Title: Noiz2 ver. 0.21
Developer: ABA Games (Kenta Cho)
Publisher: ABA Games (freeware)
Date Published: 21 September 2002
Platforms: Java applet
High Score: 7,982,650 (Endless Mode)

A simple yet remarkably addictive vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up videogame written in Java, designed to be run directly through a web browser. The playing area is 240x320 pixels. The player controls a 1x1 pixel ship that directly corresponds to the movement of the mouse cursor. Enemy 'spacecraft' (represented by rotating wireframe cubes of different size and colour) spawn into the playing area and travel towards the bottom*. Unlike most shmups, you do not fire a steady stream of bullets- instead, you have a targeting beam projected directly upward from your location. When the beam intersects with the centre of an enemy, your ship launches a missile which is guaranteed to hit the target (although there is a small time delay as it travels toward it). There is no limit to the rate at which you can fire, so sweeping across the screen will wipe out several enemies about a second after you have done so (although some enemies require several missiles to destroy outright).

The challenge (and what a challenge) comes from the barrage of bullets that the enemies rain down on you. Shortly after materialising, an enemy will fire a spread of shots in one of many patterns. If there are a few enemies on screen then the player is rapidly inundated with shots to dodge - the so-called 'bullet hell' beloved of hardcore shooter fans. However, if an enemy is destroyed, the explosion causes all the bullets within a short distance of the vanquished foe to be transformed into bonus items- small green X's that float slowly down the screen, and are sucked up by your ship if you get close enough to them. Destroying an enemy immediately after they have launched a volley of shots will yield a large cluster of these bonus items.

Each bonus item collected increments a 'multiplier' counter, which causes subsequent X's to be worth more points (up to a limit of 1,000). Each bonus item that disappears off the top of the screen without being collected halves the multiplier, discouraging the player from randomly swooping around blasting enemies. At any point in the game you must chose between the strategies of wiping out as many enemies as possible, concentrating on surviving the bullet storm, or risking your neck to reach bonus items (which are the only way to really boost your score enough to gain the 100,000 points needed to earn each extra life). The game offers nine preset courses that have the same enemies and patterns each time you play them, and a much more engaging 'Endless' mode that selects waves and shot patterns at random, although with increasing difficulty.

There are three basic styles of enemy in the game: small ('zako') enemies that can be killed with one shot, and usually materialise in groups with the same shot pattern; medium ('middle') enemies that require several shots to kill and have much more formidable attacks; and large ('boss') enemies that appear every ten waves or so, require dozens of shots to kill and spray the entire screen with bullets.

The really intriguing thing about Noiz2 is that all of the shot patterns are defined in a special scripting language- a subset of XML called BulletML. ABA Games' website provides tools (Bulletsmorph) and documentation for developing your own shot patterns that can then be inserted in this or any other BulletML-based game. The XML files included with the Noiz2 source code indicate that some of the patterns are based on ones seen in Psyvariar, Progear no Arashi, G-Darius, Ikaruga, and Guwange. This robust (some might say obsessive) framework, should it gain popularity, has obvious potential for the development and third-party modification of future shoot-'em-up games.

Noiz2 is unquestionably one of the best Java games I have seen. I definitely recommend it to anyone with a steady hand and a reliable pointing device.

Play the game


Other games in the series

  • Noiz - based around dodging geometric shapes instead of shooting.
  • Noiz2sa - an enhanced version of Noiz2, this time written for Microsoft Windows.
*except for the ones that swoop round and travel towards the top. Etc.

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