GridWars

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Gridwars.GIF

GridWars is a highly strategic arcade shoot-em-up for the PC. It was created in BlitzBasic by Marco Incitti and the latest version is freely available to download from [1].

GridWars is unashamedly modelled on Geometry Wars, a hidden sub-game in Project Gotham Racing 2 for the Xbox, and its sequel, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on the Xbox 360. However, GridWars manages to surpass Geometry Wars by having a fractionally slower pace which makes the game slightly less twitch-based and vastly more tactical.

Settings

GridWars scores must be split up by difficulty setting and also by screen resolution, as a larger screen equates to an easier game. The rest of the game's settings can be set to anything you wish, though there are some obvious preferences:

  • The game is best played with a dual analogue controller, but WASD/arrow keys will also serve.
  • By default, the playing field imitates Retro Evolved by being slightly larger than your actual screen, and scrolling to follow your movement. It is preferable, however, to set the playing field to exactly match your screen resolution and turn off scrolling.

Non-standard settings for Extra Bomb and Extra Life score boundaries are generally not worth considering. Easy, Medium and Hard generally have these covered.

Friends

Friends.GIF

Your ship

Your ship has a shield around it for a brief moment when it spawns. Touching anything other than a wall or a powerup will kill you instantly.

Temporary back shooter/side shooters

These can be combined to shoot in all four directions simultaneously. They wear off individually, however.

Extra front shooter

You start with two front shooters and can upgrade as far as four. After you get to four, additional front shooter powerups will cease to spawn. It is possible for two to be on screen at once, however; if you collect a fifth front-shooter powerup, you'll get a 2000 point bonus instead.

You lose a front shooter each time you die (down to a minimum of, again, two).

Extra front shooters drastically improve your general firepower and can make the difference between successfully shooting your way through a crowd of enemies and being overwhelmed by them. You should learn to be able to judge these factors.

Extra shot speed

This increases the speed at which your shots fly. They do NOT increase the hitting power of your shots, nor the frequency at which you shoot. Extra shot speed is useful for hitting protected targets like black holes and targets which dodge, like green squares, as well as accurate shooting across longer ranges. Being able to take out a flurry of incoming enemies from further away is also an advantage.

There is no known upper limit on shot speed. You lose on shot speed powerup every time you die.

Extra player

An extra life if you die. You start with two of these and can carry up to 9 (at which point, you have to die ten times before you're actually dead). These appear every time you gain a certain amount of points (200,000 on Hard) but can also appear randomly as regular power-ups - these are like gold dust.

If you die, you lose a front shooter, one shot speed power-up, and all your other powerups, and your score multiplier will be reduced to x1. However, any bulk spawns which are going on (i.e. lots of enemies appearing at once) do NOT get halted. They may continue to spawn after the brief enemy-free pause in which your ship is resurrected.

Extra bomb

Will completely clear the screen of enemies instantly. This will gain you 0 points. Your score multiplier will also be reduced to x1, as when losing a life. The only advantage of using the bomb instead of dying is that you keep all your powerups.

If there is more than one extra bomb or extra life on the screen, it is often worth setting off a bomb to collect them.

Temporary shield

Temporary shields will protect you from collisions for a brief period of time. They shrink as time goes on to indicate that they are wearing out. It is advisable to be VERY careful when making use of these. You get a very brief temporary shield whenever you first spawn.

Super shots

Red bullets pass through anything (particularly snakes) and carry much more damage when they hit things (such as black holes or magnets). (Do they pass through black holes? Do black holes perturb them?) All red shots on the field instantly turn back to regular when this powerup wears off.

Bouncy shots

Green shots bounce off the walls. They will thus keep going forever unless they hit something. All green shots on the field instantly turn back to regular when the powerup wears off, which is handy, otherwise they might keep going forever.

Enemies

Enemies.GIF
Pinwheel and generator

Paul the Pinwheel

25 points * your current multiplier. Single shot kill. Very slow. Do not follow you in any sense but drift aimlessly across the screen. All but harmless.

Diamond and generator

Dimmy the Diamond

50 points * your current multiplier. Single shot kill. Medium speed. Follows you around. Mostly harmless.

Square and generator

Shy the Square

100 points * your current multiplier. Single shot kill. Squares are troublesome. They follow you at medium speed - BUT they are also repelled from your bullets. Simply shooting directly at them, therefore, does NOT kill them - they move out of the way unless you have a wide spread and/or are very close by. You HAVE to move and shoot to kill them.

The fact that these enemies generally behave differently from other enemies also means you will probably crash into them a lot. Switching firing direction while Squares are nearby can be problematic.

On the other hand... as Squares are repelled from your fire, if you sit PERFECTLY still, they can't touch you. At all. And, if a swarm of Squares is coming right at you from all sides, a very good way to escape is to shoot straight through them, causing them to part like waves and let you through unscathed.

Cubie the Cube

50 points * your current multiplier. Single shot kill. Medium speed. Follows you. After being shot, these explode into three much smaller cubes, which have the following attributes:

100 points * your current multiplier apiece. Single shot kill, medium speed. Follows you - sort of. Actually loops around and around while following you which makes them move unpredictably. Dangerous.

That makes a single Cube worth a minimum of 350 points. However, it also means swarms of Cubes are dangerously difficult to annihilate as they take four times as many bullets to destroy.

Sammy the Seeker/Indy the Butterfly

These two enemies are essentially identical. 10 points * your current multiplier. Single shot kill, follow you at high speed. Insultingly low score reward. In swarms, these are dangerous.

These enemies are small enough that they can actually get hidden by your glowing trail. You may end up pursued by one of these and not realising it until you stop still for a millisecond.

Dwight the Black Hole

Slow, often immobile. Black Holes start out small and are initially completely inert. If you shoot them, they become active.

Active Black Holes attract enemies. Enemies which collide with it get absorbed and the Black Holes get bigger. If it gets big enough, a Black Hole will explode, releasing a flurry of Seekers and Butterflies which will attack you.

If you shoot a Black Hole, it will shrink and eventually pop harmlessly. But the larger the Black Hole, the more powerfully it will repel your fire, so you need to go closer to it for your shots to connect. And also, the larger the Black Hole, the more powerfully it will attract you. So sitting on the edge while shooting one is dangerous. Especially as other enemies will come after you from the opposite direction.

But here's the kicker. The points value of a Black Hole is 150 + (5/2)N(N+1) points * your current multiplier, where N is the number of enemies who have fallen into the Black Hole. That number, you'll notice, goes up with the square of the number of enemies. If you let enemies fall in, then shoot the Hole back to a manageable size, and repeat, you can get up to serious scores. I mean:

  • 10 enemies = 425 points
  • 100 enemies = 25,400 points
  • 1000 enemies = 2,502,650 points

And that's before multipliers.

"Farming" Black Holes in this way is an amazingly difficult. Sudden floods of enemies or forced Bomb usage can wipe out your plump, juicy Black Holes at a moment's notice, before you have the chance to cash them in.

Other useful Black Hole facts:

  • Only at most four Black Holes will appear on your screen at any given moment.
  • Black Holes pull sparks into orbit around them too.
  • Colliding Black Holes do not swallow each other but fall into mutual "orbits". They can get effectively obscured by sheer volume of sparks in situations like this. Destroying one orbiting Black Hole releases the other(s) tangentially at potentially high speed and can therefore be risky.

Selena the Snake

100 points * your current multiplier. These innocent geometric creatures spawn simply to wander about the grid. Unfortunately, in great enough numbers, they can be quite a bother, as their bodies are both the length of about 4 of your ship and impervious to normal bullets (Super Shot bullets will pass through), so you're forced to destroy them. Snakes travel at a speed slightly lower than yours, and in a completely random path. One shot to the head is all it takes to bring snakes down.

Ivan the Interceptor

100 points * your current multiplier. Pure evil. Interceptors move FASTER than you do and they DO home in on you. They also have a FORCE FIELD at the front which can absorb about five of your shots before they are destroyed. At close range, this makes taking them on directly impossible.

However. They can't turn and move at the same time. So if you wiggle a bit, or simply pull a U-turn when they get nearby, they will stop on the spot briefly and line up in pursuit of you again. And... the force field only works at the front. From the side or behind, they are single-hit-kills. The trick, then, is to get them EARLY, before they get your "scent", and otherwise to dodge fast.

Interceptors on your screen generally instantly become your number one priority.

Trish the Triangle

150 points * your current multiplier. Individually, these are single-hit-kills and follow you rather slowly. However, two unattached Triangles which meet each other will spontaneously sprout a join between them, which acts like a spring.

You can't pass through the join, which makes a fleet of paired Triangles a seriously daunting proposition, as they complicate the playfield hugely. Shooting either Triangle pushes that Triangle and indirectly pushes the pair.

The join is invulnerable but pumping enough bullets into the Triangle at either end will sever it, hopefully for long enough for you to shoot them both and stop the join forming again (which can happen sometimes).

Phenomena

Single spawn

This is when a single enemy randomly appears on the playing field.

Blizzard

This is when a large number of identical enemies spawn all over the playing field at once. These can be dangerous as you can rapidly be engulfed unless you create yourself a safe spot somehow.

Swarm

This is when a large number of identical enemies spawn in roughly the same place. Usually this is a single corner. Sometimes it is all four corners at once. Sometimes it is your location.

Like blizzards, swarms take time to fully appear. Four-corner swarms of Butterflies or Seekers which go on for a very long time can become problematic as you get to the point where you are trapped against a wall with solid boundaries of enemies closing in on you from every direction, and not enough firepower to escape. This is one of the few occasions when you will have no choice but to die or use a Bomb.

Swarms centred on you are if anything more dangerous. As soon as enemies start spawning around you, you really do have to react VERY fast, instinctively even, if you want to escape. In most cases the trick to escaping is to pick a direction and MOVE FAST - ideally the current direction you're currently shooting, as that way will already be mostly clear. For Squares there's no need to panic, just hold still, choose a direction, and the Squares will move out of the way. For Snakes, wait to see which direction they all go before trying to move.

External links