PAX East Hands On: Retro/Grade

By Tim Lanning on

About Tim Lanning

Tim founded GeeklyInc with Michael DiMauro way back in 2013 when they realized they had two podcasts and needed a place to stick them. Since then, Geekly has grown and taken off in ways Tim could have never imagined.


It is not often that someone recognizes my Herculean skills as soon as I press start in a video game, but Retro/Grade chose to honor me. As you start out you kill the final boss of a space invasion to save the earth. Credits roll as this mighty beast falls before you and a temporal anomaly in space and time opens. Before you can say “celebratory parade” you are forced to “replay” your victorious conquest in reverse. I am a spaceship artist so this challenge did not phase me. 

When you first see Retro/Grade you assume it is a standard shoot-em-up but then you notice that bullets are coming from both directions of the screen and the ship is purposely connecting with half of them. Then, more importantly, you notice the game is being played with a guitar. It is a truly unique game and it justifies the plastic toys that you have scattered about your living room.

Since your piloting skills were almost too good in defeating the invading enemy you are now tasked with reliving all of your previous battles, only this time your goal is to keep the space-time continuum intact. Travelling backwards through time means that you need to avoid paradoxes by ensuring that you pilot your ship in the path of your previously fired shots. They come down lanes just like in Rock Band or Guitar Hero so you should feel at home if you already own a guitar for either of those games. To further complicate things you must ensure that enemy shots that missed you in the past reach the enemy ships that fired them in your new reverse-present.

If you miss too many of your shots or you get hit by enemy shots you thankfully are able to wham (?) on the whammy bar to make time go forward again giving you a second chance. Retro/Grade starts off easy, think the beginning songs in Rock Band, then adds more complex shot patterns and additional mechanics. Eventually, you will be able to unfire missiles or energy beams. Again, the presentation is stunning.

It is hard to describe, but Retro/Grade plays amazingly well. The soundtrack is heavy on the electronica but you are also building it as you collect your previously fired shots or avoid the enemy’s past-attacks. The whole thing simply works on several levels. Be sure to check it out when it comes out on PSN sometime in our forward moving future.

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