Dead End City (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, X/S, PC)

This is a 2-D vertically scrolling shooter that recreates the look and feel of a 90s arcade game.  The premise is somewhat unique because instead of piloting a spaceship, you’re driving a heavily armed car through desert wastelands and ruined cities in a postapocalyptic setting.  Very Mad Max inspired.  The game is available on all current consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Play control is pretty self explanatory.  Move with the left analog stick and hold down the X button to fire.  The circle button gives you a more powerful temporary shot when you collect enough power.  You’ll have to make sure to keep collecting fuel, too.  There are two modes of play.  Arcade is the standard mode.  You’ll first drive through a stretch of land as you reach the city.  Here you’ll shoot waves of enemies that circle in a formation, very much like Galaga.  When you survive enough of these waves, you’ll go to a city where you must shoot down other people and cars as you also avoid obstacles.  Then after that you fight a boss.  The other mode is Highway which gives you three minutes to get the highest score possible.  This mode plays more like a bullet hell shooter.

Unfortunately I had a lot of problems with this game.  I know I’m not very good at 2D shooters like this, but this one was way too hard.   Power-ups like fuel fall way too quickly off the screen, giving you no time to react to get them.  Plus you can’t continue after you explode.  You can collect coins to buy things in a shop, like unlockable characters.  You can unlock them by beating bosses or spending way too much money to buy them, and it takes forever to get that many coins.  It’s a shame, too, because otherwise this game really does a good job recreating the feel of a 90s arcade shooter, and I liked that.

Kid Factor:

Dead End City is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You shoot cars and motorcycles that explode, and can run over and shoot people as well that shout out ‘argh’ when defeated.  But the pixel graphics negate a lot of the visual violence.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, but not necessary just to play.  Younger gamers may find this one too difficult, though.

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