Indie games have come and gone in waves over the years, with these trends based on whatever the indie darling of the moment might be. We all remember the endless stream of puzzle platformers after Braid hit it big, for instance, and Super Meat Boy spawned countless frustration platformers. One genre that’s been associated with indies for console generations now, though, is the shmup, which we can probably attribute to the Touhou series.
In any case, Super Galaxy Squadron EX is here on Steam to help carry that torch. We’ll call it SGSEX because it’s got SEX in it and my sense of humor is that of a twelve year old so I find that hilarious. This is a remaster of 2015’s Super Galaxy Squadron and actually allows you to play that game as well, but we’ll be talking about EX here.
SGSEX’s gameplay is fairly straightforward shmup fare, perhaps leaning toward Cave’s style, though it does deviate from the norm a bit by giving your ship a lifebar. While this is generally a fairly simple game, I found the bosses a little more difficult than other shmups. I’d guess this is related to the increased tolerance for failure offered by the lifebar, but either way it means that you’re going to need to practice this one to get anywhere. Along with the standard shmup campaign, there’s also a procedurally generated endless mode to add some replayability.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of SGSEX is the sheer number of ships you can choose from while playing. The Super Galaxy Squadron is comprised of fourteen different members, each with their own unique ship design, weapons and super attack. These vary pretty significantly from ship to ship; personal favorites included Gold, who can set delayed-blast lasers to clear out enemies without having to stay in the line of fire, and Amber, who combines a powerful mine attack with a reflect shield. Perhaps the best touch is that it’s possible to switch ships between stages in order to choose the best option for the task at hand or just to shake things up a little.
SGSEX’s presentation is surprisingly nice for a game that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. This is the same sort of colorful shmup I’d have expected to see back in heyday of arcades; everything is colorful and sharp, while bosses are as huge and intimidating as you’d expect. Bullets are easy to pick out against the chaos, so genre vets shouldn’t have too many issues staying alive. Sound and music are standard for the genre, though the comparatively large amount of voice acting is a nice touch.
Shmup fans should have a great time with Super Galaxy Squadron EX. Ten bucks isn’t much to ask for a well-made shooter, after all. The lifebar system allows new players to get the hang of the genre, while vets are going to love the multiple difficulty modes and overall nastiness of the bosses.