21st Apr2017

PLAY Expo Leeds 2017: ‘Space Toads Mayhem’ Preview

by Phil Wheat

This past weekend Replay Events, one of the UK’s premier gaming and event entertainment companies and the driving force behind PLAY Expo Blackpool AND Manchester (both events that team Nerdly have attended in the past), added another Northern event to their roster: PLAY Expo Leeds, an all-day gaming celebration taking place which took place at Leeds United Football Club’s Centenary Pavillion on Sunday April 16th.

Of course the PLAY Expo events are all about playing games – be it pinball, arcade games or consoles, be they retro or modern. But one of the big draws, at least for us here at Nerdly, is the Indie Game section, which allows independent developers to show off their games – be they finished or prototype; receive feedback for attendees; and see just how well the games they’ve devoted their time to are received… And you’re guaranteed to find a hidden indie game gem at each and every PLAY Expo event. This year however the indie gems were in abundance – so we thought we’d break down some of the best games we played, including the awesome shmup Space Toads: Mayhem

Space Toads: Mayhem

space-toads-mayhem-screen

Space Toads: Mayhem is a retro-esque shoot ‘em up – from developer Lukasz Snopkiewicz – that pays homepage to the classic shmups from the 1980s. From the gameplay to the graphics, everything about Space Toads scream retro! However what ISN’T retro about this indie game is the fact that you will never play the same game twice… Yes, unlike shmups of old there’s no way you can learn the patterns of the enemies in the game. Which makes Space Toads: Mayhem all that much harder. The enemies also have a personality: simple emotional states are implemented which affect how enemies behave; and in turn how they choose to attack the player after being spawned. The version we tried out at PLAY Expo Leeds featured 10 waves, each one getting progressively harder than the last. Starting out with enemies that ignore you, meaning you have to chase them rather than they chase you; each level sees the enemies change tact. So much so that as you approach the final wave(s) the enemy ships get more and more manic, chasing you around the screen to your death!

But to help you on your quest Space Toads: Mayhem features that greatest of shmup traditions, the power up. And boy are the power-ups of this game something to behold! With titles like Space Spikes, Mega Death Sun (which I was lucky enough to obtain) and Vicious Red Hole, the power-ups do severe damage to your enemies, often times wiping them out completely. However… as you progress through the level and the difficulty increases, good power-ups become harder to find and instead booby trap power-ups appear: in fact I hit one such power-up and lost my weapons for a good 30 seconds, which could be lethal in a game as frantic and fast-paced as this.

According to the games Steam Greenlight page (where I urge you to cast your vote to get this onto Steam ASAP), Space Toads: Mayhem will offer 3 modes:

  • Campaign: including some silly storyline elements and varied levels to beat.
  • Arcade: 1 endless level – it’s all about surviving the longest and getting the highest score.
  • Hardcore: evolution of the arcade mode, designed for the seasoned coin-op veterans. Removed power-ups and maxed out difficulty are on the menu.

Couple these with what I experienced at PLAY Expo Leeds and Space Toads: Mayhem will be a day-one purchase for me. Here’s hoping the greenlight campaign comes to fruition.

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