Developer: InJoy Motion Corp. (visit their website)
Publisher: InJoy Motion Corp.
Type: Light-gun/tank driving shooter
Cabinet Configurations/Players: Dual player sit-down Deluxe Motion cabinet; Single player motion cabinet; upright two player cabinet
Hardware: PC based
ARCADE EXCLUSIVE?: Yes
Rating: ? Probably Yellow for Animated Violence Mild. The game also has some occasional profanity (four letter s and h words)
Synopsis: From the InJoy Motion Product Catalog.
After depleting Mother Earth’s resource, Mankind has developed a new energy source called “X-Pher”. However, it was taken away by an alien species, forcing an epic battle between Humans VS Aliens.
REVIEW: By Adam “Arcadehero” Pratt
In Project X-Pher you control a special rover/tank vehicle that traverses a post-apocalyptic landscape fighting off hordes of mutant bugs and aliens as you try to retrieve the energy element “X-Pher” which will allow people to somehow live on the surface of the Earth again. The action is similar to what is found with co-op shooting games in the vein of Deadstorm Pirates and Let’s Go Island as a male/female team command the futuristic tank against hordes of creatures which are mostly in the form of bugs.Along that line there is a little story that the game unravels, nothing complex and it doesn’t tell it through cut scenes, just dialogue heard and read as you advance through the game.
The game is a mounted light-gun shooter that uses InJoy’s proprietary mounted force-feedback guns. They are symmetrically held (both hand at an even position on the gun) with a pair of joystick-like grips featuring a trigger and thumb-button. The feedback is more pronounced then typical solenoid guns as the way they work is on a swivel base that has strong and varied functions. The feedback responds appropriately to the type of weapon being used and can shake or kickback forcefully when using something like a single shot cannon.(nothing that kicks back in a way to present any harm to the player, but it is noticeably different from other light-guns on the market). There are also LED tubes which react to the shots which look cool. In the game you have an onscreen reticule and if you combined it with your friend in 2 player mode it becomes an oval with upgraded firepower. There are bonus pick-ups you can grab which can improve your gun with ammunition like rockets. The thumb-buttons allow you to change your weapon, I found three different ones as I played, but there could be more.
The game itself feels a little like a grungier vision of Earth Defense Force 2017. The world is darker and completely abandoned on the surface, minus hordes of alien bugs. Groups crash to the surface in fireballs from the sky, bursting out afterwards into their swarms you have to shoot down. The levels are straight-forward in that regard, the action is on-rails with the camera view changing appropriately to the situation. There are items to pick up during the madness to help you take out the swarms a little faster. The boss battles are standard – shoot the boss anywhere to slowly drain its health, occasional weak spots appear which do a little more damage and there are instances to change it up where you have to move the gun quickly in a certain direction to dodge an attack. The one complaint I would have is that the boss battles are quite long. Possibly I just didn’t go about them the right way forgetting to use my special weapons more often (kind of like InJoy’s Top Gunner that also has long, somewhat difficult boss battles).
Originally there were three different configurations of the game which were shown off, from an upright 42″ cabinet they introduced to the US when they brought this over and the cabinet I played it on, an upright cabinet that was their first design, which used a larger screen and a special base the players stood on to a prototype sit-down single player motion cabinet that uses a yoke controller and foot pedals to a larger dual player sit-down cabinet that has both the yoke/foot pedals and a mounted light-gun with a larger screen. This version has still not been released but it was described as being quite different – the game becomes an off-rails shooter with one player driving and the other player shooting, almost like Namco’s Lucky N’ Wild. InJoy has indicated that they may still release this one later in 2012 so we will have to keep an eye out for it as that would be a way for the game to really stand out.
The post apocalyptic environments feature a drab color palette as expected, which is broken up a little by the colors of the enemies that stand out in contrast. Textures and lighting aren’t completely up to modern standards with filtered textures that look like a 2004 game and bloom lighting effects. At least the enemies have good geometric detail. The environments themselves lack that same level of detail however. There are numerous particle effects which look good . Frame rate is usually 60FPS on 720p monitors
Aside from the constant firing there is some voice acting in the game (accompanied by subtitles) where you have what I mentioned earlier some occasional swear words. Given how clean arcades are these days it’s a little surprising to hear from otherwise cheesy voice acting. The bass level in the game is deep, partially enhanced by the guns. The main theme song wouldn’t be out of place in a dramatic B movie trailer.
While the guns here don’t look like a real world weapon, it’s futuristic design, multi-color LED lighting, ease to control and excellent varied force feedback help the game stand out. No noticeable input lag is present either.
At the moment there is a standard and deluxe using a design that they first used with Top Gunner. Both cabinets feature lighting beyond the marquee and guns, the standard in particular has a few plastic panels with etched designs to stand out against the blue. Artwork covers the control panel on the front. I am looking forward to the sitdown motion versions to see how that will differ exactly but we will have to wait and see.
I did not have the opportunity to complete the game as there are 12 levels and when you play a game at a trade show you have to make way for other people to get a turn. From what I played, its a decent co-op game that could use some tweaking, particularly with the length of the boss fights. The enemy variety is pretty good however, there is quite a bit more to shoot than in the EDF2017 game I mentioned earlier so that keeps the game mixed. The game does keep track of score as well as maximum combos giving it standard scoring features although nothing particularly new on that side of it. Unlike the games it is following, this game never shows you the characters who are speaking, so it does lack that “cinematic” quality to it but that’s something I can live without if the characters aren’t interesting in the first place.
Since Let’s Go Jungle came out, competition for the “buddy shooter” has grown. Project X-Pher is a game that relies more on the hardware than the game itself to make a statement although the game follows standard operating procedure with these kind of games, so if you like Deadstorm Pirates and Let’s Go Jungle/Island then it is right up your alley. If you want something different for your arcade that few others have then it also can fill that purpose being arcade exclusive and not terribly common in most regions as far as I know. I do prefer it to Top Gunner, which is an OK game but not one I’ve really gotten the hang of.
First US appearance at IAAPA 2011 (starting at 3:55 in the video)
GTI Asia Taipei 2011 Expo
Dual player cabinet
Single player cabinet
Direct Screenshots (these were already compressed a bit when they were sent)
Arcade Heroes stories
InJoy Motion reveals two new games – Project X-Pher and Dido Kart 2 (May 2011)