Core Fighter (PC)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Thursday, March 6, 2008

Graphics: 6.00
Sound: 6.00
Gameplay: 6.50
Replays: 7.00
Gamelength: 8.00

Anchorcast Entertainment brings the gaming community an odd genre mashup called “Core Fighter” that doesn’t quite make the cut.

“Core Fighter” reminds me of the original “Gauntlet”, which is odd because this game isn’t even close to the dungeon crawler theme. In fact, “Core Fighter” is a shoot’em up that mixes in elements of other genres that work in theory, but in practice seem a bit clunky. That said, join me as I delve into the somewhat flawed shoot’em up, “Core Fighter”.

As far as visual appeal goes, this game both does a good and terrible job. At first glance, there’s a fair bit of dark 2D style that really invokes feelings of nostalgia and modern arcade games all at once. However, after playing for a few moments, the visuals start to get old and extremely repetitious. Enemies don’t look much different and even upon upgrading your ship, there’s no real cosmetic changes. In short, everything just looks “grey” and there’s not a lot of variation.

If you’re into electronic music, the music of “Core Fighter” might be right up your alley. The only downside about the track list is that there’s not a whole lot of change and every track has a similar sound. It’s all very “dark” and while it fits the game perfectly, it just gets old fast. It kind of reminds me of most “Flash”-based web games, which loop the same track over and over. It doesn’t hurt the game play, but it doesn’t help after you’ve heard it for the 50th time. As for the sound effects, there’s nothing short of generic stuff that sounds like it’s been ripped out of a game from the Super Nintendo era, but sampled at a higher rate.

“Core Fighter” plays a lot like “Gauntlet”, but with a shop of sorts thrown into the mix. The concept and mechanics are both very simple. You pick either a light, medium or heavy type ship, kill stuff, deactivate barriers and eventually find the exit, which takes you to the next stage. You’re able to buy new primary weapons, secondary weapons and ship upgrades at little “shops” located throughout the stages. The weapons range from classic “Spread shot” style weapons to lasers and rockets or mines. The ship upgrades themselves are simple things, such as armor or handling. To purchase things from this “shop, you’ll need energy, which is collected by simply killing enemies. When you die, 5 energy is reduced as a respawn cost. Even if you have 0 energy, you can still respawn and technically there’s no penalty for respawning with anything less than 5 energy. You don’t go into a negative energy count or lose any progress, which makes the game a bit too easy even on the “Veteran” difficulty setting because you can just keep ramming into opponents, respawning and flying right back to the opponents again, which retain all previously caused damage when you respawn. On the other side of things, ammo supply is very limited and costs money to refill in the event your supply is low. This gives the game a sense of strategy, but as easy as the respawn system is to abuse, it almost seems pointless. This game is pretty long and there are some decent ideas here, but the few flaws really ruin the experience, both in terms of difficulty and enjoyment.

Overall, “Core Fighter” is a great effort that requires much improvement, perhaps in the form of a patched update. Provided there’s any sort of update(s) at all in the future, it could turn out pretty good. Even still, I support the smaller and lesser-known developers and I hope they’re listening!

Pros:
-Difficulty choice makes a big difference if you don’t abuse the respawn mechanic.
-Plenty of levels to keep the game going for many hours.
-Cool “shop” mechanic that adds a little depth.
-Somewhat unique genre mashup.

Cons:
-Repetitious music.
-Drab, “grey” visual style gets old fast.
-Easily abused respawn mechanic.
-Controls aren’t as tight as they should be.

Bottom Line:
I recommend downloading the trial version of “Core Fighter” to make your own choice. It’s hard to say who will actually fall in love with this game, but I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone in it’s current state. Wait for a patch or 2 with some serious balance updates.

Overall Rating: 6.50

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