i’ve waited years to be able to say that genetos is finished. that may be appropriate, because genetos is about the history of the shooting game, from its inception as a digital analogue to mechanical shooting galleries to its current manifestation as a colorful bullet lightshow with systems upon systems for players to learn.
the game uses the structure of the shooting game to tell that history. the power-ups that have become such an intrinsic part of shooting games here represent design trends. the first power-up, for example, is the ability to move vertically. the game’s stages represent different phases of design: from the static screen of a space invaders game to a simple scrolling shooter like xevious to a narrative shooter like rayforce to something that evokes both ikaruga and rez.
what’s interesting is that by framing the history of shooters like this, genetos suggests that this kind of game may have reached an evolutionary cul-de-sac. in contemporary shooters, contrivances are piled on top of what is one of videogames’ simplest formulas (a message is sent; if the player is skillful, it is received) to cater to an audience that has played this game a thousand times before and demands a more difficult experience, alienating everyone else.
genetos is in fact not a hard game. although the stages are appropriately difficult to reflect the trend of complexity in shooters, the game on its default level of difficulty is generous with extra ships. it’s an acknowledgement that seeing the whole story, here, is more important than manipulating systems, and possibly a suggestion to other authors if they’re interested in there being a next generation.