The latest title from Grip Games, developers of the critically acclaimed Blimp: the Flying Adventures and MiniSquadron, is very much an action-orientated affair. The fourth Minis title from the developer, Grip Games have obviously learned their way around both a PlayStation 3 controller and a PlayStation Portable (PSP) console, as One Epic Game is an impressive clash of 16-bit inspired art, arcade style gameplay and a modern approach to content distribution.
The premise of One Epic Game is fairly simple: a run-and-gun shooting game in which the player is under perpetual motion. Similar to Contra in the screen always plans, though the player has not direct control over their avatar’s movement aside from jumping (or the use of a movement power-up, such as a jetpack). In addition to propelling themselves into the air, the player can shoot. And that’s all the control the player has on the game, jumping and shooting. But that’s all the player needs, as just with those two commands things can get fairly hectic pretty quickly.
Though the first few levels seem to run along at a snail’s pace, it’s not at all long until things start becoming a lot more challenging. Players have to jump over gaps in the road, spikes and enemy fire, whilst shooting or landing on enemies and avoiding friendly units (such as cows, of course). The challenge comes on the form of reacting to what’s happening on-screen at a moment’s notice: recognising the next obstacle and responding in plenty of time, or at the right time. Aside from the visual depiction of the challenges, One Epic Game has more in common with Dragon’s Lair than a Metal Slug game. What’s more, the levels are randomly generated for the most part, meaning that you may never be able to learn a complete sequence.
The core Story Mode is a knowingly humours affair, constantly referencing other videogames and hobbyist in-jokes In addition to the core gameplay mode are two further options: the Free Run mode, which lets you play through any previously unlocked level, and the Challenge mode. Challenge mode offers seven distinct revisions of the One Epic Game ruleset, from simple score runs to the more complicated affairs, such as only being able to jump on enemies to kill them and only being allowed to kill specifically marked enemies.
The aesthetic design of One Epic Game is wholly commendable: an inspired 2D romp through videogame clichés in the same good taste as that excused by the storyline in an intentionally feeble manner. Zombies, aliens, dragons and military units are all depicted with an almost Cartoon Network style child-like naivety, and the bright colour palette and bombastic soundtrack belie the simplistic nature of the action.
As a Minis title, One Epic Game is developed perfectly for the ‘one quick go’ ethos when playing on a bus or train, or waiting in line, or pretty much anywhere else that offers the opportunity to grab a few moments of peace. It’s simple to learn and is not a game you’ll forget if you don’t play for a week, and with the high score challenge of Free Run mode there’ll always be a reason to return. It may not be a groundbreaking piece of work, but One Epic Game is nothing but fun, and sometimes that’s all that matters.