Nov. 3rd, 2015

terabient: (Dodonpachi SDOJ: Hibachi)
HELLO! Here are some opinions and progress reports on some obscure shooters I have played in the past few months because I don't know what else to write about today. ^^;

Redux: Dark Matters: OKAY WOW does this game have a convoluted history! This is the final (probably?) iteration of a game (Dux) originally created for the Sega Dreamcast by an independent developer in 2009. There were a couple of major fixes and re-releases at varying price points for the DC version, and then the developers created a Kickstarter to bring the final version to PC/Xbox/PS3/iOS platforms. From what I've gathered through the interwebs, this pissed off some supporters of the DC releases because the price point was way lower and it looked/played much better than them for obvious reasons. For what it's worth, I was considering buying Redux on the Dreamcast because the whole idea of indies releasing on dead consoles was and is fascinating, but given how high the asking price was and the knowledge that a much nicer, cheaper version would eventually be released I held off.

Anyway, Redux itself is....alright. It's a pretty competent homage/spiritual successor to older, horizontal shooters with additional modern shooter characteristics; the stages have a fair amount of environmental hazards (old school design) with masses of bullets to worry about as well (modern design). There's a shield (creature?) that can absorb bullets and deal damage to enemies if you ram them head-on for R-Type styled funtimes. You can upgrade your ship's arsenal but it's a simple, limited upgrade system--there's no playing around with multiple shot types like in Gradius. The bosses are huge and require you to break off various parts and have some really interesting bullet patterns.

Unfortunately the lack of feedback when dealing and receiving damage adds an artificial difficulty to the whole game; there's a shocking lack of visual and audio cues to indicate when you're hitting something, and there's no sound or visual to indicate when your R-bit is absorbing bullets or dealing damage to an enemy you're trying to ram. I've had a lot of deaths occur because I thought I was absorbing damage only to find out I was wrong--and while experimentation ending in embarrassing death is something that comes with the genre, in Redux it happens a lot more than I'm comfortable with.

The graphics are gorgeous--sharp, colorful and detailed with a kind of bubblegum spaceship aesthetic going on--but sometimes it's really hard to distinguish enemies from the bullets or environmental obstacles around them. And the HUD is very basic, which is nice in the sense that it's not obtrusive in a game where visual clarity is sometimes at a premium, but not so nice in that some extra informative text wouldn't hurt.

screenshot, cut because it's HUGE )

tl;dr: Solid conceptually, less solid actually playing it due to curious lack of clear feedback for the player.

Oh. OH. I almost forgot, it has a pretty decent soundtrack. I especially like the Game Over theme, a chill electronic track that helps me feel better about dying a lot. B)

Deathsmiles: I've had this Halloween-themed horizontal shooter since 2010, and I try to get in a few runs when it becomes seasonally appropriate. This year, I finally completed a long-term goal -- beating the game without continuing with all four characters. Granted, I played the easiest difficulty for three of the seven stages, and only had one life left at the end...but the last time I played Deathsmiles, I thought 1-credit-clearing the game was an incredibly difficult thing and I wouldn't be able to do it, ever. This year, I only needed a single practice run for Windia and 1CC'd with Casper on my first try. :O

I uploaded my run with Windia on youtube because...1CC runs on easy mode are the only things I post on my channel. (Mine is a very, very niche audience, lol):

cut because the youtube embed leaves a lot of unnecessary space )

I would have uploaded my run with Casper but I forgot to save the replay after completing it. :(

Mushihimesama Futari: On the subject of easy mode 1 credit clears, I recently cleared this game on...well, it was Novice mode, but on the hardest difficulty available so...easy hard mode??? I uploaded that run as well, mostly for myself. I'm not sure who actually looks up and watches this stuff, although the (very tiny) view count indicates they exist. :')

I really should play Mushihimesama Futari more often. The scoring system is relatively straightforward, which is nice to encounter in a genre where score systems tend to become more and more complex. You have to alternate between using a wide shot and a focused laser shot to get score items from enemies, which means if you're playing for score you'll end up having to use a less-than-ideal shot type for a given situation. If you're playing for survival you can settle for a lower score, and not worry about, say, using your wide shot against a single, large, tanky target. So you can gradually ease into a difficult style of play whenever you feel you can handle it.

Also, the music is lovely--and somewhat atypical of the genre; as an example, here's the True Final Boss track, which is somber and slow and not at all what you would expect to hear when your screen is literally covered in bullets.

In short, it's good.

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