Looking for a Action Space Shooter/RTS game? Well, Pame Interactive released CEPINAS on the XBLIG marketplace to fill that desire. Before anyone asks or I get any further let me say it now, this is not a twin stick shooter. It seems wrong that I feel the need to say that, but it does happen to be the case for a lot of games with similar styles.
The games concept is a simple one. Conquer the planets on the map and hold them. Do this to progress through the 8 different maps in campaign mode. Obviously it can’t be too simple, what would be the fun in that, right? First off there are 5 rounds for each map, so to move to the next map you must control the majority of the territory on that map at the end of round 5. A nice feature to this game is that the method you assure dominance and control is up to you. So lets talk about that next.
Cepinas gameplay consists of you controlling a ship that can shoot enemy ships, satellites, and asteroids as well as conquer neutral or enemy planets. The controls are a little different than most overhead shooters. RT is your gas, LT is for leaving a trail used to conquer planets, A is used for firing and the stick is used for turning right and left. To conquer a planet you have to get between the planet and the orbit ring and circle the entire planet, do this and it’s yours. This is all the enemy has to do to take a planet from you as well.
So what makes this game anything more than a shooter? Well for one each round is on a timer, there is no limit to how many time you can smash into a planet or an enemy ship. You have to think ahead. Taking a small planet will give you a small amount of money at the end of the round as well as right away, but will only add a small amount of territory control. Taking a large planet will give you more money immediately as well as more money at the end of the rounds in which you control it, but it takes longer to circle the planet and that adds to the risk of accidentally crashing into the planet, an enemy or satellite shooting you. You may have to forgo taking a planet in order to defend one you’ve already taken. So it isn’t just go out there guns blazing and expect to win.
Now, what do you get for the money between rounds? There are a number of options to choose from. Each planet can have up to 3 satellites circling it, and you have 5 levels of satellites to chose from the cheapest just floats around the ring and is an annoyance, but 2 through 5 shoot at enemies near them as well as can take more hits the higher the level they are. Another option is to shrink the size of the orbit ring around the planet, this can really make it harder for the enemy to take it from you as they are more likely to crash than before. The other options are upgrades to your ship. You can upgrade its speed, or the power of its attack. You can change its fire from single fire to double or a wide spread three shot, not to mention shields. Between all these options the computer will be doing similar upgrades to their planets as well. So it’s best to take away their planets before end of round as well as get control of the largest planets.
The game plays out very nicely and is a bit frustrating at times, each map seems to favor different options and strategies. With graphics reminiscent of the SNES days you won’t be playing this game for its appearance. The music for the game fits well, which is nice. Sadly I was unable to find an opponent to play online so I couldn’t experience the online multiplayer, which I am sure would have been a highlight of this game.
There were some flaws to the game, in the sense of glitches/bugs. When you first start the game there is a small glitch when it loads, but it doesn’t appear to do anything but pause the title screen for a second. The second glitch I found was far more annoying. While playing campaign mode on the very first map, at the end of round 5 I lost and the glitch caused the game to lock up and I had to exit to the dashboard to restart the game. The third glitch is when you later lose on a stage in campaign mode it asks to continue or return to menu. If you say return to menu it actually continues while if you say continue it brings you back to the map selection menu. Most of these glitches are more irritating than anything else, but you should be warned they are there and I can’t say for sure that there aren’t others.
In the end I give this game a 2 out of 5, between the bugs, lack of local mutliplayer. I can’t see this game holding many peoples attention for long. I think you would need to buy this game with an online friend so you have a challenger to play against, to get the most out of it. I actually did like this game and would have rated it higher if I could have played split screen, or wasn’t worried that I would run into another bug that required me to exit to the dashboard. With a little bit of love (some bug fixes) this game could easily be a 3 out of 5.