The twin-stick shooter is a difficult beast to get right. It's easy to stray too close to the Geometry Wars template, creating a neon-bright blaster that pays homage to the greats but little more.
JoyJoy paints its violence in different hues. Calming blues and salmon pinks swill around its tight arenas, the curved edges of its spaceships swooping through a pastel carnage that's easy on the eye and hard on the heart.
It might not quite shake the shackles of its edgier inspiration, but there's a brilliantly balanced mix of arcade action here that deserves to be experienced.
As usual you play a lone fighter out to shoot lots and lots of other fighters before they kill you. You move around by poking a joystick on the left of the screen, and fire with one on the right.
You don't actually have to use the joystick to fire, though. Lifting your thumb up lets the game take over the aiming duties if you'd prefer.
In the main waves mode you blast your way through increasingly tough streams of ships, collecting weapon and shield upgrades as you go. Some lasers search out enemies, others offer a wider spread, and choosing the one that suits your play style is essential.
Destroyed enemies drop stars. These power-up your Ultra bar, which lets you unleash a crazed spray of laser-y death for a few moments. It's particularly handy in boss battles, or when a swarm attacks.
The Challenge mode offers some more focused gameplay, tasking you with scoring points or staying alive for a set amount of time.
JoyJoy to the world
JoyJoy drops in enough tweaked and fresh ideas that it never feels overly familiar. Vortexes suck in ships for easy kills, bosses rain out pattern-based death, and bursts act like short-lived offensive turrets.
Everything plays with a silky smooth responsiveness, and there's a mesmerising number of difficulty settings that mean anyone from the casual player to the callus-thumbed shooter pro will find a level that suits them.
If you're looking for a satisfying arcade score-chaser with a little more depth than your average twin-stick shooter, then JoyJoy is well worth further examination.