a great deal of freedom. While the game might sound a little simple on the surface, it effectively melds shooting and puzzle elements to create a memorable title. The challenging play, appealing visuals, hip design and intuitive feel makes EEE one of the more interesting casual titles on the PSP.

Grade: B

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