Infernal Racket is built around such a comical concept that it couldn’t exist as anything but a retro-style arcade game. You play as a mischievous demon on a mission to steal a priceless diamond, and must evade monsters while breaking dishware to progress through each level. I’m not sure why a bunch of monsters are guarding a diamond or why you need to break anything in the first place, but any game that involves breaking objects is instantly a must-play in my book.
While shattering tonnes of porcelain isn’t the sole component of Infernal Racket’s gameplay, it stands as the main appeal. Each level has an exit that only unlocks once a certain percentage of objects are destroyed, and simply touching most items will break them in one shot. Levels are chosen randomly, where your ultimate goal is to get through all of them in one sitting, capture the diamond, and win the game. With over 200 screens to clear, however, going for points is a more realistic ambition as with most arcade games.
Platforming is present, since you will need to maneuver around maze-like stages in order to reach clusters of breakables. Certain levels involve more moving platforms and intricate layouts than others, so you never quite know what you’re going to get. Making your way to the exit once it unlocks is also a challenge in itself, especially if the screen is a labyrinth of steel beams and walls. In addition, opening the exit will release the “Spirit of Glass”, a flying ghost that chases you around for the remainder of the level. If this guy touches you just once, it’s game over regardless of how many hearts you have. Forget everything else, it’s you versus the “Spirit of Glass” in the end.
Meanwhile, loads of monsters continuously spawn around the screen to put an end to your nonsense, and the surprise materializes in how you kill them. Unlike practically every classic arcade game, erasing opponents is as simple as touching them. You won’t have to kick, trap, throw, shoot, or avoid anyone in Infernal Racket. You’re Pac-Man on a power pellet for the entirety of the game. However, enemies get around this unique mechanic by shooting swarms of projectiles at you instead. Essentially, you need to launch yourself at enemies as often as possible to prevent them from firing missiles at you from a distance. Even so, the amount of dodging required to stay alive gets ridiculous quickly, and I also have a suspicion the game gets faster the longer you play.
In order to give you a fighting chance, every trio of levels introduces a random collection of powerups. The player can choose one to keep for the remainder of their playthrough, and they are quite useful. Increasing your maximum health or obtaining the invaluable resurrection powerup are both essential. I wish there was some way to view which buffs you already have equipped though, because it’s difficult to remember them in the midst of action.
Infernal Racket’s art style is reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon, ditching alternative pixelated graphics and going for a more colorful arcade cabinet look. Similarly, the soundtrack opts out of chiptunes and contains a lighthearted set of music that goes well with the gameplay. Infernal Racket reminds me of classic Donkey Kong, where a mix of platforming and insta-death create a frantic, high-pressure environment that never eases up. The game looks extremely simple from a distance, yet turns out to be borderline impossible once you start playing.
If you’re looking for a well-polished arcade experience, Infernal Racket is a great option. Most players will find the game to be a good way to spend their coffee break, while others will inevitably become obsessed and won’t rest until they clear the entire game. Now, it’s not something you would typically enjoy for hours on end or even a few weeks down the road, as there’s not much to lure you in. Regardless, Infernal Racket’s basic gameplay can be learned in just a few minutes, and will surely be enjoyed by players of all skill levels.
Infernal Racket (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
If you’re looking for a well-polished arcade experience, Infernal Racket is a great option. Most players will find the game to be a good way to spend their coffee break, while others will inevitably become obsessed and won’t rest until they clear the entire game.