Every Extend Extra Extreme

….which is possibly my favourite game title of all time, but I digress. Every Extend Extra Extreme (or E4 as I’ll now call it) on the Sexbox 360 is good and bad.

My favourite game mode is the default, time limited mode. You’re given 3 minutes to get as high a score as possible. You get scores by blowing yourself up (and no, it’s not a Taliban simulator). Wait for the enemies to get as close to you as possible, blow up, and watch the explosions spread out along each enemy. For every other enemy caught in the blast, they blow up, which can spread to another enemy – you’re aiming to chain as many enemy explosions together as possible, and all from your initial self-detonation.

On top of this, you only get a few seconds to maneuver your craft into position before your shield drops, and you then become susceptible to death – you can be shot by the enemies, you can collide with them, and neither option gives you points. When you “die” like this, your bonuses all revert back to square one, and you have less game time to get back to where you were before. And on top of the brief window of having your shield, certain enemies drop pickups when they die, and the pickups do things like make the enemies faster, give you bonus points, increase the length of your shield, or extend your game time. And on top of that, you get extra bonus points if you detonate your craft on the beat of the backing music.

What this adds up to is the following gameplay – start, pick up as many bonus pickups as you can before your shield runs out, get into the best possible spot to detonate yourself from before the shield runs out, and then detonate yourself on the beat of the backing music before the shield runs out. You usually have about 3 seconds to do all that.

Ah, but when you’ve done it, and done it right, it is glorious. Your explosion takes out the nearest enemies. They, in turn, explode, and take out the enemies next to them. Then they explode, and their explosions engulf the next set, and before you know it the screen is going mental with a billion enemies all blowing up at once. When you get enough deaths, the explosions turn into fireworks, the background starts going all trippy, and you get tons of effects all being thrown at your eyes. It’s very more-ish.

Up to a point. The problem with the game arrives when you’ve been hoarding the “time extend” pickups. Each game starts with 3 minutes on the clock. As your chain of explosions goes on, your game time ticks down. After a certain amount of time, you can stop your chain from continuing and respawn, which allows you to get the “time extend” pickups, which add more time to your clock. If you want to play it safe, you can just keep getting as many of these as you can, and keep cutting your chain as short as you can. So you can end up with 3 minutes on the clock after playing it for half an hour. Or an hour. Or two. And all you have to do every minute is move the stick and press a button within 3 seconds.

The mental graphics are there to entice you to leave your chains going on for longer – what happens when you string together 1,000 chains? What about 2,000? You like shiny, keep the chain going and see more shiny! But shiny drags you ever closer to game over. But you like shiny! But you’ve been playing non-stop for an hour and you’re still no nearer to running out of time, cos you’ve been getting a billion “time extends”.

Which is possibly an awesome statement about why you bother playing games anyway. You keep playing to see new things, to continue the experience, but you have to keep doing the same things to see the new things. You don’t get bored of the new things, you get bored of the actions. Play it long enough, and you get bored of the new things too. All that is left is a high score which you can easily beat by continuing to play. Games are ultimately pointless, and that’s the point.

Anyway, I’ll take the wank hat off now. I’ve not even mentioned that the game also supports local music – rip a CD to the Sexbox hard drive, and you can import your own tunes into the game. It even supports playlists; you can make a massive playlist of your fave tunes and the game will adapt to each one as it plays on. And there’s three additional game modes which I can’t remember. And multiplayer.

Overall, it’s a brilliant game that is addictive enough to make you play it for hours on one life. Even though it does get tedious, it throws enough new graphics at you to keep playing. Your mileage may vary on this, but for simple stupid me, I can’t stop playing until the high score is beaten. And then I have to beat the next one I set. And the next.

It may also make you think about why you play games in the first place.

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