First Impressions – Graceful Explosion Machine (Nintendo Switch)

One of the titles our Nintendo Fire team was most excited to check out on the show floor was Graceful Explosion Machine, an indie title (positioned in the Indie MegaBooth) from VertexPop and a team based in our neck of the woods—Ontario, Canada. We loved the colorful but retro look and feel of the visuals, and waited a decent amount of time at the booth to try it out—which is actually a good thing. The more traffic for an indie game, the better!

Graceful Explosion Machine harkens back to Defender, the classic Atari arcade title, but with a strong focus on… well, shooting. And gracefully exploding stuff. We weren’t presented with any particular story, but told to shoot as much as we could and stay alive for as long as possible.

There are four weapons to collect and equip (or at least that’s what was needed in the demo): a sword, sniper beam, missiles, and a blaster, and all have unlimited ammo—but you don’t have unlimited energy. As you might expect, weapons like the missiles and sniper beam require more energy, so your cooldown time is longer.

As a shmup title, you know more or less what to expect—wave after wave of enemies, constant shooting, the switch-up of baddies appearing as you progress through the level, and the requirement to switch your own tactics on the fly to manage the horde. Shooting and moving are constant, and while it wasn’t easy, the early stages of the demo weren’t as challenging as we’d expected.

It didn’t stay that way. The intensity begins to ramp up until you’d be tempted to call it bullet hell, but it almost feels wrong to call something so colorful and vibrant “hell.” The artistry of the levels presents a visual appeal that isn’t usually showcased in these types of games, and even while everything was exploding around my ship, the bright colors of my weapons contrasted beautifully with the shots from my enemies, and as a result the action had a greater clarity than in your usual shmup. It truly did feel like things were… well… exploding gracefully.

Make no mistake, as lovely as it looks, the game becomes unrelenting and challenging after those initial training levels. Players have to learn the best approach with the weapons at their disposal, and there will likely be many screams of frustration heard all across North America once the game is released—but good frustration, because fans of arcade action games will definitely want to give this challenging and colorful title a shot. Pun intended.


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Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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