Sometimes, you can’t help the memories you retain from when you were a child. There is no real explanation as to why these memories stay with you when others fade away, but for some reason, they are the ones that stick with you even when you don’t want them to.
One of those memories for me will always be the speeder bike level from Battletoads. Even though the difficulty of this level essentially prevented me from ever playing Battletoads past that infamous stage, I still recall failing at it over and over. It’s one of my most vivid gaming memories.
Now a new game has come along that manages to perfectly recreate the memories of failing at that level, for better or worse.
It’s called Barrier X, and let me tell you right now that it is going to infuriate you. The concept of the game couldn’t be more simple (you just need to maneuver your ship left and right in order to avoid red areas and the barriers they contain), but the trick lies in the execution. Just like Battletoads, your reflexes need to be perfect if you’re going to avoid a brutal demise.
Unlike Battletoads, Barrier X never feels unfair. You’re going to die over and over again in the pursuit of success, but the mechanics are airtight enough to ensure that you are responsible for your own failures as opposed to them resulting from a strange racing level trying to adhere to a 2D action game’s controls. Most importantly, there is a rhythm to the game’s levels that make it much easier to find yourself in that groove that the best high-speed games often provide.
You know what’s funny? When you remove the most frustrating elements from the concept of avoiding barriers at high speeds, it turns out the process is actually pretty enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to tear your hair out in the pursuit of that perfect run, but at least you’ll have fun in the process this time around.
Fans of reflex-based titles can find Barrier X on Steam for $2.99.