the day, magazines like EGM and GamePro were
so bad at reporting (and still are) that the average reader
or game player was convinced nothing in the shooting genre
existed outside of Einhander, R-Type Delta,
and G. Darius (let alone the horizontal shooting type).
Diversity on the Internet was lacking almost as much; most
"shmup fans" were just fans of the Saturn hardware.
Big media favored PlayStation-based horizontal shooters, the
Internet favored Saturn-based vertical shooters, and both
did a real "bang-up job" in misrepresenting the
genre as a whole. BADCP, however, has always been about
the genre as a whole. Tips & Tricks, GameFan,
and Gamer's Republic all did a better job, but unfortunately
lacked mass popularity and influence. Even though we make
fun of scene sensations like Radiant Silvergun and
Einhander, we do actually play multi-platform, and
always have. Some shooters on it are favored, but as a whole
the genre has gone misrepresented on the PlayStation hardware.
Like we did with DreamCast shooters before, we felt it was
necessary to represent PlayStation shooters from different
angles than typically presented. Featured are shooters designed,
optimized, and/or remade specifically for the PlayStation
One of the most iconic shooters on the PlayStation hardware, this
one is a shoe-in for most fans of the genre just from its 8-bit
origins. From personal experience, I can definitely say that its
reputation precedes it; the game took me years to obtain,
with many failed attempts and lost bouts with ridiculous auction
pricing along the way (no PSP back then). Three years later and
$40.00 cheaper, I finally got the game by going to Japan.
Being on tour worked-out well in this situation because I had a
chance to buy the game without bidding, and at a reasonable price.
It was bittersweet (my console was back home), but upon arrival
back I finally experienced what Eight Rooks spoke so highly of.
They say "good
things come to those who wait," and with all I went through
to get it, this literally couldn't be more fitting for Gradius
Gaiden. Whether or not it's the first 3-D Gradius is
still debated, but there is no question that the game's really good.
It has that distinct design from the series' roots, made epic with
the potential of the then-new PlayStation hardware. Simultaneous
two-player is a reprieve from past single-player monotony, the four
selectable ships and various weapons are familiar Konami fare, and
the screen-filling bosses look cool and sleek. Mind-blowing effects
immerse you with thunderous avalanches, chaotic black holes, and
elaborate pyrotechnics. It didn't evolve, however, beyond cheap
"off-screen Konami shot deaths" and rigid re-spawning
(innate to the series since its inception).
Force V: Perfect System
[TecnoSoft / Working Designs]
The second oldest shooting series on the PlayStation hardware (dating
back to 1983), "Perfect System" was (thankfully)
added to the game's title as an indicator of changes made in transition
from the Saturn hardware. TecnoSoft doesn't make a lot of games,
but you can see an emphasis on perfection in the scale of TFVPS!
It's said there's "beauty in simplicity," and this rings
true for the Gauntlet (your simple, yet masterfully-designed and
detailed craft). The best shooting games have cool muzzle flash
effects, and your ship's has a 90's movie look rivaled by few. The
visuals are supreme, but big media reporting would deceive the masses
into thinking otherwise (and have apparently succeeded)...
It's no wonder
TFVPS is so underrated; the influence of print media like
Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine was negatively inconsistent.
Their September 1998 preview praises an "all new" game
with "3D graphics only possible on the current home systems
for most of its enemies, Bosses and backgrounds," that "packs
a visual punch" in "living up to its legacy in terms of
great gameplay and reputation for state-of-the-art graphics"
and "eye-popping visuals everyone has come to expect."
But that preview lifts you up so you can fall in the October 1998
review. Reviewer Mark MacDonald claims the graphics "remain
unchanged," that "polygonal enemies, including Bosses,
often appear blocky and out of place against the simple 2D backgrounds,"
that "other enemies look plain or pixelated." Say what?
in the preview turned 2-D in the review? Visuals packing a punch
turned ugly? And how could graphics be unchanged from Saturn to
PlayStation when even OPM's own preview describes transparency
use (an effect the Saturn was incapable of, thus making it a change)?
The list goes on, and the only thing worse than these inconsistencies
was the expected "Eye&handurr" drop at the
end. Absolute garbage 3/5 review, considering his 4/5 review of
G. Darius; GD enemies and bosses may have slightly
more complex models, and in both games they animate equally
nice, but the models in TFVPS aren't far-off at all, and
are more complex in design (a draw completely dodged). Other
visual strengths they ducked were spectacular boss entrance/death
sequences and stage hue/boss color changes in the added Time Attack
In an October
1998 GamePro, some turd reviewer ("Boba Fatt")
rates the visuals a measly 3.0/5.0, citing that "the highly-detailed
graphics create a cluttered screen making it difficult to locate
potential threats, so your success relies more on memorization than
on skill." Some parts involve memory, others require
skill, but he completely leaves out the emergence of visible background
enemies, incoming threat warning indicators, or pre-fight boss weapon
inventory display. Nor did he mention the complexity of the Gradius
option-inspired CRAW system and how it keeps the screen clean. What
an abysmal review. I don't care how high R-Type Delta, Einhander,
and G. Darius are held above Thunder Force V: Perfect
System; it's still one of my favorite shooters on the hardware,
and I'll always believe that it's incredibly underrated.
[Taito / THQ]
is another long-running series with history behind it (dating back
to 1986). G.
Darius got surprisingly positive reception (despite its aquatic
life-based theme), and together
with Einhander and
R-Type Delta, was made a benchmark status by big media. The
difference between the three was that G. Darius actually
deserved it. And you can see why; it has the appeal of a
casual fishing game, but with titanic
bosses, lively backgrounds, devastating beam attacks, and
fishing poles in the form of Capture Balls (that look more like
bobbers). Taito has always delivered quality, and I'm glad I own
G. Darius, but it's a sweet/sour affair.
less about the game itself and more about it being used as leverage
against other titles in the genre that are just as good (if not
fish in a shooting game is oddly innovative, but the acquired firepower
disappoints when compared to Options in GG or CRAW in TFVPS.
In the same (October 1998) issue of OPM,
Mark MacDonald fails to mention the dynamic of the CRAW system in
TFVPS, but he makes painstaking effort to describe the alternate
capture attacks in reviewing GD. Adding insult
to injury, he completely ignores TFVPS being
nonlinear, yet praises GD for its "number of both levels
(15) and Bosses (28!)," and "five different endings."
Left out were any sort of audio comparisons (TFVPS's
heavy soundtrack is like a blazing hail of fire-tipped arrows).
is a unique, nonlinear shooting experience (which is great), but
his "put-one-down-so-the-other-can-be-up" approach is
suspiciously unfair. And
this is part of the reason it
can be a controversial title in the genre;
big media seemed to love G.
is it held as high by anyone else with interest in shooters?
I like it and own it, but the
design isn't particularly good, and there really aren't that many
cool bosses. Your
Silver Hawk ship isn't as sleek as the Gauntlet from TFVPS,
or as stacked as Taito's own R-Gray from RayStorm, but
it's also not clunky like the the R-Type Delta ships. Furthermore,
their description of the backgrounds is lame; they say nothing about
trains bustling through underwater tunnels, or a distant Saturn
being destroyed by a boss beam.
Darius Ver. 2
Darius reception in Japan must have been as good as it was in
America, because a second version of it was released in Japanese
makes detailing cosmetic changes (if any) difficult, but
an added Beginner
mode and some gameplay changes (involving invincibility power-ups
and enemy capture) have been universally-detailed. Surprisingly,
GamePro not only acknowledged the game in
their January 1998 issue, but attempted to provide
"power-up rank" details. Delivering to a wider audience
is always good, and the Beginner mode did just that for
anyone who happened to miss the original. Catch them fish!
[Irem / Ascii / Agetec]
game is quite possibly the most overrated shooter on the PlayStation
hardware. Alongside Einhander, big media designated it to
be the benchmark
by which to judge and trash other shooters. Hey, EGM says
it's the best, so it must be the best! Right? No. True, R-Type
Delta is visually impressive, the design is good, the audio
is fitting, and the gameplay is epic in scale. However, it's just
not fun. Let the elitist insults fly, but video games
are games, and games are supposed to be enjoyable.
I could have tolerated the clunky ship designs and impractical weapons
if the game was more enjoyable (difficulty level isn't applicable
to the Bydo empire).
can nearly 1CC a lot of shooters, but saving progress couldn't even
help me on this one, nor could Jason Wilson's in-depth Tips &
Tricks magazine guide. Aside from the guide itself, he did put
it best when he described it back then as "what Irem is capable
of now." I thought this was accurate not just because he's
one of the true few who deserve respect, but because every piece
of RTD shows what underdog Irem was capable of. They weren't
as big as other developers, so what they did with the game was a
feat. Their accomplishment could have been more appreciated,
however, had it been more approachable. Then
why do anything to appeal
to a wider audience when EGM had it all covered even before
a US release? Speaking of the US release, omitting the dumb-looking
"Power Armor" would've been great; it looks bad.
just the most iconic shooting series on the PlayStation hardware,
but in video games, period. Like G. Darius Ver. 2, this is
a title I have little experience with (be it by choice or chance),
but deserves mention just based on its legacy alone. With
Space Invaders Anniversary, Taito
utilized PlayStation hardware capacity to deliver a host of titles
that range from the old and familiar to the odd and unfamiliar.
There's literally something for everyone; unfamiliar oddities for
all the fans, and the familiar oldies for everyone else. This is
the kind of game that stays busy all the time because it appeals
to such a large audience!
[Taito / Activision]
It's always hard to approach remaking a timeless classic because
no matter how well it's done, it will most likely always live in
the shadow of the original. This is especially true in an age where
anything pixelated is fashionable. The approach was completely
different than Space Invaders Anniversary, and props to Activision
for it! They chose a more focused look for the game than abstract,
and it looks pretty good. The fresh design breathes new life into
the classic series. Some may say more could have been put into it,
some say enough was put into it, and some may not care either way.
But to fans of Taito's pioneer shooting series, the game could be
another welcome addition of simple fun!
[Taito / Working Designs]
the first PlayStation hardware shooter I got, and it's still a favorite.
Not just because I favor vertical shooters, but because it was a
colossal sequel to the underrated Galactic Attack. That association
apparently made it guilty in GamePro's hesitant review. It's
"Scary Larry" said RS's
"tries to impress but comes up short," because that's
an accurate description of how he reviewed it. He claims "the
gameplay is dated," and that "gamers expecting anything
more than Gradius flipped sideways will probably want to
rent this one just for the weekend." This is ridiculous on
lock-on weapons in Gradius?
Second, Bombs in Gradius? Third, Gradius without environmental
hard to understand because it makes no sense.
Another thing he failed to mention was the destructible environments,
which is baffling because I can't recall many shooters at the time
that had this. Why was it so hard to credit? If it was due to space
constraints, then why did the area for the RS review have
to be so small and pathetic? Six full-page action and driving game
reviews, but a single shooting game can't get a full-page review?
What happened to variety? Not one of the mediocre action
or driving games could have been subbed-out with a shooting game
they scored better? RS is "arcade-perfect,"
so then why wasn't scored accordingly? This
is a prime example of their "arcade-perfect" double-standard.
double-standard is when
titles are rated poorly for being "not arcade-perfect,"
yet "arcade-perfect" titles are still rated poorly. By
the "arcade-perfect" logic, if a game is rated poorly
because it is "not arcade-perfect," then shouldn't
one that is be rated accordingly because it is "arcade-perfect?"
True, he praised the graphics for being "a step above the others
with multi-layered background targets and cool transparency effects,"
and even said it's "worth a look," but it doesn't count
for much when the reader sees the game was obviously not "good-enough"
to get a full-page review (or even a half-page review, for that
matter). Michael Hobbs of Gamers' Republic, however, did
the game justice in the January 2001 issue, and it was in a review
for a different game!
He mentions RayStorm
in a RayCrisis review as a "favorite shooter" of
his for "mostly aesthetic reasons" that include "mechanical
design" and its "great polygonal interpretation of the
overhead shooter." He went on to compliment the gameplay for
being "solid, complete with a Panzer-like lock-on system,"
and that is "was a two player game." He admits that even
with the solid gameplay, the mechanical design is "a Taito
strength," and that "the look of the game" ultimately
kept him "playing till the end." This is how it's
done. He managed to completely decimate the dedicated "Scary
Larry" review of RayStorm while reviewing its sequel,
RayCrisis. He did so by acknowledging not just the solid
gameplay, but Taito's masterful design (seen in every tank, turret,
submarine, enemy ship, and transforming craft you see).
[Taito / Working Designs]
With the "arcade-perfect" double-standard,
"arcade-perfect" titles are judged not by being "arcade-perfect,"
but by included extras. Even by that (double) standard, "Scary
Larry" never acknowledged the incredible value of the package;
the home version includes not just RayStorm, but the additional,
previously-unreleased version, RayStorm Extra. He probably
didn't play enough to address it, which sucks because they reader
would have no idea there are actually two full games on the
disc. RayStorm Extra still has all the cool muzzle flash,
splashy effects, explosive chaos, and cool design of RayStorm,
with notable changes and additions.
enhancements include different background hues, new boss colors,
and even more spectacular explosions. Easy
examples of this are the first stage (midday in RS, sunset
in RSE) and its spider-like boss (blue in RS, orange
in RSE). RSE also seems more approachable than RS
by my own experience; even though the American version's instruction
manual confirms increased difficulty and new enemies, I still wonder
if it was a misprint because I die more in RS than RSE.
New boss attacks have also been reported in RSE (which could
also be why it's considered harder). There's even a revealing new
ending and remixed
soundtrack! These are some of the many reasons why RayStorm
deserved a full-page review.
/ Working Designs]
A big fan of RayStorm, the sheer intensity
of RayCrisis blew me away, but GameFan's July 2000
coverage of it shocked me. Their review wasn't all
that positive, but still not all that bad. What's the difference
between the way GameFan conducted an unfavorable shooter
review and the way other magazines did? Presentation and
fact. Even though only one of their four reviews was positive, GameFan
gave RayCrisis not just an incredibly well-designed, factual
full-page review, but a spot in their "viewpoint"
section, as well. If they can dedicate a full page to even an unfavorable
shooting game as an unpopular magazine, why can't others do so as
I may not agree
with GF's unfavorable reviews of RC, but they are
based on fact and parallels that make sense. Editor
Eggo admits in his review that "it's got graphics that are
pretty amazing by PlayStation standards," with "explosions
galore, massive bosses, and enough rotation and grandeur to leave
your head spinning," but that it "suffers from a heavy
reliance on the lock-on" and "a condition" of sudden
death "hot zone" areas. There really are a ton of background
targets, and with as cool as the primary gun is, and as much as
flash-deaths occur, it's not hard to see where he's coming from.
Editor Kodomo had the best to say, citing that "with massive
robots walking the land below you, as smaller ships circle and shoot,
you are forced to think on 2 levels (Xevious style) and still
react to everything thrown at you." Well-put!
editors Fury and Eggo's reviews share is mention of Terra Diver,
and with good reason. Though I don't agree with Fury that the lock-on
system was implemented better in Terra
Diver, I do agree with Eggo that it's one hell
of a game. He was probably referring to the Saturn version, but
if there's any other shooter on the PlayStation hardware to match
RayCrisis, it's definitely the "yellow" Terra
Diver upgrade. However, I was wondering how Fury had arrived
at his conclusion that the lock-on system was better implemented
in Terra Diver; true, the full-range lock-on in TD
allows for easier rear-enemy attacking, but its slow and unorthodox
control has a steep learning curve. It's not easy attacking rear
enemies with the lock-on
missiles in RC, but its fixed reticle makes for quick and
orthodox ease of use.
/ Working Designs]
Why aren't the additional versions of RayStorm
and RayCrisis acknowledged? Even in GameFan there
was no mention of RayCrisis Special. Surprising, considering
all the enhancements. The visual changes are like RayStorm Extra;
different background hues and new boss colors. Examples
of this are similar, too (midday stages become sunset ones, etc).
Even though you can't continue at all, and it doesn't let you choose
the stage order as in RS, RCS is definitely more approachable
because the power-ups released from defeated bosses make it easier.
Another big change is that your score decreases if encroachment
Light Force 2
[Taito / XS Games]
can remember seeing this game as an expensive import behind glass.
That, of course, was before its budget American release years later.
Religious controversy was apparently a concern, as the Japanese
title was changed from Shikigami No Shiro (literally, "Castle
of the Gods") to Mobile Light Force 2 (to the dismay
of fans). A knockoffCharlie's Angels
story-related omissions added insult to injury,
and fans were outraged. I couldn't have cared less. The game's unlikely
boy hero, Shinto priest, and unorthodox attacks were fresh ideas,
but the design and story were never really that great, anyway. The
idiot with a cigarette dangling from his mouth is dumb, and a lot
of the bosses are fugly.
/ Skonec / Success]
can still remember when I first discovered this game my first trip
to Akihabara. The place was packed, but nobody was playing it! Just
from the demo, the game looked cool as hell, and I couldn't figure
out why nobody was playing it! So, I figured I'd give it a try.
I was not disappointed at all. I fell in love with it because of
the cool ship design and flashy lightning effects. Hitting the joystick
back and forth was a unique approach to powering-up, and combined
with "Scratching" from Mobile
Light Force 2, everything just gelled well with this
game. Skonec made
Taito look good with Psyvariar -Medium Unit-, which is a
lot more than "Triangle Service" did with XII Stag.
Cool title, cool game!
[Taito / Skonec
hardware is sort of like a who's-who of Taito-branded shooters,
and since Psyvariar is among the better, it
was a pleasant surprise when I found it had an upgrade.
kinda flew under the radar for me, but when I finally bought
the game, it was more of everything that made Psyvariar
-Medium Unit- great. The clever
technique that increases speed and shot power makes a return; moving
normally, your ship is slower with a spread shot, while rapidly
"wiggling" back and forth spirals your ship faster, into
the concentrated Rolling Shot. It's unique because you're always
weighing if the power of the Rolling Shot is worth the risk in each
unique situation. Wreck!
revised version includes some cool additions like additional modes
and hidden stages. The added replay mode is a nod to fans from the
old-school who play shooters for high scores; there's only two stages
and no continuing (like RayCrisis Special), but the player
can choose what stages to play, and there's a replay recording of
the highest score run that rolls before each stage. This is an excellent
feature that more shooters could have had; it gives players the
chance to not only see their mistakes and get better, but also the
play styles of others. Accessing the hidden stages is determined
by your ship's level. This
encourages the player to get better at scratching to get higher
and higher "Buzz" scores to level-up high-enough
stages that require higher levels to unlock.
and hidden stages give
even players who aren't interested in high-scoring many reasons
to come back play the game (since it's impossible to play through
it entirely in one sitting). The stages are similar to Night Raid
in design, and while probably not as "abstract," some
probably criticize it for being too "basic." But the designs
serve their purpose fine because the stages really aren't that long,
anyway. They're not quite as detailed as Mobile Light Force 2
or RayStorm, but there are some cool parts in the stages.
The replay mode is, of course, one-player, but did we mention
the rest of the game is two-player madness? Manic shooting goodness!
The awesome music is catchy and couldn't fit the game better. Taito
was wise to brand this series; who wouldn't want their name on a
game this good?
[Taito / Triangle Service]
the hell is this game even called? What in God's name? "Twelve
Stag," I've heard. Dumb title for a game that a better title
could have made look a little better. If
the PlayStation hardware is like a "who's-who" of Taito
shooters, and Psyvariar is among the superior, XII Stag
is among the inferior.
I've never seen Western magazines like EGM feature XII
Stag, but something gives me the feeling that its slow pace,
clunky design, minimal effects, OK weapons, and unforgiving collision
would have them sold. Present is a similar system to Psyvariar,
but still, something is lacking. I've seen some high prices for
this game, and while some may think it's justified, I don't. Bargain-only
buy for me if I ever find it cheap...
"Mustard's Last Stand"
[Eighting / Raizing / Data East / Hamster]
game is one of the best shooters not just on the hardware, but in
the genre. It was originally on Saturn hardware in arcades,
and went straight to home with the greatest of ease. The
Saturn hardware had yet another exclusive, uprising shooter; that
is, until a PlayStation version was decided on. Nothing could probably
get brainwashed "Saturn-only-hate-PlayStation" guys to
embrace it, but fans of the genre have many reasons to get
this "yellow" version. Just
like with Thunder Force V: Perfect System, handsome
PlayStation additions make it a must-own even for owners of the
could possibly make such an exceptional shooter even better? Making
it "Special" for the PlayStation hardware by including
additional craft, bosses, modes,
cinematic sequences, and voice-overs.
Joining Red, Green, and Blue is Yellow (piloted by a stoic bad-ass,
one-man army fighting invading enemy forces to the death). (Un)lucky
for him, a new stage and
boss were also added to
keep things (UN)fair. However, they did make the game more
approachable by including three difficulty settings to choose from.
New cleared-stage cinematic sequences were even added, as well as
voice-overs. The game also has an incredibly compelling,
epic soundtrack that is among (if not) the best in the genre. Eighting/Raizing
quality Saturn hardware shooter even better on the PlayStation hardware.
job on Giga Wing with Capcom's CPS-II hardware, and made
Giga Wing 2 the perfect shooter with the DreamCast
hardware, so seeing they developed Night Raid on Taito's
PlayStation-compatible G-Net hardware was surprising. I came, I
saw, I bought. This purchase was instant; I knew if I passed on
it, I wouldn't get another chance to buy it at a reasonable price
for a long, long time. The theme is set in a not-so-distant oppressive,
dark future described so clearly in songs of hard-core legends Earth
Crisis. Speaking of music, the audio in Night Raid is
some of the best on the hardware; some tracks rev so hard you'll
open up a pit on the spot, while the slower ones will make you slo-mo(sh).
eclectic backgrounds and soundtrack combine with frenetic gameplay
in a synergy that makes NR the most furious shooting experience
on PlayStation hardware, period. Only
the Psyvariar titles come close to the epic manic mayhem
in Night Raid. Takumi is known for bullet-heavy shooting
of the manic breed, and this outing carries-on the tradition perfectly
with similar gameplay flow. There are bullets everywhere,
and even though there is no "scratching" technique, you
do have the incredibly destructive Hug Launcher at your disposal.
Contrary to what its name may imply, it's so devastating that it
renders your ship invincible as it ricochets from enemy to enemy,
nullifying bullets while leaving chaos in its wake. It gives you
a sense of empowerment unlike any other shooter on the hardware.
you got a unique, inverse scoring system that works like a scale,
forcing you to choose a side to stick with for making the high
or low score table. In Takumi math fashion, scoring is taken
to astronomical lengths the human mind can barely comprehend. In
Takumi design fashion, your craft is sleek, mysterious, and ominous
as it mows down legion upon legion of enemies. NR gets criticism
for its enemy design, but they really don't look bad at all, and
it's not like you get to see them all that long, anyway! The bosses
are all screen-filling mechanical monstrosities, and fit the dimly-lit,
futuristic theme perfectly. The vibrant shot
patterns look cool, and are a breeze to evade (thanks to precise,
responsive control). There are even no collision deaths! Absolutely
one of the best shooters on the hardware.
[G Artist / Sony]
game is one of the taboo titles of the shooting genre. Self-proclaimed
"hard-core gamers" have done their best to bury Philosoma
into the fractures of time simply
over camera angles. Self-proclaimed
"purists" have claimed that it's not a "true"
shooter because its camera angles aren't exclusively vertical and/or
horizontal. Ultimately, though, there is flying, there is shooting,
there are bombs, there are enemies, and there are bosses, which
makes it a shooting game. Camera angles unorthodox to the genre
don't change that fact. I knew a longtime shooting game player who
recommend this title and spoke very highly of it when addressing
the genre. If you can handle the taboo, you might like it as much
EightOne about this one; I've only ever seen this expensive rarity
once. If you're a Treasure fan, you'll need to put down that heavy
cash to complete your collection. If you like shooting variety,
it could be worth the price. Even though he's no longer with us,
this game would definitely be near the top of EightOne's PlayStation
shooter list, so it had to be included just based on that factor
alone. He says the game is an absolute blast, so if it is for him,
it might be for you, too! It might be a blast for me, too, if I
can either play his, or find it for a reasonable price. Still, though,
some would say that the sheer variety in TS warrants the
[Team 17 / Ocean / Acclaim / Capcom]
member EightOne got me this one because he was surprised I had never
knew or played the Capcom-branded shooter. I couldn't believe I
didn't know about it; one of the only Capcom-branded titles I missed.
Capcom had very little in the way of shooting for the PlayStation
hardware, so it was a surprise to see they snapped-up Project
X2. Instead of doing polygonal evolution
of classic Capcom IPs like 1942 for the 32-bit era, they
picked-up a shooter not developed in-house. It's hard to
tell exactly why, but they might have made the decision based upon
the game's obvious (orb
helpers and horizontal/vertical gameplay mix) inspiration
from Konami classic Salamander . Or was it the visual polish?
graphics in PX2 look
incredible for the time, so it could have very well
been visual polish. The game's mechanical enemies and bosses alike
are intricately detailed, with impressive design. The three player
ships are designed similarly, but a tacky, forced rotating animation
keeps them from being as impressive as they could be. Had this been
omitted, the player ships would look as great as the opposition;
the design really isn't bad at all. The backgrounds are just as
nice, and would have hit their stride if it weren't for foreground
hazards. This game is a perfect example of foreground hazards that
should have either been left out or made smaller; with the large
craft sizes, the screen becomes so cluttered that there's little
to no time for enemy dispatching. It's sad to see.
Adding to the
clutter are weak shots and/or tough enemies; nearly everything in
the game just takes way too long to destroy. There are a lot of
weapons, and even though most of them look cool (with nice effects),
it always seems that far too little damage is being done. Even the
highly-favorable privilege of being able to keep them after continuing
doesn't help much. A game that looks this cool shouldn't
be this exhaustive. It's not even that the control is that
bad, it's just that these issues combine with sound sync and collision
issues that could have used more work. I'm forgiving, but there's
no denying the music is headache-inducing. The game has some really
nice 2-D backgrounds, though, and a cool password system for revisiting
them! PX2 isn't a terrible game, it just lacks in execution
(which is a crying shame).
[SquareSoft / Sony]
Aside from its ridiculous name and expected reception, Einhander
is infamous because of its post-Nintendo 64-cancellation development.
Square's sudden "exclusive" move to the PlayStation not
only defined "lowest of the low," but also "the bottom
line." Which is what makes Einhander all the more odd.
If they were so concerned with "the bottom line," then
why would they invest in development for a barely-profitable genre?
Their later dabbling in the lucrative fighting genre was one thing,
but an RPG maker doing a shooter? Despite its acclaimed design,
gameplay, and graphics, Einhander ultimately raises questions as
to the real reasons behind Square's hasty PlayStation lock-in.
[Namco / Hasbro]
classic can be likened to taboo shooter Philosoma.
Though not quite as drastic, it also features changing viewpoints
that similarly cause brain aneurysms in the domes of "shmup"
scenesters everywhere. Apparently a shooter deserves
to be in genre limbo if
fit the mold, so this one fits the same stigma. It's not a sports
game (no flying baseballs, footballs, etc.), it's not an RPG (no
endless text boxes or bad hairdos), it's not a racer (no drifting
or 4-wheeling), it's not a puzzler (no masonry here), and it's definitely
not a fighter (different types of fireball), so that makes it a
shooter (ship armadas, lasers, explosions). Enjoy.
This is probably the least appealing shooter on the PlayStation
hardware. Namco created appealing fighters with the Soul
and Tekken series, but the 32-bit debut of Xevious was less
appealing. Magazines like GamePro credit the series for "introducing"
the background enemy and/or lock-on system to the genre, but even
if it did, does Xevious 3D/G+ stand a chance on the same
hardware next to RayStorm or RayCrisis? Props to Namco
for (then) next-gen changes to a series heavily rooted in nostalgia,
and for designing the game by nostalgia, but it just seemed like
it lacked the appeal of other shooters (even Einhander)
on the hardware.
Not sure if it was a limited run, but I rarely (if ever) saw Xevious
3D/G+. Maybe I saw it once next to RayStorm in a bargain
bin (hey, at that time everyone was too busy playing games that
took time over skill). I'm more interested in the game now then
I was back then, but that's not saying much (considering I'd buy
every game on this list before it). The Solva-whatever ship still
looks pretty lame and archaic. Even for the time, X3D/G+
craft design just fails to impress me; I hear Night Raid
get crapped-on for "uninspired enemies and stages," yet
X3D/G+ is rarely (if ever) mentioned. The best definitely
wasn't saved for last, but then again, I'm biased; fans of the series
should show their pride and get it!
The PlayStation endured a lot of criticism then (and still does now)
in regards to shooting games, but has stood the test of time well
by representing the genre well in sheer variety. The PlayStation hardware
is home to shooters of all breeds, from technical and slow (R-Type
Delta) to blazing and manic (Night Raid), and everything
in between (Galaga: Destination Earth). For fans of the genre,
there's great shooting experiences to be had. For fans of the hardware,
it's gaming bliss! For wanna-be big media reviewers, it's something
they can never understand...
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