Back in 2012 we were treated to Futurlab's Velocity, which was then followed by Velocity Ultra and Velocity 2X, but since we missed the chance for a review for the latter when it first released in 2014 on the PS4 and PS Vita, we thought now was the best time to rectify that. After all, Curve Digital is helping to bring the game to the Nintendo Switch, meaning a whole new audience can shoot 'em up four years after it first released.
The basic premise is that you wake up as Lt. Kai Tana who has been rebuilt after an accident and who is now light years away from her home and has to team up with a friend to try and escape. It's not going to win any awards for storytelling, but trust us, you're not going into Velocity 2X for the story, just in the same way as you don't go into a game like Doom for the narrative either. It's all about the mechanics and the action; the story is just a string to link all the levels together.
Gameplay takes two forms in Velocity 2X. First off you've got your ship (called Quarp) for space travel and combat, which handles much like classic arcade games like Galaxian - you face forward, and you shoot stuff in front of you. Simple. Of course, elements are tacked onto that as you progress, including teleportation and bombs you can fire sideways and behind, but the core premise is all about moving forwards and shooting, making sure you stay on the screen as that's always moving forwards too.
Then there are sections where you're out of your ship and on foot, which handle more like a 2D platformer with 360 shooting. Again, this will be familiar to most gamers, and there are extra features to spice things up, like a teleport node you can throw to get to new areas and enemies that are looking to kill you. By combining these two sides of the game you're always kept on your toes as to what you need to do, forcing you to switch up your style of play at a moment's notice.
The name of the game is speed, and you get assessed not only on the time taken for you to complete each level, but also the amount of stuff you collect, including what's called Survivors (the numerous icons spread across the level) and extra collectibles. Because you get scored on this at the end of each level - with the Perfect score always being the dream - this encourages you to be faster and more efficient to get the highest scores, so there's always a reason to replay if you're either a high score chaser or a completionist.
We once heard someone describe Doom as almost like a rhythm-action game in its shooting, and we'd have to extend that to Velocity 2X too, as you're always mixing shooting with the running, jumping and teleporting that you need to do to get into a groove to try and get through things as quickly as possible, of course avoiding danger as you do so. It's all about remembering patterns and what buttons do what, before then heading into the war zone to smash out a good run at a level.
It shouldn't be hard to keep the pace up with the soundtrack you've got behind you though, because the thumping electro beats match the tempo perfectly and compliment the visual design too, with constantly bright colours flying around you as you shoot your way through the universe.
With all this chaos going on we're pleased to report that the Switch handles everything perfectly well, even when bullets and explosions litter the screen. In fact, due to the short levels (of which there are 50) and the arcade style of the game it suits the Switch perfectly, especially when handheld, just like it did on the PS Vita all those years ago.
What always keeps things entertaining with Velocity 2X is that it never leaves you doing the same thing for too long; if you're in one set of environments you're soon thrown into another one. Also, when you think you've got a handle on all the controls and getting good scores, Futurlab hits you with another mechanic and button to remember, all of which slows down your pace and forces you to really practice to try and do all the actions in a good time.
Above all else it's the act of simply firing a weapon that's the most fun in Velocity 2X, and when you layer in all of the extra elements on top it just adds to the chaos, which is what Futurlab excels at. It's a great arcade game for anyone who misses the golden age of fixed shooters like Xevious, or those who just love indie bullet hell games like Enter the Gungeon. Basically it's a wonderful addition to the Switch's library that fits perfectly on the console, and we had a lot of fun trying to get the Perfect scores on each level.