Flash Game Review: Project Inthri 3
by Polly

Before I delve into this game, let's have a little bit of a history lesson, shall we?

Flash SHOOTAN GAEMS can almost all be predicted to be a mixed bag of disappointment and mediocrity. There's rarely ever a balance between good and bad, it's more of a question of what sucks and what sucks just a tiny bit less. The main flaw with these games is that the people making them seem to lack the knowledge of what makes for a satisfying and interesting gaming experience. If you happen to browse around the shooter section at Newgrounds, you'll find TONS of games that all have SOME potential or SOME kind of redeeming quality that gets completely overshadowed and squashed by horrible gameplay design. More often than not, you'll find a game that looks fantastic (at first), but feels like your little ship is swimming through a bowl of shit while being puked at by the same cut and paste enemies. The backgrounds never change (even if they look great), the music doesn't fit at all, the controls are lagged all to fuck (no seriously, whose fucking idea was it to make your ship LAG BEHIND THE GOD DAMN MOUSE MOVEMENT?), and the enemies all just fly straight at you and (maybe) shoot. They all feel like they've been built off the same cut and paste code from a tutorial site with some shiny new GRAFFIX thrown on to appease the Newgrounds crowd. Some Flash authors DO take chances and I've seen some interesting power-up systems and scoring mechanisms, but ultimately it falls back on the author not quite getting how to keep their game entertaining while the player is actually PLAYING it.

Rhete's SHOOTAN GAEMS series, Project Inthri got its humble start in 2003 with the first game in the series of the same name. To get it out of the way, yes, the first game hasn't aged well and feels a bit cumbersome with the lagged shooting mechanics, but this game planted the seeds for what the series would evolve into. It brings to the table dynamic backgrounds which keep each stage interesting giving them unique and exciting identities. Most shooters before it (and after it, honestly) simply featured one static background per stage. Project Inthri also introduced boss fights that actually felt like boss fights and not just some upgraded form of the same enemy you were fighting in the stage. It also featured a hand-picked soundtrack of tunes that actually fit the game and not the generic techno shit you hear in every other shooter. So, for its time, Project Inthri was a fairly advanced piece of work in terms of what people were doing with Flash games.

Project Inthri

Project Inthri

Two years later would see the release of Project Inthri 2, which nixed all of the flaws that were present in the first game, took everything that was good about it and ramped it up to a whole new level. PI2 also saw the addition of some fun new features and improvements that once again pushed it to being not only one of the best Flash shooters of the time, but still quite enjoyable today.

PI2 was an improvement over the original in all aspects. As a whole the game looks much better with backgrounds, enemies, and bosses all having a more refined and detailed look to them. Enemies pack a good bit of variety in both appearance and methods of attack and the action is much faster paced. It can all prove quite challenging, but the addition of checkpoints keep it from ever becoming a frustrating affair. Most important of the additions is PI2's weapon power-up system which includes four unique weapons, all useful in almost every situation.

Project Inthri 2 is just an overall bad-ass shooter that you need to play. You will not be sorry.

Project Inthri 2

Project Inthri 2

Which gets us all caught up and brings us to 2008 and the release of Project Inthri 3. (I still think it should have been named Project N3 loller!) I had a bit of an inside-look at this game as it was being created and first-hand saw the madness that it brought to its creator. But sometimes madness that ensues can bring about some very surprising results.

PI3 takes even more graphical leaps over its predecessors with backgrounds being even more colorful and exciting than before. The colors used in the opening stage, the desert area in stage 2, and the intense space battle raging on behind the player in stage 4 are just some of the standouts, but none of the stages look bad or even average. Though normal stage enemies lack the brighter colors of those in PI2, they still stand out and look good, getting their job of blowing the fuck up when you shoot them done effectively. Mid-bosses and Stage bosses are a treat, coming in a large variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and quite a few having some really nicely done animation work on them. Seriously, by the time you reach the end of the game you'll know what I mean.

The audio department is just as on point as it's ever been. The music is once again hand-picked from various other games, but when used here the tracks really help bring out the intensity that this game offers. Sound effects are subtle but effective and are perfectly mixed with everything else going on around them. The big highlight this time around though, is the addition of voice acting to the story. I know that might seem quite cringe-worthy to a lot of people, but the people pulled in to play the roles of your wingmen and enemies really are quite skilled and neither sound bored or over-act their parts. Hearing your team banter back and forth gives off a StarFox 64 type vibe which is a-okay with me.

Gameplay-wise, the nixing of the power-up system from PI2 may be a bit disappointing to some, but PI3 is a much different game. Where Project Inthri and Project Inthri 2 are slower and more methodical, Project Inthri 3 is much more chaotic, hellaciously fast-paced, and reflex-intensive. Your ship fires a constant barrage of lasers just by holding the fire button and it's your job to stay alive by mowing down the enemy forces and getting the fuck out of the way when those 7-10 bullets are headed toward your face. It can and will seem overwhelming as you progress through the game, but it's evenly paced and fair. You won't hit a brick wall as soon as you enter a new stage. The game only asks you to get a bit better every time you advance. And if things are still too difficult, the game has four difficulty settings that should be more than enough to keep the game as easy or as hard as you need it to be to just survive or be challenged to the point of madness. And if you ever need a break from the intensity, the game sports the ability to save your game via a cookie, so you can always jump right back in to the stage you just unlocked if you need to.

And hey, if things are STILL too much for you, why not bring a friend along? Yes! Project Inthri 3 is a TWO PLAYER FLASH SHOOTER FUCK YES! Player one controls FX with the mouse, while player 2 controls Ether with the keyboard using arrows or WASD movement and a number of pre-set fire buttons to keep everybody comfortable. You might be thinking that players using the keyboard may be at a slight disadvantage and this has been balanced as well, as player 2's shots are larger and easier to hit enemies with. And there's no need to worry about player deaths turning this into a one player game, because at every checkpoint any dead player will be instantly revived with full health. This keeps things fun for everyone, so you're never out of the game too long. You need to try playing this game on 2 player mode at least once. It's a riot.

Two player mode is a great technical feature for a Flash game anyway, but PI3 doesn't stop there. There are so many great technical accomplishments this game has that will really wow you the first time you see them. The way AI teammates actually do some work without being too helpful or overall useless and special bosses that react in interesting ways to the player's actions. A neat area in Stage Four that's just too damn cool and intense to not enjoy and a mini-boss in Stage Five also deserve mention. To list all the awesome things you're going to see here would ruin it, but just trust me when I say you're in for a lot of really cool shit.

Project Inthri 3 isn't a Flash game. It very well goes beyond the medium and honestly feels like something more. Something you should be able to buy on XBOX Live Arcade or somewhere so it gets more attention. You can really see that a lot of crazy hard work went into creating PI3. Flash programmers need to learn a thing or two from this game. So GO PLAY THE FUCKIN THING! And if you're a member of Newgrounds go give the damn thing a 5.

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