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Shmup shmup yup yup

No tits...? ~Darken

Don't mean to boast but I've always been fairly good at shooters and I don't mind challenging myself and sending myself to a good bullet hell once in a while. So when I heard about Erilex's Astral Conjunction, I didn't hesitate to download. When I opened it, it jumped straight into the story. A title graphic and some text that you can skip through and it wouldn't really matter. But the story goes that you are Eris, an evil goddess who the good guys imprisoned for a very long time and after many, many years, you have been given the opportunity to "break out" and blast everyone to smithereens! Fair enough. Good twist that you're actually the evil one but it doesn't really matter in the game, ever.

I don't know if it was just me but the ship seemed to steer a little slow when I started. It was at such a sluggish pace that I thought I would get speed power-ups like in Gradius. But that never happened. I eventually adapted to the speed and it wasn't so bad. And it was actually a blessing when it came to fighting the bosses. Because, believe me, you really don't want a fast speed when you're trying to creep through the tiny recesses of a shower of bullets. So, in the end, I'm not complaining.

The basic mechanics are that you hold down Z to fire your weapon (thank god, no tapping) and you press X to do your special. You only have one special, which is a phallic-shaped barrier that surrounds your ship that destroys any enemies AND bullets that manage to touch it. Putting on your special and slamming into a large enemy formation is very satisfying. I found myself willing to kill myself to obtain extra specials.

They're worth it, especially when at boss time. Items in this game come in the form of extra lives, an extra special and a weapon upgrade that you only obtain after defeating a boss. The first weapon upgrade lets you fire two shots and the second upgrade lets you sweep-fire four. This makes the third level a breeze, despite having the toughest enemies and formations. I would complain about the lack of power-ups and upgrades but apparently this game was an entry for the Game Gale Contest, so understandably there were time constraints and no proper time to implement all of these things.

The game didn't get difficult for me until the bosses made their entrance. The rest of the level could be more or less a breeze, especially if you just hover like 3/4-way to the top of the screen and just fire or dodge. Never stay all the way underneath. You will find yourself in a bullet storm. You can just zip past enemies spraying a shitload of bullets and they won't be able to do you a damn thing because they can't fire sideways or backwards. Very rarely will an enemy ambush from behind also.

The graphics are alright. They're simple and maybe a little uninspired but I understand it's all custom too. Though nothing really stood out for me, it all fit together well. The final boss was quite an imposing figure, though. The music was fine but something about the sound effects didn't sit right with me. The "shoot" sound effect and "enemy death" sound effect just seemed very sharp and a bit too loud.

The gripes I have with the game are only because of the limitations caused by the time restraints of the contest. These would include lack of power-ups and upgrades; the game only has three levels; not enough battle and bullet formations; and an ending that seemed as cold as the Game Over screen. It took me seven tries to beat the game, three of which spent on that devil of a last boss. Not bad. Not frustrating for me, and I did have some good fun with it. But it didn't go that extra mile to make it truly stand out for me, like the way a game like Hima's "Hello Panda" did, another contest game made in 2 weeks, which had three different "ships", a tactical twist to the playing style and a very inspired concept.

But you have a nice little game here and a hell of a final battle and it's all something to be proud of.