What is Impulse?

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Picture a mash-up of Super Meat Boy and Lunar Lander. Or N+ meets Asteroids. That’s Impulse.

The premise is simple. You need to guide your craft to the exit point of each level, avoiding the various obstacles and bad guys.

(It’s better to watch the trailer in HD if you can.)

Levels are short, sometimes brutal affairs. There are no life limits, retry as many times as you need. Restarting a level is instant. There’s no waiting or loading — one moment you’re dead, a click of the mouse later and you’re ready to try again. You can even suicide so you don’t have to wait for death when you know you’ve fouled up.

Your craft is at the whim of Newtonian physics. With only a simple thruster you need to battle the forces of gravity and atmospheric drag all while avoiding high-speed impact. The trouble is that all these variables are liable to change with each level. Gravity could be strong, or weak, or zero; it may pull in any direction. Drag might mirror the vacuum of space or the ocean depths. Your craft’s thrusters might be strong or weak. You might have limited or limitless fuel. Your hull might laugh off high-speed impacts or it might shatter from the slightest bump.

With all these variables, levels take on very different feels. Some require careful thinking and gentle, deliberate action. Others are all about reflexes and reaction. Most are a mixture of both.


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Impulse is a free game for Windows. It should run on XP, Vista, 7 and (hopefully) 8.

Download the Full Installer (140 MB)
This version contains everything you need to get Impulse running. Get this version if you’re unsure what version you need.

Download the Game-Only Installer (92 MB)
This version contains only Impulse game files. It doesn’t include the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile or the XNA Framework Redistributable 4.0. (If you don’t have these installed, it will warn you before installing, and link you to a download page.)

Download as a Zip File (92 MB)
The game files bundled into a Zip archive. For advanced users only.


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Several composers contributed to the music in Impulse.

Tracks by Michael Chadwick:

Tracks by Shawn Crawford:

Tracks by Hagen & Coldfingers:

Tracks by Kyer Kahn:

Tracks by Rob Northcott of Spooky Castle Music:

Tracks by Daniel “Shrack” Swearengin:

Tracks by 12 Followers/Meteo Xavier:

Level Editor

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Impulse comes with a level editor. To learn more the level editor and level editing in general, click here.


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Sound effects by Daniel “Shrack” Swearengin.

Impulse uses the following fonts:

Impulse was built with the following technologies:

The Impulse level editor was built with the following technologies:

Some code inspired by Vector Rumble.

Thanks to Nelson Hurst for his XNA 3.1 to 4.0 Cheat Sheet.

The Impulse installer uses Inno Setup.

Icons were created with IcoFX.

Version History

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The latest version is always available from the download links above.

24 July 2012
Game version: 1.0.4587.32206
Editor version 1.0.4470.25493
Added one new music track by 12 Followers/Meteo Xavier: Strange Rock in the Heavens.

4 June 2012
Game version: 1.0.4537.22459
Editor version 1.0.4470.25493
Added 9 new music tracks by 12 Followers/Meteo Xavier.

18 April 2012
Game version 1.0.4490.1807
Editor version 1.0.4470.25493
Added two new music tracks by Rob Northcott: Deluge and Kraft-Lite.

28 March 2012
Game version 1.0.4469.33913
Editor version 1.0.4470.25493
Fixed a problem where different regional symbols used for a decimal point would cause level loading and saving problems in Impulse and the level editor. Forced invariant culture in both. (Thanks again Zoltán!)

28 March 2012
Game version 1.0.4469.23046
Editor version 1.0.4392.42865
Fixed a problem where Impulse could crash on startup in regions where month-names contain non-ASCII characters. A default character is now rendered instead. (Thanks Zoltán!)

11 March 2012
Game version 1.0.4452.21669
Editor version 1.0.4392.42865
Initial Release

FAQ and Troubleshooting

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Everything’s so small! How can I see what I’m doing?

Have you tried using the zoom controls? By default, it is bound to the mouse-wheel.

I got stuck in a level and there’s nothing I can do except quit out and come back to the level. What gives?

In situations like that, you’re supposed to suicide your craft. This allows you to instantly try again. (Indeed, it’s not just useful for when you get totally stuck, but when you know you’ve gotten off to a bad start and just want to try again.)

By default, suicide is bound to the middle mouse button and the space bar.

Why does the game crash?

Do you have these prerequisites installed?

(The full installer should automatically install these, and the game-only installer should warn you if these frameworks are missing.)

If you do have these prerequisites I’ve no idea why the game would crash. I’d be thankful if you could contact me (see below) to send me the crash message (you can Ctrl+C the dialog to copy the message) and the circumstances under which it arose.

The game’s performance is terrible, how can I improve it?

Go to the Settings page from the main menu. Do you have particle rendering set to “full”? That’s probably causing the problem. Change it to “standard” or “off”.

I made a level using the editor and would like to submit it for inclusion in the game.

Great! Contact me (see below) and send me the file!

Make sure you set your “author name” in the editor so, when the level is played, everyone knows that you created it.

I set the graphics resolution to a value my monitor cannot display, and now I can’t see anything!

First of all, keep pushing the Escape key until the game exits.

Then, run the game in “safe mode”. It will reset the game’s resolution to 640x480, windowed.

If you used the installer there should be a shortcut to “safe mode” in your Start Menu. Otherwise, run the game with “safe” as a command line argument (no dashes or slashes).

The game window sometimes shifts slightly, or flickers, or behaves oddly in the taskbar.

This can happen when Impulse loses focus (i.e. when you click outside the window) and you return to the game. A quick fix is to restart the game.

That said, this problem only seems to happen when the game is played in a window. By playing in fullscreen mode (in the Settings menu) this problem shouldn’t happen.

I am getting an error “Song playback failed. Please verify that the song is not DRM protected.”

This error happens when Windows Media Player has been uninstalled. I believe it is limited to Windows 7 machines. Reinstall Windows Media Player by following these steps:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel.
  2. Select “Uninstall a Program” (or “Programs and Features” if you are not using categories view).
  3. Click on “Turn Windows features on or off”.
  4. Expand “Media Features”.
  5. Ensure “Windows Media Player” is checked.
  6. Click OK.

You should now be able to play Impulse.

(I want to apologise to anyone who doesn’t want Windows Media Player on their system. At the time of coding Impulse I wasn’t aware that Media Player would be a requirement to music playback. Had I been aware I would’ve investigated other means of music playback.)

(Thanks to Cheezy WEAPON for sending me a stack trace and otherwise helping figure out this error.)

I am getting an error “A previous Draw call threw an unhandled exception.”

In my experience, this error requires three things:

So, when recording Impulse video, remember to stop recording before switching out to another application.

I am a gamer with impaired vision and have trouble playing Impulse.

Unfortunately I did not include any settings to explicitly help gamers with limited vision.

However, it is possible to edit the Impulse.exe.config file to change all sorts of game features, including colours and font sizes.

Naturally you should be careful when editing the config file. There are plenty of settings other than colours and font sizes. Changing these could alter gameplay or even break the game entirely.

How can I contact the author?

My contact details can be found here.

Creative Commons License     This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
     Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.