One Epic Game Review—One Really Fun Game
Grip Games first appeared on the Minis scene with the rather unassuming and slightly misnamed title, 5-in-1 Arcade Hits, which was actually more a collection of traditional games than arcade ones. They followed this up with a couple of ports of iOS games (the very accurately named Blimp and MiniSquadron) but now are back with an original title of their own creation, One Epic Game.
At first glance, One Epic Game looks like a run-and-gun or horizontal shooting game like Metal Slug, or perhaps a sidescroller in the vein of the original Duke Nukem. While it’s true that shooting is involved, it’s really a game about running. So among Minis, it’s probably most similar to I Must Run!, or perhaps a horizontal version of Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess.
Your character, a blond muscular guy with spiky blond hair that reminds me of that guy from those Energizer commercials in the ’80s, constantly runs to the right of the screen. You must jump from platform to platform and over obstacles as you run, all the while having to cope with the enemies on the screen (some on the ground, a few in the air). You can shoot them, land on them, or simply just avoid them. This actually varies from level to level. And that is what really makes One Epic Game so epic—the variety of goals in the game.
Sometimes the goal of finishing a level is simply running a set amount of distance. But other times, you are asked to kill so many enemies. Or perhaps running a distance without killing any enemies. The latter is harder than it sounds, as when you land on them, they die. The trickiest are the speed challenges—your guy gradually runs faster, and you need to get him up to a certain speed.
Adding to the variety is the way levels work. As near as I can tell, with one exception (Story Level 4), the course of each level is generated randomly, or perhaps procedurally. Certain parts of the course seem to be the same, but they come in a different order each time you play. This really keeps things fresh. I must have restarted some levels close to fifty times, but it didn’t get old or too frustrating, because it was always a somewhat different experience; I wasn’t playing the same thing over and over, like with the adventures of a certain cephalopod character.
The game features three modes: Story, Free Run, and Challenges. When you beat a level in Story Mode, you open up that level in Free Run, which is just that level with no real goal, other than to get as high a score as possible. Challenges are also tied to the Story line; they are based around the goals each Story level has but take place on the other levels (in terms of setting). They also come in three different medal types, the first and easiest of which to achieve is the goal you had to beat in Story Mode.
Although it doesn’t really matter much, there is also a number of different weapons you can use. You start with a pistol, but you can acquire the standard assortment you find in pretty much any human-based shooter—machine gun, rocket launcher, shotgun, etc. Since you are running quite rapidly and your enemies always only take one shot to kill, it just doesn’t matter too much in most situations.
The only real exception is the shotgun. Once you pick it up, you are pretty much doomed to die (or at least lose a bit of health), because it has a very limited range in front of you and fires very slowly. Unless you shoot just right, you will run into the enemy instead of blasting it. The other ones are all far better, especially the ones where you can continuously fire by holding down the firing button, but you can get by just fine with the pistol you start with.
The controls are extremely simple as well. There are only two of them—jump and shoot. Basically, everything on the left side of the PSP (or controller) is jump, and everything on the right side is shoot. How long you hold down the jump button determines how high you jump, and there are no double jumps in the air. In certain spots, you pick up a jet pack, which is controlled by simply holding down the jump button for thrust.
While I wouldn’t go as far as saying One Epic Game is easy, it is a forgiving game. In most cases, your spiky blond hero can take several hits before you have to start over, although a fall is always fatal. Each stage also has a checkpoint after running 1000 meters, so you can retry from there, rather than starting completely from scratch. This makes some of the harder challenges quite easy.
You earn in-game medals for the challenges, but they don’t do anything; they’re just checkmarks. It also keeps track of high scores for each level in Free Run, but there is no name entry. Grip Games also seem to have dropped support for their system of online high scores by the game generating a code and the user entering it on their website. Admittedly, it wasn’t heavily used, but it was a neat feature, so sorry to see it go.
Graphically, it looks great. It’s bright and colorful, and there are several layers to the scrolling of the graphics. Each weapon has its own animations. The sound is perhaps a bit weak. Almost literally, as I found the volume to be somewhat low, but with the volume turned way up, the music sounds quite nice, with the sound effects not really being noticeable one way or the other. From the way the character looks, I was expecting an occasional “Oi!”, but alas, he stays quiet.
One Epic Game is really one fun game and easily could have been named that. And besides it being fun, they’ve backed it up with a huge variety of gameplay modes, so while there are only 5 levels in terms of graphics, it feels like a lot more. In all honesty, when you have to play a game over and over for a week, you can get sick of them, because Minis tend to be simple games and it just gets repetitive. But not this. I’m still having a lot of fun with it.
The only thing I really found lacking is something that applies to a lot of games: the lack of being able to change the difficulty. As it is, it’s not a hard game, but it would be nice to let those that wish for a challenge do something like disable the checkpoint feature. Or for people who find it hard, halve the distance for the checkpoint to 500m. Unlockables that actually do something like new costumes or even characters (like the purple-haired girl from their first game) would also be neat, but probably I’m getting too greedy. As is, it’s a great game.