Ah, the 1970s! A glorious decade that I’m entirely unfamiliar with since I didn’t exist back then. I assume it was pretty great, though; the music certainly suggests it was. If we listen to Laser Disco Defenders, it was a decade that was all about floating around in caves and taking out robots while using as few shots as possible…which still sounds better than most of the 2010s.
When the villainous Lord Monotone decides to take revenge on the galaxy for rejecting his music, it’s up to the titular groovy heroes to stop him! Honestly, we probably could have picked a better group of heroes. While the team has no shortage of funk, they’re also pretty frail and have armed themselves with the single worst possible weapons for the task at hand.
See, the missions in Laser Disco Defenders take place in caves and our heroes have decided to use their signature lasers to get the job done. The problem is that unlike most games, your lasers don’t disappear on contact with a wall; they bounce, and then they hit another wall, and they bounce again. In fact, your shots never actually vanish…and you can hit yourself. Every single time you fire you’re potentially taking out an enemy but you’re absolutely producing yet another hazard to avoid.
In other words, this is one of the stranger twists on the shooter genre that we’ve seen: a shooter where you don’t want to shoot. Running and gunning like mad will flood the level with destruction of your own design and chances are you won’t survive. The ideal way to play the game is to fire a single shot that bounces around and takes out as many foes as possible, since you’ll be getting the job done and ensuring that you haven’t created a giant mess to deal with. You want to avoid taking hits as much as possible, since dying means starting over from the top.
It’s a cute idea and one that helps the game stand out from its many contemporaries. Given the permadeath aspects of the game, it’s in your best interests to play conservatively and learn the little quirks inherent in movement and shooting. You’d also be wise to play around with the various unlockable customization options so you can find a setup that’s both powerful and mobile, allowing you to lay waste to Monotone’s minions without accidentally shooting yourself.
As presentation goes, this is a low-fi game. Animation is fairly minimal, which could be considered a good thing since you’ll probably be trying to focus on a jungle of lasers. The soundtrack, naturally, is about as disco as it comes, though the aesthetic isn’t quite as groovy as you’d expect. You’re floating around in caves blasting robots, for instance, where I’d have expected floating around a dance hall taking shots at jive turkeys.
Still, Laser Disco Defenders is a low-priced game that provides a unique experience, so disco fans could certainly stand to do worse. This game moves to its own groove by offering a different take on the shooter genre – namely by encouraging you to shoot less and move more. Really, isn’t moving more what disco is really all about? Get down tonight!