Saturday, 1 March 2014

Golden Scarab (Ouya)

Did I just get high on meth and LSD? Nope, but I did play Golden Scarab, a healthier alternative to psychoactive hard drugs, but perhaps just as adept at screwing with one's brain. It's a colorful dish best enjoyed tapas style - little bites sure to satisfy one's need for quick, intense single or multiplayer shooting mayhem. I want some of whatever Andrew Perry at OMGWTFGAMES had when he came up with this game.

At its core, the gameplay of Golden Scarab is quite simple. Left stick moves your craft, right stick shoots in the direction you point it in. There are six unique and brightly-plumed alien baddies to destroy, each with varying attacks. Some move slowly, others rush at the player, some fire and others don't. The player can collect small power-ups that increase the score multiplier - if he or she can last long enough.

Lest you be misled into thinking this is yet another simple dual stick throwaway title, dear reader, fear not. No boring monochromatic backgrounds here; Golden Scarab is all about swirling, pulsating psychedelic splashes of neon and OTT explosions. Furthermore, the play area boundaries are not outlined, and only marked by random flashes, much like a bolt of lightning, creating a strong sense of disorientation and confusion. Many times I found myself stopped by an invisible barrier, flailing about in the presence of my inevitable death.

I suppose the actual experience of playing Golden Scarab is difficult to describe; it creates a sense of futility, confusion, befuddlement, and urgency that I have yet to see in any other game. It's also a high intensity experience - I'm guessing most gamers won't play this for more than a few minutes at a time, else risk their brain shutting down in protest against the audio-visual onslaught. Of course, I have yet to last more than a minute.

So, give Golden Scarab a try. It's probably the closest you'll get to an illegal visual high without the cost (or the need to traipse about in dark alleys after hours).

Download the Ouya version here (from Total Ouya).
4.5 out of 5

Second Opinion

Golden Scarab gets a straight five/five from me - at the moment it's probably my most played game on Ouya. The combination of timeless arcade game design mixed with neon blooms and speaker-destroying glitch-hop makes it feel like a more intense modern reinterpretation of Bagfull of Wrong's indie classic War Twat/Daddy/Bus, and that's a good thing. However, when played with a friend the experience elevates to the plateau of total perfection, thanks to it's ace 'tag team' style respawn feature. When one player dies, if the other can remain alive alone for a few seconds the previously-expired player warps back into the arena - and like Peter has already pointed out, staying alive for a few seconds is often harder than it sounds.

This neat little feature really works and makes the game feel truly co-operative, with each player rooting for the other to hold out against the alien scum so that they can re-enter the cosmic battleground. But that's not to say there's no competition involved; at the end of each match one of you will be awarded the 'best player' accolade, complete with cute little glowy hearts.

Golden Scarab is incredibly well put together for a free Ouya game, with online (and local) highscore tables and amazing presentation. Having the game running in the RGCD office is a surefire way to ensure that no work gets done, as time and time again I find myself drawn back for another five-minute blast. It's just awesome.

J. Monkman