I’ve spent a lot of time hating Everyday Shooter.
It started as an offshoot of my hatred for the Independent Games Festival; in 2006, knowing very little about the IGF competition and “indie gaming” in general, I submitted Season Stacker, a Gameboy Advance game that I’d poured lots of blood, sweat, tears, and my own money into, and which I felt was a solid — albeit not very original — puzzle game. When the finalists were announced, I discovered that my precious little game was not on the list, and was further mortified to discover that it had been beaten out by games generally falling into two categories: games with budgets large enough that it seemed a sin to call them “indie” (like Darwinia) and games that nobody outside of academia had ever heard of or even seen a single screenshot of (like Braid). I denounced the whole IGF competition as a confederacy of dunces, and ran off to cry into a pillow.
The next year, I watched with distant contempt as the IGF competition awarded three of its prizes to yet another game nobody had ever heard of — a game so pretentious that it was titled “Everyday Shooter”. If I’d have known the song Common People at the time, it surely would’ve run through my head; oh yes, an “everyday shooter” for “everyday people”, written by some trust-fund twat so far removed from the everyday world that he wouldn’t know an “everyday shooter” if it ripple lasered him in the ass. When the trailer was released, it didn’t do much to sway my opinion, spouting pretentious nonsense about God and music with a few short clips that did nothing to explain what the game was actually about or how it played. Eventually I learned that it was some sort of “move with one joystick and shoot with the other” game, and I shouted to the uncaring heavens “What is this?? My puzzle game wasn’t good enough for the IGF, but they shit their pants over a Geometry Wars clone???” Over the following months, a few of my acquaintances with more “indie gaming” cred got to play early builds of the game in elite, invite-only, closed-door sessions, but all they would say afterwards was something about music and synesthesia and how “it’s like an album” and I’d just roll my eyes. Finally, in October of last year, Everyday Shooter was released for the Playstation 3 — the official console of laughable hubrisTM — and I thought that that was just fine; the game nobody’s ever played could be exclusively released on the console that nobody owns, and they could just curl up in a corner and die together. Tycho from Penny Arcade wrote a whole paragraph about getting mesmerized by the fact that the opening menu makes guitar noises, and I figured that would finally be the last I’d ever hear of Everyday Shooter. And then this week it came out on Steam.
I know the early adopters had a lot of problems with it, but Steam’s always been good to me. I thought it was cool when I accidentally bought a DVD copy of HL2:Ep1 without having a DVD drive, and Steam just happily downloaded the game for me instead as soon as I fed it my authentication key. It really won me over after I bought the Orange Box, however, because ever since I did it’s like Steam’s been showing up at my house, unannounced, just to surprise me with wonderful and completely free presents, like additional TF2 maps, and new TF2 achievements, and little gameplay tweaks and additions that I hadn’t even realized I wanted until I had them. On top of that, it’s offered me great deals on games I’ve been meaning to check out, like Trackmania Nations Forever completely for free, and Prey for only five bucks.
So when Steam announced this week that they had the PC release of Everyday Shooter, and for only nine bucks (ten bucks after the 15th), I said “well fine! If I can finally find out what all those pretentious, elitist, closed-door, ironic-$200-boutique-t-shirt-wearing, fixy-bike-riding assholes with their “indie” game festivals and their PS3s think is SOOO terrific, for only nine bucks, then I’ll take it. But I’m sure as hell not gonna like it.”
God fucking dammit. I love Everyday Shooter.
I’ve finally found a game more hypnotic than Rez (albeit not quite as toe-tapping-ly catchy). The gameplay is nice and simple; yes, you DO move with one joystick and shoot with the other. Yes, it IS like an album, every one of the game’s eight levels lasts about three minutes, and is a variation on the game’s core mechanics, much like the songs on an album. In the first level, you shoot Every-Extend-lookin’ things to start Every-Extend-style chain reactions that blow up other enemies. In the second level, you fight stationary enemies whose color determines their attack, and who are related in a clever and visually subtle parent-child relationship such that detroying a parent creates a chain that destroys the children. And best of all, you can use the points you score in the game to buy additional starting lives (among other things) so that even people who are as bad at these kinds of games as I am can beat the game eventually.
So go get it. Right now. I still think that the IGF giving awards to games that nobody’s ever heard of, nobody’s ever played, and nobody even gets to play for over a year after they win the award is the absolute height of elitist, pretentious bullshit and a huge black eye for the video game industry, but now that Everyday Shooter is finally available to us “everyday people”, I’m shocked to discover that I really really like the game itself.
I bet Braid is gonna be terrible, though. 😉 (The wink emoticon suggests that I’m kidding! Or maybe not! Wink!)
In closing, I’d just like to say that I didn’t mean for this post to sound so “new games journalism”-ey. It looks like that’s kind of the way Inverted Castle is headed these days, so if you can stomach it please stick around, but if you can’t then I won’t blame you for leaving. I promise I’ll try to keep things on-topic as much as possible, and won’t go on long reminiscences about having sex with Japanese girls.