Posted on July 11, 2008,

XBLA Hors D’oeuvres: Schizoid

Since I wasn’t the one who wrote any of the three previous stories about Schizoid, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I started up the game. I decided to forgo looking at any of the game’s instructions and jumped right into the game, which turned out to be a good decision.

In Schizoid, you control one (or two) ship that is either red or blue. Enemies will appear throughout the stage which you have to destroy, but with an Ikaruga-like twist: the blue ship can only destroy blue enemies by running into them, and likewise for red. Enemies of the other color can destroy you, so the two ships need to work together to take out enemies and keep them off your partner’s back (whether that’s another player, the CPU, or even you, if you think you’re good enough to control both ships). The game starts off fairly slow, but after a few levels, one of the challenges presented to me completely won me over with the game’s unique co-op play.

Normally, I’m more than hesitant to believe any of the claims you see in press releases or on official game websites. But Xbox.com‘s description that “No other multiplayer co-op game has such tight cooperative gameplay,” it means it. That’s not to say it’s the single greatest co-op game ever, but it does use the red-and-blue concept in a brilliant way.

The first level is extremely basic and is followed with a message telling you that you’re not crazy, the game really only requires you to use the analog stick. A few more levels went by without much of a fuss, and then I was faced with a level with four stationary red targets. Playing the blue guy, I assumed I had nothing to do, but then I saw that the sentries were shooting out little blue dots in all directions. I went and acted as a shield for my red CPU teammate, and it drove right in and took out the red enemy. It sounds very simple on paper, but in a world of co-op games that rarely require tactics as complicated as flanking, this struck me as being a supremely cool usage of your teammate.

Schizoid looks very cool, too. It looks and feels a lot like flOw with more vibrant colors. That is most certainly meant as a compliment, as I think flOw is one of the most interesting games — from an aesthetic point of view — in quite some time.

Much like Golf: Tee It Up, which also came out this week on Xbox Live Arcade, this is a perfect game for the platform. It’s not overly complicated and is ideal for a quick pick-up-and-play session, and being able to play online makes this a must-buy for me. I highly implore you to check it out, because this is a very unique game to the Xbox 360.

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