SPACE GIRAFFE / Llamasoft / PC
You ever seen that "WHAT THE FUCK AM I READING" Ronald McDonald meme gif? WHAT THE FUCK AM I PLAYING is my response to this one. Complete with the crazy eye-rolling face and everything.
So this is by a guy that, since the 1980s, has basically somehow been making a career out of trippy remakes of classic arcade games. I'm all for pushing boundaries, playing with conventions, getting experimental, etc. But some experiments work and some don't. Making a "psychedelic" game with overly complex controls and gameplay that aren't adequately explained doesn't work. At all.
The game doesnt get off to an endearing start, with a Windows 3.1 box coming up asking you to choose between "NUXX" or "Acid Mix". This establishes the overall theme of just kind of lazily throwing shit at you without even trying to explain what it means or what the hell is going on, and then apparently just hand-waving away the lack of effort in coherence with "It's psychedelic maaaaaaann. Woooooooo"
Unfortunately it gets no better from there. You have to read a lengthy in-game tutorial just to learn how to not get killed immediately on the first level, and how to actually work your way through the second level (static screens, not a gameplay tutorial). The game seems to have been designed to be as counterintuitive as possible, and it doesn't help that pretty much every game object is just this vague mass of sparkling light - enemies, your bullets, background effects all blend together into some rave nightmare.
This is very much one of those games that insists that you put a lot of time and effort into it to get anything out of it. The key question the designers of a lot of these types of games forget to ask is, "Why should we fucking bother?" Ultimately the game just boils down to a clumsy Tempest clone with a weird and arbitrary rule set, which even if you take the time to learn is still hard to play due to not being able to visually differentiate between all the shiny pulsating shit flying around out there.
* Gameplay Video