Squid Yes! Not So Octopus!: Squid Harder

By: Xander

On: May 19th, 2009


Oddbob’s insane arena shooter SYNSO!:SH has been released for the public in beta form, with a more complete version being released sometime during the week with an extra world and a more thematised soundtrack. What’s here though is damn fun, and pretty simple to get to grips with. Simply plug in your controller of choice, or use the typical ‘Arrows + Z Key’ to move and fire as I’m sure you’ve done before. There’s nothing specifically different about SYNSO compared to other arena shooters, but its pretty damn enjoyable all the same. The visuals seem intent in blowing whatever grey matter you’ve been invested in saving these past years right out your ear canals, and the same goes for most everything else about the game.

You have a single life and a choice between four worlds as 1-4 Minute long survival challenges. The goal is simply to score as much as you can within the space of time without causing Squidageddon. What’s quite refreshing is the complete lack of any power ups, as your ship is outfitted with a large auto-firing cannon anyways so the instant you start playing everything becomes a fight to survive, rather than slowly warming up as you have to rebuild your arsenal each time. Also there are plenty of options available so you’re free to lower the challenge by eliminating pesky collisions or up it by including heavy motion blur and attempting to get your own upchuck out of the keyboard as you try to comprehend the smorgasbord of colour you have unleashed upon your own monitor. And once your keys have dried out and any bile has been carefully chipped off, the full release will probably be out and it’ll be time to do it all over again! Fun times!

(Source: That IndieGames site what writes about indie games.)

  • fuxter

    oh, i love this game!
    can’t stay alive even for small time…

  • Onymous

    So I seem to randomly stop moving or stop being able to steer while playing. Is that a bug or a feature? I tried playing it on practice and it doesn’t seem to be obviously tied to anything like number of things on screen.

  • Onymous

    Oops never mind, i just tried it on low visual and no motion blur, I guess it IS tied to the amount of effects on screen, just that on default thats already too much for my old rig.

    Though I find it interesting that instead of slow down happening, the input just stops working.

    Great game by the way and I love the accessibility, totally with you on the little developers note.

  • bobdodded


  • 7point83hertz

    genius game.

  • RobF

    “Though I find it interesting that instead of slow down happening, the input just stops working.”

    That’s crazy! I’m really going to have to get a lower rent PC to test on myself.

    Sorry about that, not sure what gives there.

  • Lyx

    I really like how “arcade” and visually polished this plays and i think i will from time to time to come back to playing this for a long time. There are basically just two things, which may be considered a matter of taste, how i could see this improved:

    – Even though all the control options are nice, i cannot make synso move as i would prefer – but i think it has to do with that firing-direction and movement direction are tied together. It feels a bit like driving a car, while i prefer movement styles, where its more like moving an ufo which can shoot into any direction ;)

    – It would have been interesting, if the worlds would be a bit more individual regarding visuals and enemies. Regarding visuals, i dont mean a totally different look, but more distinct background images and perhaps certain colors being more frequent in a world.

    Besides of those two things, i really cannot come up with anything which i would prefer different in this game, and as i said: both of the mentioned things may be a matter of taste.

    Congratz on a great game :)

  • http://www.greg-anims.com Greg-Anims


    way fun game :)

  • Oddbob

    Lyx, thanks!

    The game doesn’t really hold up with dual stick/precision aiming.

    The intention (and whether this worked or not is down to folks own interpretation) is to get you to play aggressively. The collision detection (when it’s on) is incredibly generous so as to encourage you to go rushing in lasers blazing and make big explosions happen. You can get away with a whole lot of running into stuff guns blazing and you’ll come out the other side still alive.

    I’m not sure *if* I’ve conveyed that well enough in the game, I hope I have, but you never know till it’s out there!

    WRT, the worlds differing. Yup, I’m aware of that and it’s something I’m working on.

  • Scypher

    Could you include the ability to retry the same level after dying, instead of going through the main menu again? The mindblowing audio and visuals lend a lot to getting this amped up groove going, which is dampened by having to go through the menu formalities again. In fact, I think the SQUIDAGEDDON Game Over sequence could be shortened by a second or two for the same reason.

  • duo

    I love the new collision detection. Sometimes, when I think I’m going to get hit, with lasers shooting at me, with big explosions blocking my view, I feel like maverick when the smoke finally clears and I’m still flying.

    I have a pretty fast laptop with 512mb dedicated graphics, and it lags pretty bad when a lot of things are going on. Anyway, there’s too much view obstruction with the 3 setting.

    BTW, the new and original SYNSOs are the most fun/intense indie games I have ever played. The new 2 minute level, wow…

  • Paul Eres

    I hope “title: ___ harder!” becomes a common indie game new update pattern.

    I think my favorite part of this game is the sound effects / sound design. Really good work there.

  • http://iterationgames.com jph

    Yup,. that is a friggin’ piece of work! It is a wonderful use of colors, lights, and noises, to get the mind zoned.., I’m getting a bit better at it,. still have not won 3 or 4.., I likes it best with everything turned to max!

    One question about the design, just wonderin’,. why you have that tinny bit of scrollin’ it does? I suppose you loose the edge view away from where you are but its such a tinny bit,. what was you reason for that Rob?

    I am working on an old school arena shooter currently myself,. also Jarvis/Minter influanced,. but I never had a Speccy what’d I miss from this Paul Holmes? (think i had a atari 800 round that time, made my first game on that,. .)

  • Alez

    Controls were not what I’m used to, but after a while ya adapt to ’em fine.
    Very pretty.
    Proud to say I’ve managed to beat the 3:00 min. world, pure luck… 4:00 not looking so good.

  • sinoth

    Hmm, GeForce GTX275 with latest drivers, and when I press fire to actually enter the game all I get is a black screen if any motion blur is on. If I turn it off, the game runs fine.

  • Oddbob

    Scypher, the whole game over/level complete is a mess! For some reason it never actually dawned on me how much of a pain it was between the next to no difference of dying/completing a stage and the time to restart so yeah, no worries – that’s something marked very much on my “urgent to do” list. I’ve had more gripes about that than anything else.

    Such a silly thing to not twig onto too.

    Paul, ta. The title: _harder is Dan Marshall’s fault entirely. He broke into my brain and made me do it.

    The music, in case anyone hasn’t checked is the work of Spintronic He’s bloody brilliant (more stuff here: http://www.myspace.com/spintr0nic) and I’m dead chuffed he gave his blessing to use it (I know it’s CC licensed, but politeness is everything).

    jph, Paul Holmes is/was responsible for Wild West Hero and the speccy port of Robotron. You can play it online over at World Of Spectrum (http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0005686). It’s dated, but still good fun. Also a PC remake is here: http://www.geocities.com/wildwesthero2004/wwh/wwh.html

    They probably don’t stand up well against more modern fare, but they’ve both got a place in my heart for different reasons (Robotron for bringing a wonderful new grey area to the piracy debate by only being available to play now thanks to someone pirating it in the first place). It all makes for good research material regardless, I think I played more arena shooters whilst putting this together than is humanly sensible.

    The scrolling is there purely to make things feel a little bit more dynamic. No other reason than it all feels a little nicer wooshing around having everything in motion and not just you. I’ve just been testing a port of SYNSO that a kind chap has done for me and it’s weird how flat it all feels without that tiny little bit of motion to kick things up a notch.

    I didn’t make the arena larger as I wanted you to be able to see everything that’s got potential to kill you at all times and short of a minimap I couldn’t think of an elegant way to achieve that. Well, not without ripping off Jeff’s brilliant “particles point towards the enemy” trick from GR++ but I think that’d be a step too far even for me. It was difficult enough resisting the urge to throw in x/y zappers ;)

    Is your next game still in zGame Editor? I’m in bloody awe of the stuff you’re pulling with that thing, amazing style, man.

  • Tim James

    My X360 wireless controller didn’t work out of the box for some reason.

    I like the music. Reminded me of Jets n’ Guns.

  • Oddbob

    Sinoth, bugger. That’s just silly! I’ve been testing on the stupidly dead within a week of release Radeon 2900 and it’s coped with everything I’ve thrown at it. Your card should be way overkill to cope with anything I’m doing.

    Curse ye nVidia!

    Tim, dunno! Been testing it on a wired 360 pad and it works fine. I wouldn’t have expected any difference but just goes to show you can’t take anything for granted. I think there’s an xinput thingy for GM floating around so I’ll have a look to see if I can do something about that.

  • Ezuku

    Ah, this is very nice. I would have preferred a twinstick configuration to be honest, as right now movement feels a little too much like driving, but I can understand if that could be considered a little too imba. Other minor comment would be that I have to agree that the death scene is too long, and I would prefer getting straight back into the game rather than having the lose screen for so long. Maybe a larger death explosion when I die too? Sometimes hard to tell when you’re dead, especially on the “my eyes” setting (which I love).

    Aside from that, fantastic game.

  • sinoth

    Oddbob: If there’s any way I can get you some debug output or something I will. These types of issues are frustrating :/ What extension are you using for the motion blur?

  • Oddbob

    Thanks man, I know what it is though and it’s my own lazy fault :D

  • Lyx

    Thanks for the replay Oddbob. Yes, i can see how a dual-control scheme would strongly modify the gameplay and difficulty.

    As for game speed and hardware – I’m playing this on the following hardware and have no problems:

    OS: Very lightweight WinXP SP3
    CPU: 1,8 GHz Dualcore
    RAM: 2 GB RAM
    GPU: Geforce Go 7400 with 256mb, 3years old drivers

  • superflat

    Fucking wicked.

  • Seth

    What key do I press to get to the options screen??

  • Lyx

    number one. i had to search a bit myself, because i wasnt sure if that is an i, I, l or 1.