Ceramic Shooter – Electronic Poem

By: Paul Eres

On: April 13th, 2010

Ceramic Shooter – Electronic Poem by Theta games is a sequel to their earlier 2008 game Ceramic Shooter. Although it was released nearly a month ago, when I went to play it it had only been tried by 10 people. Ortoslon’s video playthrough of the game (above) had far more views as the game had plays; Death Worm had about 15000x as many plays. This was kind of surprising to me considering how good this game is.

I suggest neither watching the video or reading the rest of the review under the jump; just play it first. If you want instructions: avoid breaking stuff for the first half of the game (this is hard, because you can’t stop firing). After playing through it, then watch the video, because it shows some things that you probably missed while frantically trying to avoid shooting stuff. I watched the video first, which made me expect the game to be a lot easier than it actually is (it’s an Ortoslon video).

I found the design and music of this game top-notch; the sprites and graphics less so, but this is freeware. I especially liked how the music was in tune with the stuff that you have to avoid.

The concept for the game was also something I’ve been working on and thinking about for a while: an action game that isn’t about shooting everything, but still feels like an action game, with the same intensity. And this was achieved here, through a simple reversal: you have to move quick to avoid shooting things, because you can’t stop shooting. It’s certainly one way to do it. Maybe there are more.

There’s a trade-off in the game: if you stay near the bottom of the screen, you’re less likely to run into things and destroy them with your ship. But you then generate a long string of shots, which will destroy things more often. If you move to the top of the screen, you aren’t very likely to shoot anything at all (since your shots immediately go off screen), but you’re more likely to crash into things as they come into the view. How the player handle’s this trade-off is important; I usually kept myself in the middle of the screen.

The climax of the game comes about halfway in, when you’re finally able to shoot things (and encouraged to), although your real goal is to paint the screen full of color. That point is what makes it feel like a crime to me that this game had only 10 plays (hence this review). I hope to see a lot more from Theta Games.

  • witelankan

    What is this crap?

  • Strife

    Its called a “game”.

  • kikijiki

    Ooh gauss is tough, lol!

  • MisterX

    I usually do not enjoy “modern art”, and certainly not most “art games”, but this is something else. This was a very nice experience :)
    I actually like it a lot for being something I couldn’t define as “good” or “bad”, but still don’t hate for being too artsy. It’s simply a very nice, unique experience, that I wouldn’t want to analyze any further, as that’s just enough.

    And indeed, I’d recommend anyone to give this a try, but don’t read the article or watch the video beforehand (If that’s even still possible, given that you’re already reading comments!), as the game will lose part of its appeal.

  • http://flashpunk.net ChevyRay

    :O No wayyyy.

    This is unbelievable. One of the coolest game presentations I’ve seen in awhile, very nice. I tried playing first, but couldn’t get very far (not that great at shooters, even only moderately difficult ones), so I watched the video, and I was giddy the whole way through.

    Amazing job, this game deserves more credit.

  • Mark

    I think this is a pretty cool concept, and I want to give the full game a try. Nice find.

  • http://chaoseed.com/garden John Evans

    It’s got a nice atmosphere, but it’s too hard. I couldn’t even get to the part the review describes where the gameplay changes.

  • Fuck Yeah

    Wow, a shooter with moody music and emo words pasted into it, really impressive, almost made me cry. This is like– *cof* a breath –*cof* of fresh air*cof* from the*cof*cof* creatively*cof* stagnated*cof* AAA industry*cof*. Incredible, indeed. Yeah.

  • Xeno

    Pretty cool mechanics, and loved the music!

  • Keyser

    Yeah let’s just throw ANYTHING that sounds vaguely creative into the “emo” category. Oh and that bright and playful piano music? Fuck it, that’s now “moody” piano music.

    Honestly “Fuck Yeah” did you even play the same game as me? I played an upbeat and interesting game with really cool surrealistic poetry and music that accompanied it very well, whereas you seem to just be throwing terms like “moody” and “emo” out there for no reason.

    And hey, if you’re trolling or… something… well you still look like a moron. Do everyone a favor and stop bringing the indie community down with your blind hate for anything new that tries to be intelligent.

  • StephenM3

    I didn’t realize what the menu music was at first. Clever.

    This is all around a very clever little piece. Successful as a game as well as poetry. Nothing life-changing, but potent and interesting. Excellent!

  • BoboDaHobo

    Gorgeous. And shockingly fun to play.

  • Jay

    brutal waste of time

  • Franz Macco

    I don´t get this game, it seems to be aimed only at a very internal group of people at thees forums. As a shmup fan this has nothing i want in a shooter though i understand that´s not the point of this game anyway. But then again, it´s a shooter..

  • Ben

    The simultaneously reading and dodging the words was very intense for me! Thanks for sharing.

  • StephenM3

    Franz:

    If you already know what you want out of a game, where is there room for enjoying something new? If it’s just the genre, then just treat this as if it’s not a shooter.

    This isn’t an excellent game in that it’s the most fun to play. But it’s excellent in that it tries something unusual and pulls it off well.

    Not something I’d play repeatedly when I’m bored, but something I’m really glad I tried out once.

  • http://roachpuppy.com Chris Zamanillo

    Absolutely love the music and how it syncs.

    Unfortunately this was all through watching ortolson’s video since the game crashes on startup for me :(

  • Marten Infinite

    Yep, me too – crash on startup. :(

  • [email protected]

    Very unusual, very touching :)

  • Juhkystar

    I found it an enjoyable game. Nothing “touching” to me, but it was a relaxing and different mode of play. Eh, games are what you get out of them.
    Well done! =)

  • SidM

    I noted the ship fly over a map of India, and that Ceramic was communicating with “Kavita”.

    An Indian name that means “Poem”.

  • Boxcars

    This game is really something. It’s such a well-designed experience.

    I got pretty far in the game, but AUGH– has he never heard of checkpoints? I lost near the end and don’t want to replay it right now…

  • Carlo

    It was definitely interesting and pretty intense. I thought it was a pretty clever idea and well executed.

  • paul eres

    checkpoints in a 10 minute long game? you guys are spoiled.

    (i beat the game the second time i tried it, died the first time; so it can’t be that hard, i’m not very good at shmups.)

    i don’t think checkpoints would make much sense because you’d easily be able to get yourself into an unwinnable situation (by building up a lot of damage in minute 1-3, and not having enough remaining damage to get through minute 4-6).

  • JOOLA

    Excellent game!

    This kind of games is the reason I still love games.

  • http://www.best-electric-tooth-brush.com/sonicare-brush-heads/ sonic

    Weird game, not sure if I really hate it or really love it

    One of “those” kind of games lol

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/rorkimaru Rorkimaru

    shame it’s a GameMaker game. can’t play on linux =(

  • Anarkex

    This is what sucks about western indie games. By which I mean both the game and the comments. I’m just going to leave you with that, because I’ve played this game before (both the game and the comments).

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  • http://twitter.com/aechidna Zachary Cotton

    Very cool. I loved the whole feel of this game. It felt more like an interactive tone poem than a game but that is a definition that will have to stretch eventually.

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