Scrolling shoot ’em up titles is a genre I like to dive into once in a while. Thanks to Capcom Arcade Stadium and Antstream Arcade I’ve managed to get hands-on with some of the classics over the last few years once again. Even though I am terrible at them, I like the addictive nature of attempting to improve my run each time. I recall countless hours of Ikaruga on the Xbox 360 and even the R-Type games over the past few decades. Dead End City from Eastasiasoft Limited and Pixel Licker LLC brings those sweet 90s vibes in this top-down retro shooter.

I immediately noticed the condensed screen on the Xbox Series X; I would imagine this would be the same with the Series S and the bog standard Xbox One. It appears like a thin strip down the centre of the TV with the surrounding areas filled with a void of black. It would be nice if they could have at least placed a background to integrate with the game here. Aesthetically, the game does well to capture the feel of arcade classics and the basic HUD transitions well with the appearance of the multiplier. The audio is as you’d expect and echoes the vibes of 30 years ago.

The premise is pretty simple and that is to survive and score as high as possible. Consistent scoring ramps up the multiplier and will help if you’re aiming to hit the top of the online leaderboards. There are 5 areas in the game to get through and as I expected each includes a different boss. I enjoyed the challenge of attempting to get further on every run I played and you quickly realise it is all about continuing unscathed and trying to keep the fuel tank topped up. There are three different modes to choose from, Topoff, Arcade and Score Attack.

There is a shop where you can grab unlockables but it felt like a real grind to get even close to some of them. What I found a bit peculiar was that some of the items could have easily been presented as a bonus drop while playing the game. Using currency to buy health bars feels a little odd, but some may like the system more than I did.

Dead End City provides a few hours of fun but its basic nature and not much in the way of progression regarding weaponry or special powers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide the replayability or memorable moments as some of the classics from the early 90’s. Those who are well into the genre will still have a good time here especially if you are competitive. The online leaderboards and different modes may just provide enough staying power for some.


  • 60%
    CX Score - 60%



  • A varied approach to the genre
  • Online leaderboards will provide longevity to some
  • Good fluid gameplay loop



  • Gets very repetitive quite quickly
  • Not much variance in weaponry
  • The constant need to top up on fuel is a distraction

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