Game Jolt Page
NOTE: The developer’s own site no longer exists so the online high score tables and in-game links to their site will not work.
V Prototype is an inventive, small shmup which, contrary to the genre’s name, does not allow you to shoot things. There are ten short stages available and with no boss fights and two difficulty settings (the higher of which only adds in a certain enemy to stages without really changing much) this game really does feel light on content and does not offer much in the way of replayability beyond trying to achieve a high score. That said, the core mechanics go a long way and every single stage introduces a new hazard or two, often while putting a new twist on an old one.
You may not be able to shoot in V Prototype, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have an attack. Left clicking allows you to send out a brief pulse in a small area around the ship and any enemies which touch this pulse will turn white and gain a clock hand which will cause the enemy to explode after making a full cycle. Since the pulse does not stretch out very far, you have to constantly get much closer to enemies to attack them than you would in most shmups and enemies are frequently positioned in such a way that you definitely need to destroy them quickly to avoid taking damage. The delayed explosion isn’t just for show either as enemies will still attack and cause damage upon contact until the moment of their destruction.
This concept of delay does not only apply to the way your attack functions and extends itself to the level design and the scoring system as well. In addition to giving points upon exploding, enemies grant points the moment they hit based upon how many are caught in a single pulse. The ship’s pulse has a short cooldown on it, but it also lasts for about half a second and you can still move around while using it. As a result, the best way to get a high score is to wait for as many enemies as possible to be on the screen and near each other so you can catch them with a single pulse. The path through a stage is also often cut in half with hazards or rewards, often in the form of gems worth a fixed value of twenty-five points, only becoming visible at the very last moment, which encourages you to hold out for as long as possible before narrowly avoiding a wall to choose a side. Enemies often are placed in such a way that they form of wall and the delayed deaths make for some intense moments as it is not necessarily clear upon hitting an enemy if you have done so quickly enough to avoid taking a hit from it. V Prototype ends up feeling like a constant game of chicken where the best rewards are gained from tensely waiting until the last moment, but failing to immediate act at that point in time will inevitably result in damage or death (or a significant loss of scoring potential at the very least).
Though often short, the stages themselves are of particular note. There isn’t much in the way of variety to the aesthetics and nothing at all in the way of plot, but the elements present work together to create a neat and very literal take on ‘cyberspace’ with touches such as blocks containing 0’s and 1’s and bits of code briefly showing up when starting stages or collecting items. A particularly nice piece of visual flair which also ties into the gameplay is that the blocks which make up the architecture of these stages sometimes come from behind the player or from both the front and back simultaneously, resulting in a sense of area variation not present within the graphics themselves. Each stage often focuses upon the introduction of a new enemy or mechanic, such as teleporters which can be transferred to by right clicking on them, circles which must be hit with a pulse to cause connected blocks to explode a few seconds later, and tick-like enemies which cause hazardous explosions upon death, explosions which can destroy walls and chain together to cause other tick enemies to explode. Every stage also has three gold medals to collect, though these don’t seem to actually do anything beyond giving a point boost and unlocking achievements. It is also worth mentioning that the game can be played through both via stage select and as a full run, though there is not much difference between the two outside of score tables as the only penalty for losing all three of your lives in a full run of the game is being sent back to the start of the current stage with a slight hit to your score.
V Prototype ultimately doesn’t have quite enough depth to its scoring system to really incentivize you to replay stages and the difficulty is lenient enough that most players will likely see everything it has to offer within the span of an hour. Still, the gameplay is unique and polished enough to create an interesting and entertaining experience worth checking out despite its length and general lack of replayability.