Posted by Justin Tomann
Intergalactic DJ Battle
Teslapunk is truly a game like no other that we've played before. In the game, you are an earthling in a spaceship defending Earth from an invasion from evil Martian Emperor Zangôrax, who is not only an invader of planets, but also is Mars' most popular DJ by night. Throughout the six main levels you'll face off Martian spaceships, gramophones, and (literally) out of this world bosses.
Originally a mobile game, Teslapunk is a classic 2D shooter that takes place in presumably outer space. Besides the outlandish description of events that are happening, there is practically no story. However, that isn't all that important for this genre of game. We say "presumably in outer space" because the backdrop of all of the stages are just bizarre and intensely flashy and chaotic. In each of the six levels you'll face an array of enemies who relentlessly send bullets your way. To combat the enemies, you're stocked with three different weapons. First we have the laser, which protrudes from the front of your spaceship, annihilating anything in your way. When you're shooting the laser, your spaceship is slowed down considerably however, so it makes dodging the hundreds of bullets much more challenging. To balance that hindrance, your second weapon of choice, which does not slow you down, is a fast shooting blast shot which also has a wider spread than the laser. The third and final weapon is the voltage burst, an even larger laser which is crucial to obtaining a high score. The voltage burst doesn't only cause massive damage to your enemies, but it also cancels out their bullets. These cancelled bullets also increase your score multiplier, which is why they are so crucial to obtaining a high score. The voltage burst can be used by destroying the enemy aliens, which drop voltage cubes that fill up your voltage meter. The voltage meter fills in three increments, so if maxed out you could use the voltage burst 3 times. Alternatively, if the voltage meter has at least two increments full you can use it as safety net, where it auto activates upon taking damage. However, when you use this tactic the cancelled bullets don't count towards your score multiplier.
The game's main mode has four difficulties: Novice, Advanced, Expert, and Dynamic, meaning that the difficulty changes based on how high your multiplier is. We played through it on novice, and even on the easiest difficulty, we struggled. A lot. We had used all our continues and had to restart a few times to even stand a chance. Thankfully, this isn't too terrible since if you can manage to play through all the stages without being beaten, the game would only take you around an hour at most. The levels have a nice progression of getting more difficult as you play, and by the final level there are moments when there are hundreds of bullets you need to dodge that require incredible amounts of precision to get past. It's safe to say that causal gamers will probably not find much in the way of appeal to this game at all.
What caught our attention the most during our time with Teslapunk was the definitely the tunes - likely performed by DJ Zangôrax himself. These electronic galactic dance tunes are just straight up bizarre. We wouldn't really say the music was good, but we also wouldn't go as far to say that it is bad. It's definitely something else, and all we can really say is that Martians have strange taste in music.
If you get bored of the game's main mode there's also a survival mode, which actually plays a lot differently. Instead of having free movement and multiple weapons, you are locked to an X-axis at the bottom of your screen and only have one weapon, which shoots automatically. Enemies come towards you in literal waves. There is a line of five enemy ships that can't shoot and have no variety besides how strong their defenses are. There is also one giant ship that will come towards you every once in a while that does shoot at you, so you have those bullets to dodge. Destroyed enemies drop coins which in turn can be used to buy upgrades, items, and ships with different skills. Overall, we didn't find this mode to be all that fun to play. The upgrades are costly, and you can't really improve your skills. You'll just keep playing till you'll reach a point where your ship isn't upgraded enough to continue and do the same thing all over again. That kind of difficulty progression isn't fun.
Also beware Xbox gamers who appreciate having a Gamerscore that is an increment of 5, since the first achievement you'll likely unlock is worth 1 Gamerscore, and "hilariously" titled "OCD Trigger". To make it in an increment of 5 once again you'll need to beat the final stage which unlocks an achievement for 64 Gamerscore. The rest of the achievements are in increments of 5, thankfully.
Teslapunk is definitely up there for being one of the stranger [email protected] games. It may not be all that visually impressive but its outright peculiarity and addictive gameplay makes up for that shortcoming. While it may not be that long of a game, high score addicts can sink a lot of time trying to be the best among their friends (or the world) via the leaderboards.