Sunday, August 25, 2013 09:02:52

Review: Ready, Steady, Bang Celebrates Pixel Art, Killer Reflexes


Remember the good old days? When men were real men, and they went around carrying handguns and fought to the death at the slightest provocation? Of course you don't – none of us were around back then. But if you'd like to capture some Old West magic in a more pixel-friendly fashion, you should try Ready Steady Bang. In the words of kkruglov, who maintains the pixel games channel:

A beautifully addictive quick-fire dueling game. Play face-to-face with a friend on a single screen or pit your trigger finger against 10 of the fastest outlaws.

Concept and Gameplay


Facing off against the phone.

It is very simple: You're a pixelated cowboy facing off against some mortal enemy. You're both armed with old-fashioned revolvers. A voice calls out "ready, steady," and, after some random interval, "bang!" As soon as you hear the bang, you have to tap the screen anywhere to shoot at your opponent. There's no aiming involved, just very fine timing. Get off a shot before your opponent manages to shoot you, and you get to watch them keel over and croak in any number of creative ways.

The game starts out quite easy, with super-sluggish opponents you can kill without even breaking a sweat. The difficulty does ramp up after a while though, and you'll soon find yourself twitching at the screen and gripping the device in all sorts of weird ways to try to reduce the number of milliseconds it takes you to tap the screen. I got it down to about 107 milliseconds from hearing "bang" to tapping the screen, though the process does start feeling eerily Pavlovian once you've been at it for a while.

You don't have to test your powers only against your phone, though: There's also a single-device multiplayer mode, wherein each player gets half the screen. Here you're up against a real, live, person, which gets much more interesting and challenging. Unlike in a real-life duel, you get a number of attempts. Also, nobody really dies.

Graphics and Sound


First round is mine!

Ready Steady Bang is all about the pixels, but while the graphics may lack in sheer resolution, the animation detail more than makes up for it. The game even features a Kill Gallery section where you can scroll through the 31 amusing and gruesome animations your opponents go through when they die. The gallery unlocks over time: You'll only be able to play back an animation after you've seen it in the real game at least once.

The game is blissfully free of any background music. This is actually important for gameplay, because you need to pay attention to the cries of "Ready, steady ... bang!" to get off a shot in time. The sound effects are well-crafted and amusing: The shot sounds good, and the yelps cowboys make as they die are funny and convincing.

A Fun Game With Annoying Ads

One of the few things that mar the game are the mega-annoying interstitial ads between screens. These don't jive with the game's careful graphics at all -- they're just low-quality ads with tiny buttons. That's really my only complaint about this otherwise-excellent title. If you enjoy reflex games and pixel art, do check out Ready Steady Bang.