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PSP  header logo

Every Extend Extra

For: PSP

Attack is the best form of defence

Product: Every Extend Extra | Developer: Q Entertainment | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios | Format: PSP | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Japan
 
Every Extend Extra PSP, thumbnail 1
If video games are metaphors then Every Extend Extra is suicide bombing expressed as an abstract puzzle game set in outer space. The mechanic is exactly shared: you must detonate yourself at the optimum moment in order to cause as much destruction as possible by triggering a daisy chain of explosions.

Where the concepts happily separate is that in this, the PSP's most hyper-colourful, super-sexy, sonically pulsating title since Q-Entertainment's earlier superlative puzzle effort, Lumines, you are instantly reborn to continue your pursuit of perfect destruction.

Of course, Every Extend Extra is more graceful and pretty, too. Each detonation triggers sprays of light beams and dissipating clouds of luminous colour, and video game mechanics of high scores and chains play a key role in success here.

By detonating your ship at the most advantageous moment in each of the game's nine levels, you cause any nearby enemy ships to explode in turn. Any other targets subsequently caught in those blasts similarly combust, thus continuing the chain as a sequence of rainbow dominos outplays.

Different types of enemies grant different bonuses: green ships drop point bonuses, medium-sized mini-bosses bless time extensions (each level has a fairly strict time in which to destroy all of its enemies), while pulse bombs help extend combination strings.

You're not free to just blow yourself up to your heart's content, though. The game limits your number of lives, forcing you to carefully spend each in a considered and planned manner. Destroyed enemies earn you points that aggregate to represent more than just an abstract high line on the pissoir wall. Rather, their collection earns new ships – the repetition of which is paramount to success: if your ship count is depleted it's game over. So you must keep your stock of ships well supplied by carefully choosing the moment to lose a life in the quest to gain a new one.

If that sounds terribly complicated to all but the most enlightened of Buddhist readers then rest assured, these complexities are easily learned in practice – even if their mastery is a more slippery acquisition.

Levels are divided up traditionally enough, with waves of smaller enemies before a final boss encounter. Bosses require you to hit them with set numbers of chain combos in order to inflict damage. This can be tricky when there are only a few enemies on screen and you need to trigger a twelve hit combo on the boss to make headway.

To help with this situation certain enemies drop pink pick-ups. These speed up the entire game – quickening the music, the enemies and speed of their bullets. While in a sense this makes the game harder (you have to dodge with keener reactions) it also means that new enemies appear on screen quicker, which can, ironically, be exactly what you need in a tricky end of level boss encounter.

Levels are cloaked in Lumines style skins – in each one the background and appearance of both your ship and those of the enemies is completely (and often unsettlingly) varied. Also similar to Lumines is the way in which the game places great emphasis on music. Even moving the analogue nub contributes synth sweeps to the soundtrack, with the staccato stabs accompanying explosions and the tempo accelerating pink pick-ups building the soundscape to a feverish gallop. However, crash into an enemy and the carnival grinds to a stuttering halt, requiring you to build up your score, speed and the soundtrack from a sedentary plod again.

The risk/reward mechanic beating at the heart of the game is beautifully executed and is such a good idea that you'll find yourself replaying time after time in order to inch forward your progression. And that progression is generally measured in the smallest of units as, after the first two stages, some careful practice and concentration will be required for success.

That said, with the quick-fire continues and fast-paced levels this is the near perfect burst-play style handheld game. And, while occasionally frustrating, the blame always lies with your own incompetence rather than any unfairness or imbalance in the gameplay. Crucially, where such meanness in other games might have you popping the UMD out in frustration, here you'll find that you always want to iron out your incompetence with just one more extra extended go.

Every Extend Extra is currently out in Japan and North America. The UK version is expected February 9th 2007.
 
Every Extend Extra
Reviewer photo
Simon Parkin | 14 November 2006
Effortlessly stylish, engagingly simple but deep and beguiling, this is handheld twitch gaming concentrate
 
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