Developer: Contagious Games
Genre: Action & Adventure
Available On: XBLIG
Co-Op Mode: Local (4 players)
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes
A few minutes into Contagious Games’ Plague, one almost gets the feeling that the team responsible for this game had an idea. What if we could relive the days of Contra where the heroes find themselves in the worlds of many of the popular game franchises of yore and modern day? Certainly there have been some other games that have attempted this, and it is definitely a bit of a risk to dabble into the territory of parody, but Plague manages to walk that fine line of paying tribute without over doing it.
What leads the heroes to find themselves in this ever-changing landscape of gaming tropes? As it turns out, the world will eventually succumb to the ultimate computer virus, and all of our computers, gaming consoles, and other electronic devices are powerless to stop it; except for one, lone virus protection software program. This stolid defender is set to preserve and restore the most important of all programs out there: games. Unleashing its 4 anti-viral programs into the vast electrical world, Beta, RAM, Glitch, and Reboot set out to wipe out the virus with guns, bullets, black holes, and explosions [Editor Morbo’s Note: ANTI-VIRAL PROGRAMS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!]
Each level begins with a little dialogue between the 4 programs, with Beta assuming the strong, lead female character role, RAM the slow-witted, lumbering brute, Glitch is the silent one, and Reboot covers the snark. There’s usually some form of observation about their current surroundings with a little tongue-in-cheek humor (which actually reminds me of another co-op platformer, The Lost Vikings), before the action begins. Getting from the start to the finish, and killing everything in your way, entails running, jumping, shooting, and meleeing, picking up the occasional special gun, such as a rapid-fire assault rifle or a black hole gun; there’s even a gun that fires a centipede (from the game of the same name) that can be controlled and directed into enemies. While the game plays decently single player, it’s obvious from the very first stage that Plague is a cooperative affair.
Throughout many of the stages, foes will come pouring in from both sides of the screen. This would normally just prove a bit of a challenge for solo play, but because of the game’s mechanics, it actually becomes impossible to get out unscathed. While players can duck and jump, ducking doesn’t get your avatar low enough to avoid enemy fire, and the bullets move too quickly to avoid them all by jumping. So, what players are left with is using a bit of strategy to distract and engage the foes as a team. One player can get the enemies’ attention and draw fire while the others fill them with bullets. This same strategy applies to the bosses, as well, for many of them use attacks that are hard to avoid in single play. Fortunately, each player has a life bar and three lives to spare, and in cooperative play, so long as one player is alive, the others are free to hop right back in to the action. New players can even join in as the game supports drop-in/drop-out co-op.
As I mentioned at the beginning, when playing even a little bit of Plague, you pick up on the game’s influences from the run ‘n gun shooters of the NES/Genesis days. While Plague doesn’t have quite the same shine and balance as they did, it does capture that cooperative spirit that made them great.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with up to three friends locally to run, gun, and jump in order to save games from being wiped out by a malicious virus
Plague is Geared Towards: Run ‘n gun enthusiasts that are looking for a great drop-in/drop-out co-op experience