For the most part, the sole purpose of any game is to deliver the player a fun time. Yes, it could be said that for some the draw of a professional contract and massive cash earnings are a reason for playing, and others may prefer to run a scare-fuelled horror experience – something which is about as far removed from any fun aspect as you could probably imagine. But on the whole, gaming should be fun. So when you come to market with a game that proudly sells itself as #Funtime, with a hashtag in tow, you really do need to deliver on that aspect. Thankfully, what OneGuyGames’ Brandon Robinson has created, and what The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild are publishing, does exactly what it says on the tin. Yep, just like SUPERHOT is super hot, #Funtime provides a hell of a fun time.
#Funtime is a twin-stick shooter that utterly excels in delivering a smooth, pretty damn explosive experience, working very much like the iconic Geometry Wars series did back in the day. However, in order to compete in a market which is chock-full of competition, building on the back of the power of that market leader, #Funtime tries to do something different. And it really does work. In fact, even without its USP, it would still be a more than competent shooter in its own right.
You see, not only do you have to utilise the standard twin-stick mechanics that all gamers worth their salt will know about, but #Funtime brings a unique colouring-in mechanic to the situation at hand, seeing you able to trap and take down foes, earning bonus points by filling your playing field with all manner of colourful hues. Linked directly to the four face buttons on the Xbox One controller – yellow, green, blue, and red – a quick tap of these buttons will see your ship change colour, before leaving a trail of destruction behind it, painting the arenas you fling yourself around. It’s a rather brilliant little addition to the norm, and allows for an extra degree of strategy and tactical nous to come to each and every playthrough. Drop in an arena clearing smart bomb for when things start to get out of hand, and the opportunity to utilise quick invincibility via a dash, and all the usual elements required of a good twin-stick shooter are here.
Your time with #Funtime will include partaking in two different game types, both of which deliver a multitude of options – Challenge Mode and Arcade Mode. And whilst just those two options may seem stingy, there’s more than enough content included in them both to keep you going for a lengthy old time.
For many it will be the former which provides the biggest draw; an option which sees #Funtime do as it says on the tin, putting your skills to the test and throwing out one hell of a challenge. 54 levels of twin-stick shooting mayhem sit in place here, with you tasked on taking home one, two, or three stars depending on your skills at hand. Each of these comes with a different battle mode in place, letting you showcase your skills to the online global leaderboarded world as you compete in Survival, Timed Survival, Escape, Time Attack, Waves, Zones and titular Funtime-themed gameplay. These pretty much do as you would expect, as the Survival and Timed Survival modes request you to earn a specific score, or last for a certain amount of time, before succumbing to the numerous foes present. Time Attack works a similar line, pushing you to score as many points as possible before a timer reaches zero, whilst Escape levels throw you into a unique maze-like arena in the hope you can find the exit in a specific timeframe. These are a great way of breaking up the usual spray and pray approach that twin-stickers are famed for, combining the need to shoot and the need to run rather damn well.
The Zones and Waves options are interesting too, with the former adding in shielded colour zones that you can find refuge in should you be able to match your ship to its colour, whilst Waves again does as you would expect – waves upon waves of foes all presented to you and your ship, with the need to destroy anything and everything that moves.
The Funtime challenges ramp things up a little more, providing your usual ship with a tasty wrecking ball attachment, swinging around madly, destroying everything as you move around the arena. The twist here though is that this ball can also damage your ship, unless you’ve utilised those face buttons to ensure you match up. Constantly changing colour schemes means you’ll need to be on guard to ensure your ship and wrecking ball become one.
But then sitting pretty alongside that, and allowing for a great way of learning the ropes of #Funtime, is the Arcade Mode. This delivers similar game options across Survival, Large Survival, Open Survival, Waves, Zones and Funtime modes, with you left to just play through one scenario on each to earn as many points as you can.
Whatever game mode you are playing in #Funtime, your main aim will be to gather up as many points as you can. In Arcade these get translated into cash in which you can upgrade your ship with, but across the Challenge arenas it’s all about placing as high up the global leaderboards as you possibly can. As we all know, bragging rights are key in any game, and that is especially true here; that is why a nifty little combo multiplier system is included in #Funtime. Scattered around each arena, popping up as and when they see fit, collectible stars will ensure that your scores gain traction with every kill, building on each other and allowing for you to reach the stars – quite literally – in terms of overall scores. Get hit, and all collected stars are lost, leaving you to work your way up from the lowly x1 scores again. Keeping an eye on your combo is a key component to #Funtime, but dare to take your eye off the ball and you’ll be left straggling around once more.
It is here however that ship upgrades come to the fore, and the more you play, the bigger the opportunity to increase health levels and pickups, bullet types, smart bombs and boost options, and see the inclusion of a friendly satellite gun and the all-important color swap abilities. Linked directly to the scores you earn, each of these will in turn give the chance for you to earn even more points, unlocking further abilities and ensuring that wicked circle of gameplay goodness is consistently complete. It’s a clever system that will see you heading back into #Funtime numerous times, knowing that the next upgrade is just a few more kills away, helping you further cement your leaderboard spots and seeing those runs get lengthier each time.
However you’re playing #Funtime, throughout you’ll be witness to some superbly bright, absolutely manic visual destruction. With a variety of different foes in place that all have differing abilities and attack structures – some will come at speed, others will utilise their own weapons, more still will be shielded whilst further ones will be taken down with your coloured trail – it has to be said that colour explodes every second you work your way through both the Arcade and Challenge modes. It should also be said that at times it gets so frantic that it’s a struggle to ensure your eyes – and your thumb reflexes – keep up with play, but the more you knuckle down, and the more you spend time with this brilliant twin-stick shooter, the easier things will become, as you slowly but surely become one with your ship and understand the complexities at play. You’ll need to as well, because I’ve not yet experienced a single glitch, moment of lag, or stutter during my time across the many levels. Credit must go out to Brandon Robinson and The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild for creating something so smooth and responsive.
It’s helped along by the fact that the soundtrack that accompanies your play is also of a very high quality. Pumping the bass out, it really lets you get immersed in the whole #Funtime experience – as does each and every shot and kill made. And even though it’s the visuals and gameplay options which are the standout elements, props again go out for the inclusion of a well-worked audioscape.
So what’s not to like? Honestly, I’ve got little to pick up on with #Funtime, because this really is a game that does as the title suggests. Being picky though, I’d like more ship upgrade options in the Arcade Mode – especially in terms of weapon types – as those that can be purchased with in-game credits fast run out. A few little additions here would make the world of difference. And further to that, I’m not sure the little helper drone which can be unlocked and added to the game fairly swiftly is that much of a help; if anything I’ve found myself distracted by this little guy more often than I would have liked. Much of #Funtime plays on sharp reflexes and the need to zero in on your ship, maneuvering yourself past and through anything that gets close – time and time again I’ve tried to escape the clutches of this little helper thinking that it was an opponent who was getting too close for comfort.
I’m also not a massive fan of the larger, more open arenas that are provided, mainly as it’s just a bit too tricky to really spot the various rocks and asteroids that are dropped into the background. Connect your ship with one of these and your health will fast diminish. I’m sure many will find these larger areas a joy, but for me the real fun of #Funtime comes in the smaller, tighter, extremely confined stages.
Other than that though, #Funtime on Xbox One is right up there with the very best twin-stick shooters on the market. It provides plenty of playing options, it has just enough challenge to make sure you find yourself going back time and time again, and it’s got a brilliantly responsive and smooth control system which is an utter must for a game of this ilk. Kudos must go out to Robinson and The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild for the creation of a new title to rival Geometry Wars as the king of twin-sticking. #Funtime really is an extremely accomplished twin-stick shooter that fans of the genre will adore.