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Spectra Review



Spectra is a retro, arcade-style, solo racer that pits the player against a procedurally generated, floating track. 10 levels, each set to a different track by composer, Chipzel, are all esthetically similar but increase in difficulty.

The developers, Gateway Interactive, designed the game around Chipzel’s tunes. You might remember her work from 2012’s Super Hexagon. Chipzel, AKA Niamh Houston is a London based composer who utilizes a hacked gameboy in her up-beat chiptunes.

There’s not a lot of substance in Spectra. Other than the appropriate 8bit soundtrack, which also gets old after your 4th or 5th trial of any particular track, there’s nothing that sets one trial apart from the previous. The later courses are more difficult.

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The stylish retro graphics, coupled with the game’s sci-fi influence, electrify the neon setting for you to clumsily blaze through. The tangerine hover ship is a stunning spectacle when it’s cruising past translucent polygon obstacles and momentarily drifting off the edges of the track, but it steers more like an old school rear-engine Porsche than a tron-inspired race craft. The player steers the hovering racer left or right to hit speed boosts, avoid obstacles, and pick-up points.

I found Spectra to be tedious yawn-fest despite the procedurally-generated courses. The craft’s poor control turns much of the game into a finger-fumbling farce, and when you do tune the sensitivity just right, and get the hang of the craft’s eagerness to drift like an old “widowmaker” 911, you’re now left to repeatedly cruise down what seems like the same ol’ stretch of digital highway.

I think the obstacles generate on the track according to some compu-wizardry that takes its orders from Chipzel’s songs. Regardless, their placement feels unintuitive and uncomplimentary to the race craft’s movement. Even when you manage to survive on the track for the full 3-and-a-half minutes, there’s not much satisfaction to Spectra’s ultimate climax of a simple achievement screen pop-up.

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Spectra is an arcade game at heart, but it suffers from the same problem as any arcade game that utilizes procedurally-generated levels, which is that the leader board, which should drive competition (if even only with yourself), doesn’t represent a true comparison of anything. Each attempt delivers a unique track, but in such circumstances the competitive value of the leader board is diminished.

Spectra is available on PC and XboxOne with cross-play compatibility for Windows Phone.

Reviewed on PC. Review copy provided by publisher.



My Friend Pedro Review — Absolutely Bananas



My Friend Pedro Review

When logic is thrown out the window and absurdity is embraced, the best video games are created. My Friend Pedro is a shining example of this recipe for success. Some incredible level design and satisfying gameplay make My Friend Pedro an absolute must play for anyone that enjoys fun.

From the moment the player is launched into the madness of this game, the strange expectations hold true. The plot consists of the nameless protagonist going on a killing spree at the request of a sentient banana. Yes. A floating, talking banana named Pedro acts as the player’s guide through the side-scrolling escapades. What is so fascinating about the concept of Pedro, is that he does not feel like weird for weird’s sake. The game has an actual storyline that moves it along toward a bizarre, yet, brilliant ending.

The mechanics in My Friend Pedro encourage absolute mayhem that is a treat to play, thanks to some well designed controls. One of the game’s best features allows the player to slow down time to perform kills or utilise other abilities. Slowing down time creates a breathtaking marriage between elegance and chaos that is both visually satisfying and super cool. The game features a wealth of other abilities and weapons available to the player that create memorable moments, but describing how fun they are just does not do the mechanics justice—they must be experienced. Personal highlights include performing slow-motion flips whilst dual-wielding pistols to take down multiple enemies and kicking a frying pan into the air to ricochet bullets into enemies. Additionally, all mechanics are introduced with enough time to learn and use them, allowing the player time to experiment with different playstyles.

My Friend Pedro is no ordinary side-scroller. Every level is expertly designed and interesting to play. Minor puzzle elements in the form of levers and switches add to the complexity of the levels without ever feeling complicated. Instead, every area is thoughtfully crafted to reiterate that time is everything. The game offers a story mode to progress through the levels. However, these can be accessed and replayed at anytime from the main menu.

At the completion of a level, the player is awarded a score, which creates replayability through humour. One of four letter grade scores can be achieved, the lowest being C followed by B, A, and S. Two of the times I achieved a C grade I was greeted with the words “C is for could do better” and “C is for carrot”. Naturally, players will want to try again. Players also have the option to change the difficulty which will result in a score bonus at the end of a level. A rather sad celebratory sound accompanies the completion screen which just adds to the fun of the overall experience.

Impressively, My Friend Pedro was developed by one man. The slick gameplay and polished design appears as if it were the work of a large, highly experienced team. Surely this game will not be the last players see from DeadToast Entertainment, but it has proven a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

My Friend Pedro is worth every cent and deserves to find an audience. Players are indulged with unique mechanics that are both clever and fun, allowing the creation of violent visual masterpieces. Every element of the game from the art to the story, work together in harmony to create something magical. If players want to sit back and enjoy some senseless fun, then My Friend Pedro is a much needed addition any gaming library.

OnlySP Review Score 5 High Distinction

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Also available on PC.

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