*Signature Selection* – Today’s Free Game Signature Selection titles are the best of the best. Despite being completely free, they’re as good (or better) than many of the retail games that sell for $10, $30, or sometimes even $60. They’re longer, display more polish, and have more heart than the vast majority of free games out there, and MUST be played.
The Scoop: rRootage is the absolute best kind of free game. It isn’t great “for a game made by one guy,” or great “for a game released for free.” It’s great, period. No qualifiers necessary. I own dozens of $10 downloadable titles on my Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii, and rRootage contains more value than nearly all of them.
Like Warning Forever, rRootage is a 2D shooter consisting of nothing but a series of boss encounters. No scrolling stages, or enemy waves. Just your ship, lots and lots of insane bullet patterns to dodge, and a boss at the top of the screen to destroy.
What I love most about rRootage is that it has four modes of play, each one copying a different popular shooter franchise. Ika mode imitates Ikaruga. Enemies will fire white or black bullets, and you can swap the color of your ship to absorb either one type of the other. Psy mode imitates Psyvariar, which allows you to deal more damage when “grazing” as close as possible to enemy bullets. GW mode apes Gigawing, in that you can charge-up and unleash a temporary shield that reflect bullets back at the boss. Lastly, Normal mode doesn’t imp any specific game – your Special just clears bullets from the screen, giving you some breathing room.
What sets rRootage apart from other free shooters, and earns its position as a TFG Signature Selection, is that each of these four modes contains 50 stages. For a grand total of 200 unique levels to make your way through. Each one with their own unique bullet patterns.
With so many stages, the increase in challenge is very gradual. You can select any stage at any time. If you were to hop into a late-game level right from the start, you would likely be annihilated. But by starting at the beginning and working your way up, it becomes very satisfying to see each mode’s stages get checked off one by one. Each stage is only the smallest amount more difficult than the one that preceded it, so it’s motivating to know that if you cleared that, you can clear this new challenge too, with a little practice.
Kenta Cho has other brilliant 2D shooters that we’ll eventually profile, but I advise you to not rush through rRootage to get to them. The game’s bullet patterns are subtle and clever in ways they might not initially appear to be. What initially seems like an incoherent and impossible mess of bullets is always an actual, discernible pattern that quick-thinking and observant gamers can conquer. Satisfying.