Price: £6.99 Developer: Niinegames Publisher: Niinegames Platform: PC
About a year ago, I attended the Game Masters exhibition while it was housed in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Game Masters charted the entire history of gaming through selected works of its greatest developers, enabling players to get hands-on with these wonderful historical artefacts right there in the exhibition hall. My favourite part of the exhibition was the rows of original arcade machines from the seventies and eighties, and my favourite of those arcade machines was Asteroids.
I've played Asteroids before, of course, mainly via a rudimentary PC emulation during our painfully monotonous IT classes at school. I never thought much of it at the time, frankly the only reason I played it at all was because it wasn't Microsoft Excel. But playing Asteroids on its original arcade machine is an entirely different experience. The dazzling vector display means every blip-like missile from your triangular spacecraft sparkles like a shooting-star, and every shattered asteroid is blindingly bright. Meanwhile, those chunky arcade controls convey the momentum and inertia that is a key challenge of spaceflight in a way that the more modern keyboard and mouse simply cannot achieve.
The reason I relay this anecdote is because while playing Bezier over the last couple of days, the thought that occupied the tiny part of my mind which wasn't taken up with avoiding the game's infinite swarms of enemies was just how fantastic it would look on a vector display. Were it not for the fact that conceptually Bezier is resolutely modern, it could happily sit alongside those rows of arcade greats and I doubt anybody would bat an eye.
The link between Bezier and Asteroids is more than simple coincidence. The game is evidently inspired by the Atari classic, even containing its own white-outlined chunks of space rock that subdivide when shot by the player. Unlike Asteroids, however, blasting Bezier's meteoroids will release a triangular "Firefly", which follows and fights alongside the player. In this and a dozen other ways Bezier elevates Atari's initial concept, transforming that elegantly spartan shoot 'em up into a thrilling kaleidoscope of breathless mayhem.
There is order amid the chaos, however, and a brain behind the seemingly mindless action. Bezier takes place inside a computer at the end of the world. The premise, which is conveyed in brief, robotically intoned snippets that you will likely only half-hear at the beginning of a level, is that what little life that remained on Earth has been digitised and uploaded to a virtual Ark. Here it has continued to evolve into dozens of different forms. But something has gone wrong, and this once peaceful digital culture has been transformed into a chaotic tyranny. You, playing as a character known as the "Principle", are trying to escape this refuge-turned-prison, and the only way to do this is, naturally, to blast every living thing in sight.