This top-down, twin-stick, shoot 'em up does the ideal job when you're after 15 minutes of stress-busting relief. You choose from 8 levels of difficulty in the form of different coloured belts (each colour indicates a different game speed) then dive into as many 30-second levels as you wish - that's if you're in Tally Mode. Adventure mode sees you go for a last-as-long-as-you-can romp.
--MENUS, PROGRESS & STATS--
The opening lobby screen has a carousel-like menu to get to whatever you're after but in a game where you're after a quick blast even this can be time-consuming. Selecting a belt in Tally-Mode is also a little cumbersome in that you have to exit the progress screen, choose a belt (or check which belt you're on) and then go back to the progress screen. The more rewarding sense of achievement in MSR comes in the form of clearing rooms in the Tally mode. Progress is displayed by showing which of the 89 rooms have been cleared and with which coloured belt. The game takes you to this screen every time you finish a room and this is a great, at-a-glance progress system which I really like.
First off, the game throws you into a very tight room with very little space for manoeuvre and challenges you to clear it in 30 seconds. The strategy is to keep as far away from the enemies as possible while usually hugging close to the sides and blasting at them with your laser-gun. It's a fast, furious and intense experience. Once you hit 20 seconds an ominous ten second warning siren rings out to signal that a nasty and indestructible black twirly alien thing will arrive at the 30-second mark. To make things more brutal, an extra one appears every 10 seconds.
With the coloured belts system the game effectively gives you 712 (89x8) rooms altogether. The actual challenge from room to room rises well but occasional boss-levels can be tough (it took me an age to finally clear Room 16 on black-belt mode). Adventure mode is fun for a 10 minute blast but I think the more satisfying challenge comes in attempting the separate rooms in Tally mode. You rack up a score - shown at the end of level completion - but the substance of the game lies in completion of levels rather than score. One death ends the level (in Tally mode) making that 15 seconds delay to get back into the game seem VERY long.
--SOUND & GRAPHICS--
The sound is ambient and fairly minimalist with a deep tunnel-like feel. When entering a room you get that churning but rhythmic and echoey industrial sound which adds a suitable edge to the game's atmosphere. A springy, clicking sound accompanies a failure. Explosions and the deaths of enemies is satisfying especially those that require a number of hits to be dispatched - but don't expect anything cutting-edge. Rooms are well lit with a Tron inspired neon-lighting theme.
Like most twin-stick shooters, this is not a game that you'd normally play for long stretches. However, for a 15 or 20 minute blast it's a great pick-up-and-play game. It definitely has enough good qualities to put it above average and the freedom and convenience it gives you to try rooms at eight different skill levels is very appealing. This, along with its 30-second-per-room formula, means you know exactly where you are within the game.