Microsoft’s XNA is, for many indies, the only option when it comes to developing a console game. For Mike Hanson, who develops under the name Psychotic Psoftware, this was certainly the case — his solely-developed shmup Power Up has been made using XNA in hope of fulfilling his childhood ambition to develop a console game. In light of the recent announcement that Microsoft will be retiring the XNA software, Mike’s Kickstarter campaign was unfortunately timed, but that doesn’t make it any less of an attractive proposition.
Power Up is a shoot-‘em-up slated for release on Xbox 360, with a PC release coming afterwards. As touched upon above, Psychotic Psoftware is effectively a one-man operation, and it has to be said that the game is looking mightily impressive for a solo project. In the Kickstarter description, Mike mentions that he wanted to move away from traditional pixel art and chiptunes, implementing a more modern sense of aesthetic whilst sticking to the purity of retro gameplay. Personally, I can understand the reasoning behind this decision — pixel art and chiptune music are incredibly common in indie games right now, so it’s refreshing to see something different.
As you can see in the video above, the art style that Mike has opted for in Power Up is very clear and crisp, a far cry from the pixel art with which the genre is synonymous. Mike’s work outside of Psychotic Psoftware is as a games artist, so it is no surprise that the artwork in this game is very appealing. The boss design is particularly impressive. Furthermore, the music in the trailer is distinctly more modern-sounding than traditional chiptune fare, and there is a suggestion that the music gets far more diverse than this too. In his Kickstarter info, Mike describes the game’s soundtrack as “juicy sequenced, sampled music which combines big beats with choir and orchestral score.”
At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has found £1,144 of its £5000 target with 22 days of funding remaining. It’s going strong so far, and hopefully the game will achieve its goals, as it looks like one to watch for fans of shoot-‘em-ups. The funding tiers are very generous too, and it costs a mere £2 ($3 approx) to secure a copy of the game for PC. However, if you want to show stronger support, higher funding tiers offer your name in the credits, the game’s soundtrack, and even hand-drawn concept art! From what we’ve seen thus far, Power Up is a game well worth supporting.