Since the early days of video games, shooters — led by quarter-muncher Space Invaders — have been a staple of the medium. From humble beginnings, they became more complex and culminated in titles with sophisticated upgrade systems and complex enemy patterns. Switch ‘N’ Shoot, developed and published by Matt Glanville, does the opposite and boils the genre down to its essence. We played Switch ‘N’ Shoot at PLAY Expo Blackpool 2018.
The gameplay is a simple as it gets: you control a spaceship — of course it’s a spaceship — and move along the bottom of the screen, shooting the incoming, brain-like aliens. You have one hit point, no extra lives and no continues. One hit from the enemy and you are sent back to the beginning of the game.
Here is the twist: Switch ‘N’ Shoot (which we checked out previously) uses only a single button. Your plucky little spaceship moves horizontally by itself. Hitting the fire button releases both a projectile and changes the ship’s direction. Thus every shot has to be well-timed to both hit the brain in front of you and avoid other enemies or collect a power-up for your gun.
Thankfully, Switch ‘N’ Shoot has responsive controls and while it is easy to fail, it is also easy to get back into the game. Your ship respawns instantaneously and the next wave of enemies is ready to be destroyed with no delay.
This makes Switch ‘N’ Shoot addictive instead of frustrating. It perfectly captures the spirit of the arcade game and is, in fact, available as one. In addition to the usual-suspect platforms, Switch ‘N’ Shoot has been released for custom-made, coin-operated arcade cabinets.
Also true to its arcade roots is Switch ‘N’ Shoot’s gameplay loop. While there are different sectors, there is no actual final boss or real ending. Instead, the goal is to destroy as many enemies as possible. Once your vessel gets inevitably blown up, you can compare your achievements to those of others on online leaderboards.
Switch ‘N’ Shoot gets everything right. Its controls are simple and tight, the game can be picked up within seconds but takes time be mastered and it is as unforgiving as it is addictive.
Switch ‘N’ Shoot is now available for PC, Mac, Linux, Android and arcade cabinets.