Review by BakaOrochi

"Neo-Geo's unrealized shooter"

Here's something I never expected. A shooter on a Neo-Geo system, that was better than Pulstar, by the same company, Yumekobo. What first struck me was that I wasn't sure how Yumekobo could pull off a sequel to it's standard-fare R-Type-esque shooter, Pulstar. However, when I actually sat down and played it, it was something beyond what I expected.

Graphics: 8/10
The first thing you notice is the 3D-ish graphics. This is the same type of graphics you'll see in another Neo-Geo fighter, Ranagard. However, thankfully most of the in-game graphics are simple drawn 2D sprites (seeing as how Neo-Geo really has no 3D capabilities built in, they had to do with imitating software rendering...which only looks good because of the smooth framerate). The intro is very catchy, and total anime style, as are the characters drawn as well. The rest of the game is your standard fare; it's not low-res for the most part either, so you're not treated to a bunch of pixels firing a barrage of rainbow pixels at you.

Personally, I was hoping for more pictures of the characters, since I think they're drawn beautifully (unlike Gowcaizer), but to no avail.

Sound: 9/10
I was really drawn in by the synthesized music. It's, in my opinion, one of Neo-Geo's best soundtracks. It's not catchy or anything of the sort, but it fits well with the in-game feel. Some of the tracks are also symphonic synthesized, which covers a good underlying theme for the sections it's played on (such as the ending, end boss themes, etc.).

Gameplay: 9/10
There's a rather large variety of ships, and each had it's own advantage. Each also had 4 different modes of attacks, which varied up the attack style greatly instead of dodge-and-shoot. Of course, power-ups make your weapons beefier than ever; by the time you hit 4 power-ups, your weapons are all over the place.

The one ship that should be mentioned is Asayuki's ship, the Peplos. This was an interesting throw-in; it cannot be powered-up at all, and has is made to contrast with the default ship, the Hellhound. It even notes in the ship selection it's a ''Difficult'' ship. I found this ship choice interesting, an underpowered ship to select from.

The other ships that you can choose from have it's strengths and weaknesses; most shooter fans will be able to choose from their favorites, depending on who they can play best with. The game controls very well, and my only gripe would be that the ''rapid-fire'' shots make you jam on the buttons a little too fast to make the weapon work.

If you're up for an extra challenge, add a second player, and the amount of enemies and bullets on the screen double. But at least you get to play simultaneously with a friend.

Story: 6/10
Well, unless you have the instruction booklet, you'll probably have no idea what's going on. As with most shooters, there's not much of a story anyhow.

Presentation: 9/10
This is gets a 9, mainly because of the ridiculous amounts of Engrish in this game. It's that much worse than any King of Fighters game; it's the prime example of SNK Engrish. Every aspect of the game that has English is poorly translated. The most interesting part is that even if the game is in Japanese, almost all the English text is retained.

Of course, you also need to be careful that you're not too heavily distracted by the Engrish texts to crash.

The difficulty goes up gradually with each level. By the time you're near the end, it gets pretty crazy. However, I must admit, it's not the hardest shooter I've played by far.

Replay value: 7/10
Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of replay value, except if you want to try the different ships, and collect all the LUCKY medals, secrets, and try for record times. But if you're an avid shooter fan, you'll want to go back and replay some levels to learn patterns.

Overall: 9/10
If you need a shooter, this is your best bet for Neo-Geo. It's one of the least talked about shooters out there, yet it offers a lot to have fun with. While it has it's down points, it's makes up for it's loss in what it can offer.

I have yet to figure out why I keep coming back to this game...


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/10/03, Updated 04/10/03


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