Sine Mora review for XBLA

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture/Digital Reality
Medium: Digital Download
Players: 1
Online: Leaderboards

The last time I took [a drug reference] was never, but if I had and then played Gradius followed by Star Fox, then I might understand how much of [that drug reference] that Grasshopper Manufacture took before getting to work on Sine Mora. They were probably also [some drug-related activity] enough to figure anyone with the skills to best their perilously sharp post-campaign difficulty curve must be absolutely wired on [a more shocking drug than the first]. Thank goodness I have an understanding of creativity and maddeningly tough gameplay rather than figuring [wild guess of what game development is like] just to see if people would pay for it.

While I have no idea what happened in the riveting two hours of Sine Mora’s campaign, or what language they were speaking, or what game I was playing, I found myself thoroughly satisfied at having completed the relatively short length. The story being relatively short, of course, to [made up statistic of typical game length]. For a shooter, however, this is really common. I don’t have to tell you that, though, since [estimation of average gamer] would never click this review and [praising an assumed elitist mindset the reader].

For fun I’m going to try and put the plot in a nutshell, since there is one and it makes sense after a few [something funny you could drink]. Basically, the B-sides cast from Star Fox are at war with an unknown force and there’s time travel, or is there? Maybe I already surmised the plot earlier just to make you go back to the first paragraph and read between the lines, like the game makes you think you should– but why would you replay chapters without finishing the campaign first? Is that how to play? I thought we were shooting things.

[Another paragraph of self-appreciating conversation for no reason. I never got around to the plot. Something happens and you’re shooting waves of things until the story ends and everything blows up. Again.]

Wait, why was that in brackets? The end had real information in it.

There’s a time mechanic. Well, a few, but it’s novel since I don’t remember that being in any shootemups. The one used in the story is bullet time to slow time around you, which is kind of like cheating in bullet hell, but then so was [game reference you would have argued against me with] and they got away with that. Plus, the main character can time travel, so he gets a pass. Or it does, since it’s an animal. There’s also rewind, and I think a way to set the clock so [the joke about VCRs always reading “12:00”].

The most novel feature could be compared to Lost Planet; loosely so, but that’s what I’m going with nonetheless. Your health isn’t a bar, it’s the timer. Killing enemies adds time and getting hit removes it. It’s like the arbitrary, plentiful orange goo in Lost Planet used to stay warm before dying, which is similarly also seems arbitrary in a shootemup with waves of opposing minutia that are constantly capping your timer at 99.99sec until you’re [off-putting rape analogy] by a reminder that every moment is a gift until you’re swarmed by [angry hornets].

I don’t understand my brackets gimmick anymore.

For a while I thought it was awesome to use the timer as a health meter (which also doubles as a scoring system), but then I realized it’s broken by design. For me it was a giant piece of construction equipment, for others it will be a giant robot or train encounter, but at some point you can actually run out of health before destroying a major enemy. If you’ve been [somethinging] up to a boss battle to the point you’ve only got 20sec left, then odds are you won’t live long enough to see the battle through. That’s funny and cruel. Some people would say it’s a fair challenge, since a skilled player will never be torn up to that point, but to them I say [SEO won’t like me using the word, but it’s a crude insult] because fuck you.

This was the only gameplay flaw I could come up with for a gorgeous-looking, tightly-wound, aggressively challenging, and great-sounding shootemup that Sine Mora is. Well, other than the fact that its Arcade and Score Attack modes are [hyperbolic adjective] to a point that they almost seem intimidating to play, but that’s what practice is for. It’s for being perfect at something.

I’d also have loved co-op but beggars can’t be choosers. I’m no beggar though, I’m a games journalist-slash-critic and I can take points off my score for that omission, especially at $15. I’m a real bastard.

Along with an awesome soundtrack and a smart sense of style, you’ll at least enjoy the atmosphere being beaten to death on its more challenging areas. It’s also awesome to play while [something about using drugs and that it’s okay to do since this is a review online and it might make me look cool to endorse illegal activity] since [whatever someone who doesn’t understand design would say].

[witty quip]

Grade: B+