Rigid Force Redux is…

…I’m sorry… we’re going to have to deal with the (stiffening) elephant in the room before we get started. WTF were developers Headup Games thinking when they came up with that title?! I mean, you don’t even have to have a mind particularly sensitive to double-entendres for an image to be forming in your mind, surely? Or maybe i’m just too thinking about it … dare I say… too hard? (snigger)

Anyway, the question of the day: Is the force strong with this one? Is it taut and erect, or limp and flaccid? First things first: RFR is a horizontal shmup in the mould of R-Type. You pilot a ship against waves of enemies through various space-scapes and complexes, each with their own environmental hazards to avoid or defeat.

Tweaks to the sub-genre come in the form of energy collection, gained from downed baddies, and which fills a bar along the bottom of the screen. This can then be used to power your ship’s sword [steady now…] which arcs in front of your R-9 styled vessel to clear your nemeses’ bullets, or deployed as a blast from your special weapon […watch it, you…]

A dedicated button harvests energy which, when pressed, renders you less mobile and more of a sitting duck. This means collection’s a risk/reward trade off that come into play in later stages and at tougher settings. Difficulty-wise, the game’s not too hard […careful…] and is balanced well. 

You always want to feel your wee ship is a serious threat in these games, so your lasers and missiles have to create a maelstrom of destruction. At the same time, the enemy forces have to be tricksy and evasive, willing to thrust you into tight spaces [steady…] so the environment plays as big a part in the challenge as the opposition does. And whilst there are no level designs as memorable as, say, R-Type’s Stage 3 giant battleship, or Gradius’s Maoi heads, they are serviceable enough and easy to ‘read’ even during frantic spells of action.

A decent synthy soundtrack keeps the energy high, and collision detection is pin-sharp, so no complaints there. There’s a fairly standard Boss Rush mode to unlock, plus a more quirky ‘arcade’ mode that sees you having to rescue stranded astronauts to keep a score clock going. It’s a mildly amusing diversion that pads out the six-stage main game.

In all honesty, we could be done there. RFR is the very definition of a ‘decent’ game. It’s entirely adequate, with a significant challenge that you can dial-in, competent physics and systems that mesh successfully. 

The flipside, of course, is that there’s nothing inventive or groundbreaking in its ricocheting lasers and seeker missiles. Amongst the unique stages and enemies, you’ll still find everything from small nods to giant winks at R-Type’s design. It’s been over 30 years, lads. You have to drop the duplication of effort; time to move on.

Rigid Force Redux never has any trouble performing, and has a few tricks up its sleeve even though — for the most part — it’s just going through the motions. Still, there’s fun to be had, if you’re willing to lie back and think of England the Bydo.

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