Harkening back to the glorious days of the classic shoot-em up, Saturnine Games’ Cosmos X2 is a noteworthy take on the genre.
Earth has successfully developed and built two Cosmos class of long-range spacecraft, granting the ability to travel throughout the entirety of the solar system for the very first time. However, on launch day things go awry as the first ship Cosmos X1 disappears from sensors altogether shortly after it passed a nearby asteroid colony.
The player, in the shoes of Ensign Daverdy, boards its counterpart, the Cosmos X2, and is sent to investigate its last known location, arriving to find himself in the midst of an alien invasion and in control of humanity’s only weapon against it.
Thankfully, you have a unique weaponry system at your disposal that’ll aid you in your defence of the planet. The dual alignment weapon system provides the ability for the Cosmos X2 to freely switch between two entirely contrasting weapon and shield combinations on the fly.
There are three alignments, of which you must select two, to choose from within the game; Power, granting the most powerful shots at the cost of firing speed, coupled with a shield that surrounds the ship with explosions that negate all enemy shots within the nearby vicinity and cause damage to their ships; Attraction, which provides fast, homing shots that deal less damage than the other alignments and a shield that draws in enemy shots that are absorbed to refill your health meter; and Repulsion, offering a triple shot spread with a shield that reflects all enemy shots back at their source.
Each has its own separate health meter, and the player is able to recharge whichever alignment is inactive by defeating oncoming enemies. It becomes an imperative necessity for survival, then, that players keep a watchful eye as once lost in entirety the alignment will be beyond repair.
Experimentation with these to find which set-up suits you best is a particular joy, players soon able to respond to incoming enemy types with whichever alignment will allow them to tackle the threat best.
However, there’s criticism to place within Cosmos X2’s core design. Veteran players will find the game’s speed and pace particularly slow, and, even on the lowest difficulty setting, progression will soon see enemies require a frustratingly large quantity of well-placed shots to neutralise. Genre classics prioritised fast-paced fluidity and quick enemy dispatch to provide the player with an exhilarating rush of an experience, yet Cosmos X2 feels regrettably dated in such regard.
Regularly falling foul of a cluttered screen, full of enemy shots and drifting asteroids, your playthrough can immediately shift from becoming more of an annoyance than a welcome challenge. Bomb power-ups that you collect could’ve done with a blast radius to aid with this, only damaging the enemy that they come directly in contact with.
That said, a younger audience, unaware of the genre’s rich heritage to compare it to, could find this a suitable entry point and an enjoyable game to play on the go.
Despite the aforementioned issues, Cosmos X2’s 200 Nintendo DSi Point cost is a generous one, and you’ll find it hard to see the service offer up such an inventive side-scrolling shooter.
Version Tested: Nintendo DS
Review copy provided by Saturnine Games