Super Killer Hornet by Flump Studios is a standard arcade shoot-em up with a crazed love affair of math. The title impresses with its affinity for Japanese arcade games and delivers a fun game with some unique characteristics.
Hornet is an arcade game in the same vein as Galaga, and it fits the bill of a shoot-em up almost to a tee. You play as a spaceship that must have angered the wrong queen bee or some fire ants because a ginormous swarm of bugs wants you dead, and the bugs keep on coming. The ship has one weapon trigger, but two forms of weapon fire. When the weapon button is simply pressed, it releases a quick burst of shots, but if the button is held, a constant, blue laser stream is formed. You will need to develop the ability to balance between the two as using a constant stream causes the ship to move much slower and it loses much of its maneuverability. The ability to duck, dip, dive and dodge becomes increasingly necessary as more bugs flood the screen with their fire, so you may need to keep your lead thumb off the weapon button as time progresses and focus on finesse.
With any arcade title like this, you can always expect chains or multipliers, and Hornet is no different. However, the way you get the multiplier is unique – you have to solve a math equation, quite the problem. As the ship continues on its journey, it encounters a three-part equation that it needs to pick up one at a time. First, is a number coupled with a mathematical operation. You then need to pair it with a second number, and finally, the solution to the equation. Collecting the first two sets of the problem are the fairly easy part, as you can miss the numbers without losing the previously stored set. You can easily wait for one to travel past an area you can access without losing a life. The solution tends to be the trickiest, since if you miss the answer, the whole equation disappears and you need to start over. Additionally, if you lose a life your multiplier and your equation are reset. If you successfully, complete an equation, your multiplier goes up – it’s as easy as pi.
Collecting the equation does prove somewhat problematic at times. You will need to weave and veer to avoid the showering array of enemy bullets to collect the pieces and all too often you will have to start an equation over because a line of enemy fire is blocking your way to the correct solution. This game was not meant to be easy though, so you just need to pick yourself up and begin a new journey against the Buggers.
The graphics are fine and done well, but are definitely not the selling point of the game, neither is the music. The game draws some inspiration from Japanese arcade games in its art direction and the Japanese characters in the startup screen help to afford the aesthetic picture. The songs on the other hand have a techno feel and luckily you are presented the option to choose one of several songs to play in the background every time you play a game.
Hornet gives two modes to play, a standard arcade story and a timer induced one. The arcade mode gives you three lives as you attempt to transverse the entire story. The other gives you 140 seconds to rack up as many points as possible, but allows you to have as many lives as you can lose in the allotted time. While both are fun, it would be nice to have a difficulty selection as some people will find the game extremely difficult and others a snooze.
Super Killer Hornet provides a unique spin on the learning/ education in games front, and certainly provides a unique challenge implementing math problems to increase one’s score. The problem with the game likely hides in its difficulty, but the addictive quality certainly drives the desire to better one’s previous score.
Final Rating: 8/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: XBLIG
Time to completion: About 5 minutes per game.
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: A code was provided by Flump Studios
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Why you should buy it: If you love arcade shoot-em ups, and math in your games, or if you want to pretend you are part of Ender’s Jeesh from Ender’s Game.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: If you hate shoot-em ups, or if you failed math in school.