Particle Mace is an arcade-style romp that combines the destructive tactics of Asteroids (Atari, 1979) with the multiplayer experience of Space Wars (Cinematronics, 1977). Created by Andy Wallace, this game succeeds in capturing classic arcade action, while at the same time providing something new. As you maneuver your ship among deadly rocks and spry enemies, you must use centripetal force to swing a retinue of tethered particles (maces) into all that obstruct your way.
The first thing you’ll notice when you begin a game is that your ship is surrounded by a blue dashed circle. Also within the circle is a small “X-cursor”, which is actually your mouse pointer. This is important to understand early on. You do not move your ship and retinue directly, rather they automatically follow the X-cursor as you move your mouse around the screen. The farther away from your ship you move the mouse, the faster your ship will fly. As you advance through the levels, enemy ships will appear, attempting to crash into you. Move your mouse in such a way as to cause your particle retinue to swing into the enemies. The same goes for the yellow rocks that float about the map. If you clear the map of all such obstructions, you advance to the next level.
Some maps feature bonus goals, beyond simply purging the screen. If you see a large white encircled area, this is called a hill. To earn the “King of the Hill” bonus, you must remain inside the white circle for a specified amount of time. If you fail, play continues without awarding you the bonus.
Particle Mace offers four modes of play:
1. Arcade: Classic single-player action. Progress as far as you can
2. Mission: Complete the game’s built-in storyline
3. Co-op Arcade: Join a team (up to four players) in Arcade mode
4. Death Match: Use your particles to destroy your friends’ ships in addition to everything else on the screen
Whichever mode you choose, you’ll experience the thrill and nostalgia of coin-operated machines gone by. Progression is not without reward. While you start off with a fairly simple space ship, there are nine different ships in the game. Can you unlock them all?
Overall, Particle Mace delivers what you’d expect from a genre-specific indie game. It’s very challenging…maybe too much at times! But if you’re in the mood to master its intricacies (and perhaps cold-calling your friends to help you), you’ll surely enjoy hours of highly addictive, mace-swinging action.
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