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Freeware Friday: Every Extend


Welcome to Freeware Friday, a weekly column showcasing excellent games that you can play free of charge!

For those who have a PSP or Xbox 360, you may recognize the game Every Extend Extra (Or Every Extend Extra Extreme, in the 360's case). It's a cheap, addictive arcade-styled shooter that pulls people in with trippy graphics and a trance-inspired soundtrack. However, what most people do not realize is that Every Extend Extra was originally Every Extend, a freeware PC game released through the internet. Much like Cave Story, Every Extend found new life out there in the wilds of the console lands. But for those wanting some simple puzzle-shooter mash-up action, look no further than the original. After all, it's free! Can't get better than that.
Every Extend is based around an interesting idea: what if your damaging abilities tied directly into your life? In the case of Every Extend, this manifests as the ability to explode in order to destroy other things. Thus, in order to progress, you must lose your lives, and if you lose all of them, you get a big fat game over.. It's a system that forces the player to balance risk and reward in such a way that they can actually finish the game. After all, when you must fail in such a way that you win, it's easy to make mistakes and simply lose.

The way you end up getting your lives, or stock, back is by utilizing chains to drastically increase your score. Whenever you explode, it will destroy enemies near you. These enemies will then also explode, destroying enemies near to them. This creates a large chain of explosions, with larger chains giving you more points per enemy destroyed. Once you reach a score marker, you receive another stock, which lets you continue on your merry way. You start with ten stocks, but if you do not get large chains right from the very start, that can go down extremely fast.

Enemies are divided into five types, and there are two possible bosses for you to fight at the end of the game. Anything except a power-up touching your ship will instantly kill you. The types correspond directly to the power-ups you can obtain as well. Did we mention there were power-ups? Of course there are power-ups! This is an arcade game, after all, and you can't have arcade games without power-ups. These enemy types and power-ups correspond as follows:

  • White enemies are the basic enemy. They do nothing except explode when another explosion touches them, regardless of the source. They are the most numerous, and chances are the majority of your chains will start by destroying a white enemies. They travel in clusters of three or five.
  • Blue enemies are your primary scoring enemy. Why is this? It is because blue enemies drop the bonus power-ups, which give you more points. These points, naturally, go into getting you your next stock. Blue enemies travel in the middle of flocks of white enemies, so you will always catch them in a chain.
  • Red enemies only ever travel alone, and are worth the standard amount of points. What makes them special is that they drop a power-up that allows you to move faster. This is incredibly useful because, as you get farther along, you will be required to weave through more complex patterns.
  • There are other enemies that are just like you... sort of. These enemies act as a sort of time bomb, storing an explosion and then releasing it much larger a few second later. As is, you can not chain with them, but they do offer you the unique ability to chain twice: once to trigger the bomb, and the next from the subsequent explosion. They are brownish with white lines neatly segmenting each face of the cube into quarters.
  • The last enemy are the only kind that shoot intentionally. These enemies are a set of two rotating crosses (the plus sign, not the religious symbol) and fire in slow, gentle curves. They normally appear alone, and are normally harmless as it is extremely easy to dodge the shots. However, when there are lots of enemies on the screen, they can be extremely dangerous. They drop the most coveted power up: time extend. This extends your current time and gives you more chance to create chains and earn points. These guys are, therefore, the most important enemy to destroy.

These enemies all appear in the two difficulty modes: light and heavy. Light does not have bomb enemies and the end boss is relatively easy, while heavy has more enemies, all enemies available to destroy, bullets released upon the death or any non-white enemy, and a harder end boss. Really, though, there's not a whole lot of difference between the two difficulties once you start playing. This leads to a lack of replayability, but if you enjoy simple arcade fun, there's no worries about replaying this!

The graphics and music of Every Extend are entrancing. The graphics are simple but effective, with bright colors and geometric shapes, and one of the coolest things to notice is how moving your ship affects its rotation (check it out sometime). The music is just as nice, with two simple, yet addictive, electronic songs: one for each difficulty. The sound effects are excellent too, with the announcer calling out things like "Max Chain" and the explosions being suitably meaty.

Every Extend is a unique game, especially in light of its emergence into the retail world. It took a familiar concept and turned it on its head, creating an excellent balance of fun and challenge for any willing to play. In a way, it is a game like Blocksum: distill the genre, and then infuse new life into it by taking a new tack. You can download Every Extend at CNet. There is no official page for the original game, but there is one for the sequels.

For another look at freeware games, take a peek at Joystiq's Free Game Club weekly feature!

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