Review by _____Cait
"Not a bad game, but nowhere near as good as older Konami Shooters."
I'll start off by saying that I am a huge SHMUP fan, and a big Konami Shooter fan. Twinbee, Salamander, Gradius, and the likes rank as my favorite series of games. I also enjoy Cave shooters, and a few random lesser known SHMUPS such as Trouble Witches Neo, Raiden series, Giga Wing, and Sega classics like Radiant Silvergun and the like. I waited months for this game to release. I had rarely ever been so hyped for a game. I withstood all the delays (one delay even being on the week of release), and eagerly anticipated finally playing a new Konami Shooter.
With that said, after having played all those amazing games, this one was a huge letdown. How did a game meant to commemorate the father of modern SHMUPS turn out so... Average? There are many factors that contribute to this. For this review, I'll start off by getting all the negative parts out of the way, and then work my way up to the things that do work for the game.
For starters, I feel that the creators focused too much on the magical flying girl aspect of the game. Fine, little girls controlling classic Gradius inspired ships is fine, but not when it reaches levels of pervertedness like this. You can actually click on the girls in loading screens and have them speak to you in shy, scared, or seductive voices (depending on the personality of said character). That's only the beginning. There are plenty of panty shots when the camera flies under characters in entry and exit portions of levels. Most of the girls barely wear any clothes, and hey, if you get the special addition, you can get a pillow with the girlies on it being all kawaii desu desu. Yeah, it's all meaningless at the end of the day, but it gives the game this... Feeling that the other Gradius games did not have. Even Twinbee, being cutesy and lighthearted, at least had the gameplay and style to back it up.
Unless you're into looking at half-naked underaged girls, this game has little to gawk at. It doesn't look bad, but there aren't very memorable locations in the game. The clouds in the first boss fight are nice, and then after that, the game is pretty generic. That's not the problem though, the problem is that some of the backgrounds are also very cluttered, and you can't see enemy lasers. There is a stage where an enemy fires a green laser at you, when you are in front of a green forest. Green laser in front of a green forest. See the problem there? Most other Gradius games made sure the bullets stood out from the backgrounds, but this game apparently wanted to try to look fancy, while forgetting that it was meant for hardcore players.
See, that's the problem with this game. So many aspects of the series were put behind the ideas of pretty backgrounds (although fairly generic in design), half-naked teens, and pervy aesthetics.
More problems arrive with pacing. Many times do you have a huge dead spot of no action while you wait for the boss to appear on the screen, doing some cute animation or shining or hopping around, when you just want to fight it already. This game is full of dead spots with nothing going on. Gradius 5 had a similar moment in stage 2 with that little cutscene that you all remember if you played it. It's a painful reminder of that, because you can't skip them. You have to watch the whole thing, every single time. These games were originally fast, arcade-style action, but now it's full of fancy little mini-cutscenes that don't matter because you won't pay attention to the story anyway, because all the dialogue is in Japanese, and the subtitles are too small to read, as well as scrolling too fast AND being at the bottom left of the screen WHILE action is happening. What a mess.
Ok, but lazy ideas aside, there is some good to this game. Each character represents a classic Gradius/Twinbee/Salamander/etc ship and controls fairly similar to them. The Twinbee pilot actually has little options of Twinbee, Winbee, and Gwinbee, which I loved seeing. Vic Viper has the famous options, and many more. This is what the game did right. This is real fanservice, not little girls in underwear. Each ship can equip and upgrade cards, which act like the custom ship select in Gradius games. You can use E. Lasers, Ripple lasers, 3-way shots, Charge shots, shields, Vulcan cannons, and many other options. By playing, you can upgrade them to make them more powerful for later playthroughs, making the game even more fulfilling. The music, while not as memorable as the older games, is still pretty decent, and if you get the special edition, you get a neat soundtrack filled with classic Konami Shooter remixes (many from Otomedius G, the Japan-Only sequel), and some other great tunes. Also included is an artbook of characters from the game, and that aforementioned pillow.
A unique feature added to the game is the Platinum Break attack. By charging the bomb button (also new to the series) you release a wave of energy, all unique to each character. This is a great way to take out bosses, as it is simply not just a screen-wiping mechanic. Your ship slows down considerably, and you have to usually time it correctly to hit the weak points of bosses or enemies. Being successful in this will do a good portion of damage to bosses, which is very essential, since many of them will run away from you if you try to milk them for points too long, or just act too slowly.
Choosing your weapons is also important for boss battles. Each boss has a core that you must break through. Some weapons can't fit through the shaft leading to the core, so you need to bring along weapons that can make it. Making sure you power your bar up to the correct weapon (also Gradius style) is essential as well, since many weapons are useless against bosses.
There are multiple game modes, such as Story Mode (play through with infinite credits), Score Mode (no continues, load scores to the Leaderboards), multiplayer (offline and online)... You know, the typical modes. There's also an art gallery, and the worst feature, DLC. This game has a lot of DLC. Most of it is pointless stuff, like character costumes, but some of it is levels representing different games, like Twnbee. Even worse, there are multiple music packs with music from other series. These would have made amazing unlockables for the game, but Konami had to torture us with 5 dollar music packs, sitting right in front of our faces.
Anyway, this is not the best Konami Shooter. Difficulty-wise, it's a little harder than Gradius 1, but easier than nearly every other game. The boring artstyle, the distracting backgrounds, the annoying abundance of little girls showing off their little girl bodies, and the abundance of DLC all lead to a fairly average game. It's not a bad Gradius game, but I believe that if the game was less about magical flying girls, and more about arcade style action, the focus would have been more solid and the game would have been a more memorable experience.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 08/13/12
Game Release: Otomedius Excellent (Special Edition) (US, 11/01/11)
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