The age of dual-stick shooters being console standouts has come and gone several times. Classics like Smash TV gained new attention and modern days efforts like Geometry Wars became standout launch titles. In 2020, the flood of indie games has raised the bar considerably, and an uncomplicated concept is much less likely to draw significant attention. That’s a real shame in the case of Destropolis, an enjoyable high score chase from Igrek Games that would have fit right alongside the XBLA highlights.
Unsurprisingly, the main draw with a game as simple as this is the gameplay. Destropolis isn’t going to blow anyone away with its innovation, and it would struggle to hold someone’s attention in the living room, but it feels right at home as a portable game on Nintendo Switch. Destropolis has the same setup as the classic Crimsonland, where slaying a set number of the endlessly spawning enemies will give players a choice of power-up and ramp up the difficulty. While the weapons are a pretty standard mix of rocket launchers, shotguns, and lasers, the power-ups provide a lot of good variety. Summoning in turrets and airstrikes is always exciting, and the extended bouts of bullet time really capture the chaos of the horde of shakes charging after the player only a few minutes into any run.
The presentation has the same retro-chic as in games like Geometry Wars, but it trades in the colorful neon of that game for the literal blockiness of the PlayStation 1 era. Players control a floating diamond and shoot red shapes that range from small cubes to gigantic towers that spew projectiles. The action goes on alongside a synthwave soundtrack that certainly fits with the images the mind comes up with to fill in the blanks, but the whole thing probably could have used a few more bells and whistles to really pop. The giant Nuke explosions and the physics on the Vortex provide some eye candy, but all the power-ups are over in a flash, leaving players with the same serviceable arcade combat.
As far as controls go, Destropolis chooses to use a fire button and overheating weapons rather than a continuous stream of bullets tied into a stick. Because each of its different weapons fires slightly differently, it does make sense, even if there are few times that players will want to take their hand off the trigger. Aiming is still on the right stick and players also have to hover over a button to pick up weapons they want to utilize. Combine that with an awkward two-weapon limit that seems arbitrary and it’s not hard to see ways to improve things in this department.
At the end of the day, Destropolis comes off as an impressive freeware implementation of a game that will later blow up rather than a release ready for retail. All the pieces are here, there’s a little style differentiating it from the rest, and the game is fun for a few minutes at a time. If the developers take the time to come up with more than one mode, additional out-there weapons and power-ups, and a handful of colorful touches, a follow-up could really be something to see. As for now, Destropolis will serve players looking for a few minutes of distraction on the eShop, but won’t be one people return to over and over once its initial flash subsides.
Destropolis is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC. A Nintendo Switch code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.