Games That Time Forgot: Every Extend Extra (2006)
Tetsuya Mizuguchi has one of gaming's best track records as a producer. Space Channel 5 stands out as one of the most clever rhythm games ever made. Rez gets mentioned more than any other in the ol' are-games-art argument. Lumines almost single-handedly justified the existence of the PSP in the platform's early days.
So, by the middle of the Aughts, everybody was eagerly waiting for Mizuguchi's next title. Yet Every Extend Extra -- the game that his Q Entertainment studio finally presented in 2006 -- never gets ticked off on a list of his great accomplishments. Instead, it has wound up becoming more of a curiosity or a footnote.
The reason may lie in the fact that gamers got something radically different from Mizuguchi's previous efforts. Every Extend Extra fused elements from the puzzle and shoot-'em-up genres into something uniquely challenging. The core concept of the hybrid title didn't originate with Mizuguchi, though. He built EEE off Every Extend, an experimental freeware game made by another developer.
The final product did bear the signature Q Entertainment imprint: thumping electronic music; swirling, rave-inspired visuals and a hypnotic connection between sound and image.
The game's levels are actually dynamic, ever-mutating puzzles where your only ammunition is the enemy swarms themselves. Every Extend Extra requires you to detonate your own digital avatar, spurring on chains of enemy explosions to achieve ever-higher scores and unlock new levels. Self-detonation is rewarded with increased time and increased lives, and you collect items to ramp up the speed and difficulty.
Every Extend Extra harbors a similar level of visual abstraction as Rez; but there's no story, no attempt to have any of it make sense. More than in any of Mizuguchi's other games, it's a pure experience that you have to feel your way through.
If Rez tried to deepen a player's intuition by fusing its image, sound and gameplay, Every Extend Extra focuses on counter-intuition. Counter-intuition is blowing yourself up over and over again, wasting a life to earn more lives. Counter-intuition is learning to see a screen overcrowded with enemies as a good thing. Counter-intuition is putting the player in charge of a game's dynamic difficulty. Counter-intuition is realizing that things we know in one context can make a different kind of sense in another.
Every Extend Extra deserves to be remembered because it operates on principles that few games acknowledge. Do the counter-intuitive thing and look for it in a bargain bin today.
Check out more Games That Time Forgot.