No quarters necessary

For many gamers, arcades are a thing of the past. Aside from certain chain restaurants like Chuck E. Cheese’s or Dave & Buster’s, it’s damn near impossible to find a place with row upon row of arcade cabinets in America anymore.

But as soon as you start up Sixty Second Shooter Prime, you’ll feel like you’ve fallen through a vortex that puts you 30 years in the past. While bombastic colors wash over the background, the foreground is made up of a field that looks like it’s been plucked straight from Asteroids as it tries to channel everything that was great about that now-bygone era.

This follow-up to the Vita’s Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe sees players once again take control of a small spaceship (let’s be honest—it’s just a pyramid). Your lone objective? Pilot your way down through innumerable levels in “space,” all in the hopes of acquiring a higher score to move up the competitive leaderboards.

The big catch here is, as the title implies, that your life lasts only 60 fragile seconds. You can extend it by picking up special power-ups that slow down the world around you in the game’s standard mode or add seconds when playing “Infinite” mode—which, due to the time additions, means the game could theoretically last forever. You’re not guaranteed the full length of your fruit fly–esque existence, however, since enemies (most of them are just big cubes) try to prevent you from reaching each level’s goal by relentlessly pursuing and firing at you themselves. Much like how you can add or slow down time to fight the clock, though, you can also protect your little ship from your limitless enemies by picking up power-ups like missiles, bombs, invincibility shields, or gun upgrades that temporarily let you fire in eight directions at once—and you can laugh as your foes explode in a white-hot fireworks display worthy of next week’s Independence Day.

In the realm of twin-stick shooters, Sixty Second Shooter Prime is as easy to pick up and play as the best of them. You simply use the dual joysticks to move and shoot and press a button for your missiles. The issue that arises, however, is that it’s also an easy game to master. After only a few playthroughs, you’ll have unlocked all the possible power-ups, alternate game modes, different psychedelic background colors, and the ability to start from level 5 instead of the first level in the hopes of facing more enemies sooner and building up those combo multipliers for your score.

There’s also the issue where a glitch spawns you directly on top of an enemy, instantly killing you as soon as the game starts. It happened to me probably one in every 10 lives I had. If that happened in the arcade, you’d demand your quarters back. Here, it’s a little embarrassing to see that you didn’t survive more than a fraction of a second (which the game quickly points out), but at least you just have to press Start again, and you’re back to flying around in circles, blasting away at countless death cubes with only a few seconds wasted.

Here’s the major question you have to ask yourself when looking at Sixty Second Shooter Prime: How likely are you to become addicted to trying to constantly one-up your scores or your friends’ accomplishments? Thirty years ago, that would’ve been more than enough to turn this into a classic quarter-gobbler. Now, even in our ADD-addled world, 60 seconds isn’t long enough for players to really embrace a game, and I think many gamers will probably become tired of it after only an hour or two.

The good news, at least, is that it’s only $5 (20 quarters, in arcadespeak), so even if the game does last no more than two hours, you’ll probably still be getting your money’s worth if you have even the tiniest of old-school arcade itches that need scratching.

Developer: Happion Laboratories • Publisher: Happion Laboratories • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 06.18.14

Sixty Second Shooter Prime is a great throwback to the arcade machines of yesteryear, but it lacks the depth and difficulty needed for an old-school twin-stick shooter to appeal to most modern gamers.

The Good Easy to pick up and play…
The Bad …and even easier to master.
The Ugly The accidental psychedelic trance I put myself in after changing the background colors too many times.
Sixty Second Shooter Prime is an Xbox One exclusive. Microsoft provided a retail code for the benefit of this review.