Metagalactic Blitz strikes a new note on what a fighting game can be
Metagalactic Blitz is an upcoming top-down fighter currently in development by Pixelvex, an independent game studio consisting of programmer Jared Cook and artist Peter Carlson. It focuses on intense dodgeball-inspired combat combined with a variety of arenas, and characters designed to be unique from the ground-up.
The rules of the game are simple; knock your opponent off the stage by attacking them with a dodgeball, while avoiding and reflecting enemy attacks. The varying stages are more than just different backdrops, they affect the gameplay by encouraging players to pay attention to elements like falling platforms and changes in layout. The upbeat electronic music composed by Matt Rottinghaus completes the game’s sci-fi atmosphere.
The game’s difficulty modes were designed to aid with the learning curve. The AI for the computer characters are given certain restraints that are unlocked as they are switched from easy, to medium, to hard, and finally, to Death Mode, which is basically playing the game dialed up to 11 and is not intended to be passable by any means.
“Hard mode is designed to teach players to be competitive online,” said Cook. “No one should be worried about how they match up against Death Mode, it was just kind of my joke! If you can consistently beat Death Mode, then it isn’t hard enough.”
Things like reflecting and certain abilities are reserved only for the more challenging difficulties. Hard mode was designed to give the impression of playing against a highly-skilled human opponent, instead of an all-powerful, yet predictable computer. This should lead to more favorable results online after practicing against the ever-ready AI Dodgebots.
From inspiration to realization to actualization
Metagalactic Blitz has been in development for almost three years, but it all began as a project in college. Cook and Carlson met at Iowa Staten University and began building a role-playing title for a capstone course. According to Cook, the game did not meet their expectations and the duo decided to retake the course, with a new vision for a more polished experience.
Their desire for perfection would lead them to create what would eventually become Metagalactic Blitz. The duo continued to work on their game after graduation, perfecting their concept until it was ready to be put through the Steam Greenlight program and was eventually released as an Early Access title on May 19, 2017.
The developers wanted to take similar physics to those in one of their favorite pastime titles — Super Smash Bros. — and apply it to an entirely new perspective. The aesthetic design of popular MOBA title League of Legends aided the developers in coming up with their own style. Originally, the balls were thrown in straight lines, but had a homing feature added to feel more engaging. This inspiration was gained from the action-indie title, TowerFall.
“The change of perspective had a huge impact on the gameplay,” said Cook. “We had to think of things that most other people making a game inspired by Smash Bros. never had to consider.”
The two developers went on to combine aspects of their favorite titles into something entirely new. The mechanics of a fighting game are all there. It’s got a rowdy cast of characters with unique abilities, and requires impeccable timing to set up your throws, dodges, and parries. Players will also find mechanics and play methods similar to traditional computer RPGs. Switching from a controller to a keyboard and mouse creates an entirely different experience for those more accustomed to the control scheme. It’s a fighter/MOBA fusion of sorts.
You can really feel the blending of genres the more you play Metagalactic Blitz, and yet, at the same time, it shifts and blooms into something new.
It’s about more than hyperactive dodgeball, it’s about making a connection
Metagalactic Blitz aims to set itself apart by creating positive social gaming experiences. One way it does this is by hosting in lobby chats between players while they pick their characters. This gives players a chance to exchange quick messages without having to open up a separate client to do so. And while other games don’t do much to add to the friendliness of friendly competition, Metagalactic Blitz implements an “Add Friend” button to its interface to bring players together. It’s all right there in the game.
“One of the main things I’ve tried to design for is a game that you can actually connect to someone with,” said Cook. “We hope that people will connect and see someone else’s playstyle that they find interesting and talk about it.”
By default, the game keeps players together instead of transferring them to a new opponent. This is done to keep the conversation going, whether it be through gameplay or through the lobby’s chat box. Cook hopes that this focus on the social space will change online competitors from being faceless opponents to familiar friends.
“My hope is that we can make a non-toxic community,” said Cook. “You can influence that a little bit with your mechanics.”
Time will tell how well these mechanics are received and if they achieve their intended goal, but Metagalactic Blitz‘s heart is in the right place.
Development is nearly complete and the team is eager for the release
Cook and Carlson have been putting in as much of their time as possible into Metagalactic Blitz all while holding down their own full-time jobs. Now that the game has gotten to its current point of polish, the feedback has been generally very positive, according to Cook. The team plans to keep working on finalizing the characters, implementing new stages, and updating the graphics until it fully launches.
“All I can ask is that players out there give it a chance,” says Cook. “There’s so much that our game has to offer. If you want something new, please check it out!”
Pixelvex has created a demo version of the game for players looking to give Metagalactic Blitz a shot. Those wanting to get a more in-depth look at the game after enjoying the demo can purchase the game as a part of the Steam Early Access program.
Pixelvex has truly delivered something that stands out among the fighting game genre. The matches are fast, fun, and best enjoyed with friends, which is something Metagalactic Blitz hopes to create more of.