Parents' Guide to

Graceful Explosion Machine

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Frenetic space-shooter with mild violence demands strategy.

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Find most space shoot 'em ups too challenging? Then Graceful Explosion Machine might be the game for you. The controls for moving around its two-dimensional environments couldn't be simpler, and each weapon -- aimed by pointing your ship in the direction you want to fire -- is assigned its own button. More than that, players are provided multiple lives for each set of short levels, as well as a trio of health bar pips for each of those lives. You can even replenish those pips by collecting green diamonds when they appear. It's a fair and forgiving system that ought to allow even side-scrolling space-shooter rookies to find their footing.

That said, it's not a walk in the park. Success requires players to constantly keep tabs on how much energy is left for both their blasters and special weapons and to take risks to harvest energy by diving into clouds of enemies to retrieve it. Sometimes the only way to avoid taking a hit is to nimbly thread your ship through a swarm. You will fail, and those failures will grow in frequency later in the game. But you'll likely never walk away thinking your failure was unfair. Practice is the key. A sense of repetition eventually begins to settle in -- aside from a few new enemies, what you see in the first half hour is largely what you get for the whole game -- but the core mechanics should prove gratifying enough to carry most fans of space-themed shoot-'em-ups through to the end.

Game Details

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