The Summer Of SHOOTERS Part 6 - Awards Grand Finale!
Well, now that all is said and done, as the final part in my Genesis shooter compendium, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and some of the best, and worst moments. It's time for awards day!
Last bosses are very important, as they're the final impression you give the player before the credits role. These are the five last bosses who seemed to miss the memo that there was a player trying to kill them, and just sort of let you kill them. Not to be confused with worst final boss, which would be the unkillable assholes you make beating the game impossible. I'm looking at YOU, Verytex.
Lords of Thunder. This guy takes longer to appear than he does to kill! Although he puts up a small bit of a fight, he dies way too quickly, I didn't even think the fight was actually over until my guy automatically flew off the screen.
Slap Fight. A bit of an exploit, this final boss can be killed nearly instantly if you get right in his face before he starts attacking.
Sol-Feace. Probably the most well known of the bunch, this guy is literally a joke. Like, he has no attacks, and no defense. He just lets you kill him. I just can't put him at number one though because he's so pathetic. I kind of understand what the designers were going for here, the super computer you travelled all the way to earth to defeat turns out to be some ragged old broken down machine, but at the same time, it's an extremely anti-climatic finish to an otherwise good game.
Master of Weapon. One attack, homing orbs. That's it. The hand can't even reach you, and the orbs can be destroyed with enough firepower. What a sad little boss.
Arrow Rush. The absolute worst. I literally didn't move the entire fight and he died. Why I think this is the worst of the bunch though, is that while Master of Weapon and Slap Fights bosses can be hard, this one is pretty much a joke no matter what. Yes my missiles happened to take out his homing orbs perfectly so that I didn't have to move the entire fight, but even that thats only one attack that could possibly hit me, his 3 spread shot and lasers are simply pathetic.
"What? I have to fight THAT?" Yes you do, if you manage to reach the final boss in Silpheed you're in for a visual treat. And a quick death.
Best Boss Death
There is only one boss in this catagory, because his death is so epic, that it blew away all the other contenders. That would be the final boss of Thunder Force IV, and let me tell you one thing, he blows up real good.
Best Player Death
Same Same Same had my favorite method of killing the player. Once you get hit, you don't die right away. Instead, your ship bursts into flames but you can still move and shoot for about a second, then you blow up. What's so funny about this is that it's totally pointless, you can't move to safety, you can't counter some enemy by killing them, you just get to linger for a second then BOOM you're dead. How cruel.
Best Nude Scene
No, I'm not giving this one to Divine Sealing, that would be too easy. While Phelios came close with it's constant undressing of the main girl, she never got totally naked. So the unlikely winner of this catagory is Robo Aleste on Sega CD. What I find great about this one is that it's totally unexpected and out of nowhere, and somehow was left in the English versions of the game.
Two games that I was pretty brutal on in my reviews were Dangerous Seed and Viewpoint. Although I didn't really like either of these games, I thought I would share the one good thing about both of them, the music. While Viewpoint actually only has one good song, Dangerous Seed has a really great soundtrack all around. Here's a track from each game.
When I first played Eliminate Down I happened to say to Polly "Hey look, they made a Genesis version of Project Inthri 2". This was because of the similar backgrounds, with large cruisers in the background, and similar designs for the player's ship.
But to my surprise, only a bit further into the game, the similarities continued!
Here we have the initial planet descents in each game. In both, clouds rush by infront of your ship, while missiles shoot up at a 45 degree angle to shoot you. Coincidence? I don't think so!
After both, you arrive on the rocky surface of the enemy planet. Clearly, despite Eliminate Down being about 10 years older, I feel it was designed by Japanese time travellers, as I had never played it when I made Project Inthri 2, and similarities on the level of these are too perfect to ignore. This piece is surely not simply a ploy to stir up some drama in the interest of self-promotion, I would never think to do such a thing! Also, be sure to check out Project Inthri 3.
For picking the absolute worst game, I decided to take the four games that got only half a sock for their final score. These four would be XDR, Bio Ship Paladin, Xenon 2, and Viewpoint. While Action 52 didn't get any socks, I can't really consider it a game. But not wanting to actually play these piece of shit games again, I decided to turn to my ultra bestest friend Polly! And if there is one thing Polly loves, it's shitty games!
Well, well, how fucking nice of you. Leaving me to judge the god damn Prettiest Turd 2008 Competition, while you sit over there playing the good shit. Thanks, dickweed.
Since we're here, I might as well turn shit into diarrhea and have a stab at these games, though by the time I'm finished, stabbing Rhete may be the only stabbing going on..
I judged the following four games based on two deciding factors. The first being a stopwatch method. Quite simply, this means when I started playing the game, I started a timer, and by the time I decided I'd had enough and quit marked down each game's survival time. Though it's a neat stat to list with each brief write-up, the most important and deciding factor lies in exactly how each game made me feel and what emotions it forced out of me. So, here we go!
4th Place: Viewpoint
While I agree there's a lot wrong with this game, from what I've played of it, I can't say it drove me to the point of considering it one of the worst ever. It's a pretty neat idea, but this view just isn't very intuitive for shmupping. It didn't drive me crazy, but it did force a couple "fucks" out of me here and there, because the point of view really is a bitch to judge bullet distance from. The slowdown sucks too. This one probably turned out better on Neo-Geo/Arcade, anyway. I think I'll try them someday.
Reason for Quitting: Slowdown and I just didn't feel like going through Stage 2 all over again. Stopwatch Time: 15:29
3rd Place: Xenon 2: Megablast
My god, this one's just laughable. I know the Amiga originals are probably much, much better than this pile of shit. I don't think I've ever played a game on Genesis that only ran like 8 frames per second. Surely, that's some kind of accomplishment. I don't know if I can even express in words how unremarkable this game is. The game is just so fucking boring I honestly can't think of shit to say about it. It's just....bleh.
Reason for Quitting: Was there even a reason for starting? Stopwatch Time: 5:36
2nd Place: Bio Ship Paladin
Another game that brings some interesting ideas to the table, but botches them so dreadfully that quitting the game really didn't make me feel like I may be missing out on something. It's so fucking slow and enemy patterns look like something out of a half-developed Flash game. Greatest power up in the world? GETTING BIGGER! Just what I want, my ship to be EVEN MORE succeptable to attack. Fucking GENIUS I TELL YOU! It's that kinda innovation that landed this one 2nd place even though it lasted longer than Xenon.
Reason for Quitting: Too. Fucking. Slow. No I do NOT want to continue. Stopwatch Time: 6:17 (I lost interest long before the five minute mark, but the game's speed made the session longer.)
1st Place: XDR: X-Dazedly-Ray
Yes, it's just as fucking terrible as they say. No other title deserves this award more than X Dazedly Ray. This game really should just stop and ask itself, "Why the fuck am I here?" It's the most ridiculously basic and annoying shmup I've ever played. The big fucking problem with this game is just the fact that the controls feel all wrong. No matter what fucking speed you set your ship at, enemy attacks will find you. That or you'll just fucking run into walls and ground like I did half the fucking time. This game believed that whole bullshit Big Bird spiel on Sesame Street about practice makes perfect, because every death in the game sets you RIGHT BACK TO THE START OF THE STAGE! WOOOOOO PRACTICE! In the span of time I spent trying to play in this puddle of vomit I went through all lives and continues and honestly saw no reason to try again. This game fucking sucks because it has no ambition. It wants to be the most basic shooter you ever played and it can't even fucking do that right. It's about nineteen rungs below mediocre. I think we could find an NES shooter that managed to at least squeeze more out of the genre than this stale pile of shit. Oh and your title is fucking stupid too, cockface.
Reason for Quitting: I hate you X Dazedly Ray. Stopwatch Time: 4:56
A big heaping pile of shit in your little awards ceremony. Think twice before you make me do anything like that ever again, fucker...
And now for best game. It's like worst game, but opposite, and a lot more fun! This time I'm taking the five games that got perfect 4/4 sock scores, and playing through them all over again with a more critical eye, to find the one that stands apart as best. Who will it be? Read on to find out!
I was almost hesitant to play this game again, as it was the first game I gave four socks. It came very early in my list, so I had to wonder if after playing around 50 games since I first reviewed it, it would still hold up as a great game.
I guess the first thing I noticed replaying it, is that it really isn't much to look at. It's not ugly either, but very simplistic overall. Luckily this does mean you won't be mistaking enemies and bullets for the background, but the game still isn't much to look at. The music isn't that great either, especially the boss theme which gets reused every stage, even for the last boss. Again, it's not horrible, but it's not something that will stay with you days after you beat the game.
But, I have to say, I still really like this game. One word: Gameplay. Whip Rush has perhaps the best gameplay of any shooter on the Genesis. It keeps you on your toes constantly, and there is a surprising amount of strategy involved. the balance between maintaining your options, which allow you to shoot in multiple directions, and getting weapon upgrades, which act as your lifebar, is very interesting. It's not just a brainless pick one weapon and max it affair like some other games. The game also has a heavy emphasis on dodging, with some very unique traps planted for you in every stage. Even after playing every shooter that was released afterwards, Whip Rush still has enemies, bosses, and obstacles that feel fresh and unique.
However, there are a few flaws. While most bosses can be taken out with just a rightward shot, the Stage 5 boss will have none of that. He almost insists you attack him from below, and while you can narrowly get just to the left of his weak point, attacking with just a default shot and nothing else is hard as hell. Overall he's either tedious as hell if you attack from below, as he doesn't have a good offense, or he's near impossble without the right weapons.
The other snag is the final boss, who simply has too much life. He swings his two metal arms around with reckless abandon, and while there is a lot of strategy involved in reading their movement to figure out where to dodge next, they also block his head from damage, in addition to his head not being vulnerable all the time. It's better than the last boss being a total pushover, but since the final stage only has two powerup containers, he's very close to being impossible to beat.
Overall Whip Rush, to me, is still a great underrated classic. It may not look or sound like much, but it's simply fun to the core.
Well, Musha proved to me once again that it's still the master of two things: Speed and Intensity. Everything in this game seems to be designed around these two themes, with most stages having you barreling through at breakneck speed, and enemies appearing non stop only to get mowed down by your attacks.
One thing I'd forgotten about this game is how good the soundtrack is, hard rock done Genesis style. It's unique, and it works, and it doesn't let up the entire game.
While Whip Rush is more of a slow strategic shooter, this one is a much more offensive, fast paced shooter. It's really hard to judge them, but I think I'd have to give the nod to Musha, as it's few flaws are not as annoying. A few stages are a bit long, particularly the very easy stage 1. The only major flaw I can find with Musha is again the last boss, who's first form attacks by just bouncing a large ball around the screen. It seems to have a square hitbox, so sometimes you'll get killed barely grazing it, and sometimes you can get half your body into it and be fine. Compared to the rest of the game having large and varied robots to destroy, a large ball for a last boss is a bit peculiar.
However, that's pretty much it for my list of issues with this game. There is very little to complain about with this game. It's nearly perfect.
The first time I played this game, I felt it was far too easy because I went with the automatic aiming options. This time in order to challenge myself a bit, I went with something else, the rotating options. One of the things I praised this game for initially is also it's biggest flaw I guess. Having tons of playstyles and weapons means it's very difficult to keep them all balanced, and designing a game where certain modes can fire in all directions with ease, and some can only fire forward, is going to lead to a lot of difficulty issues.
There aren't many, but there are a few areas where certain weapons seem unable to actually deal with the challenges the game throws at you. In this area, you basically HAVE to be able to shoot down in order to kill the laser turrets guarding the escape route. They shoot left to right so there's almost no way to get past them without killing a few. The rotating options proved disastrous here, as I had limited time to kill and escape. I can't even imagine how you'd do this part with the gradius style options firing straight right all the time.
Areas like this wouldn't be a problem in other games, but Gley Lancer is another one of those "1 hit, back to the checkpoint" style games, so you can't just sacrifice a life and move on when the game decides to be unfair. Overall, the checkpoints seem overly far apart, some stages only having a single checkpoint right before the boss appears.
Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh though, this is still a great game. It's sort of the perfect example of a side scrolling outer space shoot em up. Tons of short fun stages with varied bosses. The problem though, is that the game also doesn't really do anything unique or amazingly well, it just has a lot of polish and does everything reasonably well. It's the kind of game that if you're a fan of the genre you'll feel you've played before, even if you haven't.
Lords of Thunder
Why is this game so easy, seriously. Since I breezed through it the first time on normal difficulty, I decided to put it up to hard this time... only to find that because I already know the game, it felt even easier. I think the problem with the difficulty stems from the fact that since you can pick your stage order, the first six stages are all basically the same difficulty, as any of them could be placed as stage 1. The first stage you pick will be the hardest stage, as you start out with barely any money, a low magic bar, heck, your lifebar doesn't even start out full! But once you get going and can max out all your stats between stages, the game just seems to breeze by while you watch, and the only thing you're actively doing is collecting more money from dead enemies. There is one more difficulty above Hard, I'm surprised I'll probably have to start playing that for this game to possible challenge me.
Silpheed is like a fine wine. Taking a step back from it, playing some other games, then coming back, has only made me realize even more so how amazing this game is. And this time, I'm not just talking about the graphics.
Like Musha, Silpheed is a game based around two things, speed and intensity. But while the backgrounds do a lot to stimulate those feelings, I didn't 100% realize until this playthrough how important the enemies in this game are as well. Almost every enemy in Silpheed moves fast, attacks from all angles, and right when you don't want them to. Instead of large enemies that take several shots to take down, almost everything in Silpheed dies in easily, but appears in fleets or 4 or 5. They quickly fly through their pattern, attack, then dart off the screen as fast as they appeared. It keeps you on your toes constantly, and it's difficult to keep up on everything going on.
The lifebar system also keeps the game intense, I find myself flinching at every hit, and every time powerup capsules appear, praying for a shield restore. There's nothing quite like defeating a boss when your lifebar is actually under 0, your ship is so damaged that the engine and weapons are malfunctioning, causing you to move slower and attacks not work. It's tense as hell, and it's awesome.
The only flaw with this game is that the last boss, while cool, is FUCKING HARD. You don't even get a full lifebar going into the fight, you just pop right out of Stage 11 and into the fight, and when you die, it's back to stage 11 again! But, given that almost every last bost on this list has some major flaw, I'll let this one slide.
So! Who won this shakedown? It was damn hard for me to rank these, as I like all of them, but I'm pretty happy with this list:
So Musha takes the title of Best Genesis Shooter, and Silpheed narrowly beats it as Best Overall. But really you can't go wrong with any of these games. Whip Rush in particular, seems to be criminally underrated and unnoticed.
So to Silpheed, I present to you, the golden sock!
I'm sure you all saw this one coming. The final award, goes to the legendary Zero Wing, a game which is pretty much only known for it's introduction sequence. Enjoy!