Llamasoft developer Jeff Minter is somewhat of a videogame legend, responsible for such classics like Llamatron, Revenge of the Mutant Camels and Gridrunner.
Released in 2007 on XBOX Live Arcade, Space Giraffe is his new and divisive game. It looks like a psychedelic shoot 'em up, and appearing after the retro fireworks of Geometry Wars, the initial tendency is to play in a retro way - as in don't die, and shoot everything.
However, playing that way doesn't get you high scores in Space Giraffe. Instead of shooting enemies as soon as possible, you have to balance shooting enough of them to keep the 'power bar' above zero, and allowing others to reach your line of attack, where you can push them off the playing field for huge multiplier bonuses. It sounds odd, and it is, but there's an extensive tutorial which really helps. A tutorial in a shoot 'em up!
Accompanying the unusual gameplay, Space Giraffe features fantastic sound effects and some of the prettiest visuals you'll have seen in any game. The graphics are sometimes distracting, and can make the action difficult to follow, but that is part of the challenge. The sound really helps, as every movement and object in the game has its own memorable effect.
This demo features the tutorial and 9 further levels, which will give you a good idea of whether you want to buy the game or not. The most unusual aspect of this action game is that it requires you to grasp the concept of how to succeed, as it's not intuitive. If you 'get it', there's a surprisingly deep shoot 'em up experience here.
Space Giraffe is a beautiful, deep and frantic challenge from a gaming legend.