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Fun but extremely challenging in later levels.

  • Decky
  • 01/28/2014 05:44 PM
I'll admit: I don't have much experience with these types of games. I'm not -terrible- at them, but I kinda suck (just check out my review for Astral Conjunction from a few years back). Nevertheless, I've kind of been in a shoot 'em up mood lately, and I've been trying to review short games that are reviewless, so that led me here!

First thing I noticed was the minimalistic but effective briefing screens, accompanied by the classic Mass Effect space map music.

No Nukes! No Nukes!

There's not a whole lot to say about the story from what I played: it gets the point across and provides us with an idea of what to expect.

Outside of the Mass Effect music I mentioned before, there is an action-packed track that plays throughout the levels: as you progress through the levels, the track increases in tempo. I thought this was a nice touch. I couldn't pinpoint exactly where this music was from, though - it could be from one of those SNES shmup-style games.

Graphically, we have some nice, top-down SNES-style tiles here. I'm guessing they are from one of those old shmup games. They're used well: the graphics aren't overdone, so I'm still able to see what the heck I'm doing. I never got to the space levels, sadly, but the visuals up there look good based on the screenshot(s).

The enemies are also pretty cool looking (again, I'm not sure if they're original or ripped). The water cruisers in particular look pretty badass (and they're a pain in the ass to beat: more on that later). Nothing clashes or seems out of place in the visual department.

What's really impressive about this game is that it was made in RPG MAKER XP. Yes, an RPG development program. This has been done before to varied effect; many users are good at it, but it always impresses me. This is no exception. The controls are fine and the collision detection is spot on. There is some slowdown when there are a ton of bullets on the screen, but this is to be expected (plus my laptop sucks).

As for the gameplay itself, the game is quite challenging. Thankfully you have unlimited lives (or so it seems), but you'll lose your base in a heartbeat if you're not careful. Plus, there's an incentive to stay alive: the more lives lost, the less XP you obtain, and the harder the missions will get down the road. You want to master the first few missions to ensure that you have a good array of upgrades for level 5, an extremely challenging level that had me stuck.

(In hindsight, though, I think I was too offensive in that level. I should've been defensive. Maybe the time limit could've been visualized on the screen.)

Oh my god oh my god oh my god...

The gameplay is basic: you fire spread shots at enemies, and they fire back, and you have to dodge them in bullet hell fashion. Take out their base and prevent them from taking out yours. Assign commands suck as Attack and Defend to your allies (if any). Each enemy has a firing pattern; once you figure them out, they become a lot easier to take down. There are some enemies, such as those sea cruisers, that are virtually impossible to penetrate. Then again, I'm not particularly strong at these sorts of games.

One of the big gripes I have with this game is the direction in which your craft fires. Your craft doesn't really face any particular direction; it's as if the AI picks a target for you and it starts shooting at it. This kind of frustrates me; if I want to attack someone else, the game might not let me.

I think this game could use some more features, such as optional attacks, special moves, etc. This sort of thing made Astral Conjunction so cool. Perhaps there were more features available in future levels, but I was stuck on Level 5 for quite some time. I chalk that up to my own incompetence.

This is a nice little top-down shoot 'em up, though it's fairly minimalistic and there is some slowdown. I had a few gripes as mentioned above, but I think any fan of shmup-style games who is interested in seeing RPG Maker XP pushed to the limits will want to check this one out!