App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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P1 Select is a bizarre game with an amazing premise. Using the mechanics of a player select screen, players maneuver around a 3x3 dungeon, killing enemies and trying to gather triangles for points and rings so they can use special abilities. Like I said, it’s weird, but it’s also kind of great.
Choose your fighter
Just like a good old fighting game, P1 Select begins with you choosing a character. You can pick from a roster of nine avatars. Some can attack through walls, others can attack without using a turn. You make your choice and off you start on a journey where you try to net as high a score as possible through a nine room dungeon.
This may all sound like fairly standard stuff, but there’s a catch. Every time you move in P1 Select, you also shift your character selection from the one you initially chose. So, for example, if you chose to start with the Dashe avatar (who can move the full length of the screen in an attack), you might move down and—in the process—turn your character into Doom, or whatever character is listed under Dashe on the player select menu.
Slide and substitute
P1 Select’s twist feels like you’re playing a game that accidentally mapped two controls to the same button. You need to move and attack through this dungeon, but doing so also forces you to change your character. The challenge of the game is figuring out how to balance optimal positioning with character selection to make this work.
As a score chaser, “making this work” involves gathering as many triangles as possible. You can gather these collectibles by either moving between rooms or killing enemies using the Midas character (who only has modest, short range attack that turns enemies into triangles). At the end of any given run, P1 Select shows you your high score and also gives you an average of your recent past runs. This simple trick is surprisingly effective at goading you into “one more run” in an attempt to raise your average.
To add some more longevity to the game, P1 Select also has unlockable modifiers you can earn by achieving point totals of 12, 16, or 20. This isn’t really explained in the game at all. It’s just one of those things you have to discover about it. P1 Select is full of opaque little details like that, which could be off-putting if you don’t want to invest time into the game just to figure out how everything works.
Unexplained mechanics aren’t the only thing that might push you away from P1 Select. This isn’t a game that I’d call a looker, and—even if it was—the lack of support for iPhone X screens is a little disappointing. I also had multiple occasions while playing where the two-finger slide-to-attack command didn’t register properly and I ended up doing something I didn’t mean to.
The bottom line
There are definitely some rough edges to P1 Select, but the core of what’s here is so cool and creative that they’re easy to look past. Do yourself a favor and go play P1 Select. It’s hard to imagine a more imaginative roguelike in such a tight little package.