What started out as an enjoyable and fullfilling game, quickly turned into a trudge fest of epic proportions. I cannot think of another game ever that has been so promising and then such a letdown due to the extreme difficulty it transforms into.
For those of you who don't know, Henry Hatsworth (the awesomely stereotypically English gentleman above) engages in a typical platformer on the top screen of the DS while a match three puzzle scrolls by on the bottom. As enemies are killed on the top screen, they take the place of a colored block in the puzzle and then you need to transfer to the bottom screen (which pauses the upper screen platforming) and match three with the enemy as one of the three to get rid of him. Failure to do so will bring them back up to the top screen as a wickedly devious and hard to kill flying block. Think birds on Castlevania with an attitude and then you get the idea.
The game starts off easy - waaaaaaay easy - and introduces you to the cast of characters whom are all lovable and fun, including your nemesis Weaselby. You learn basic attacks and how the systems work. Then, somewhere around level three it starts to hate you. 3-6 (the boss of world 3) seems to be the breaking point for a lot of people, but I made it through ok, but I finished wondering just how hard world 4 was going to be.
Really, really hard as it turns out.
I played through the 4th world, stumbling here and there and got pissed at the DS a few times, slinging it into a corner, upsetting a few cups on my desk in the process. But it was the 4th world boss that took the cake. I must have played him 20-30 times, just brutally going forward, trying to beat it through sheer dogged determination, which frankly, did nothing. Then I studied his patterns, milked the puzzle for upgrades and eeked out a win. I was stoked and at that point, I knew that world 5 was the last level in the game and I was determined to beat it.
I played 5-1 another 20 or so times and eventually started only playing one life at a time due to the sheer level of frustration involved. It was beyond brutal, but I needed to pass 5-1. I eventually did, stopping frequently in the puzzle world to fully charge up my hearts, add bonuses and change into the powered-up robot which happens after connecting a number of three's in the puzzle world.
Somehow, I beat 5-2 in one shot and felt that maybe I could actually finish this game. I had read on a few forums that 5-1 and 5-2 were the hardest levels in the final world and that the last two were just really, really long, but not as hard. I set at 5-3, determined to make it through. Around two days into playing the world, my resolve was broken. I was back to playing a life at a time and the frustration was exceptional. I began to hate this game and decided that in order to preserve my mental health, I would sell it or trade it, which I ended up doing on Goozex.
It wasn't that the game needed just a high level of skill to beat it. There were so many cheap areas where you could only move a little forward, take out an enemy, then forward again to take out another one and so on. It wasn't like Mega Man, where you have really tough platforming with tricky enemy placement. It was like taking some average platforming and scattering a ton of enemies with a myriad of different attacks on them and then somehow trying to stay on said platforms while enemies were shooting, jumping and pounding the ground all around you. Not going to happen. The levels are designed ok, but its the enemies and enemy placement that really kills it. Typically, you'll slug through a number of them and then wait to use puzzle bonuses to power back up, but this takes alot of time and there are very infrequent checkpoints, making it very, very tedious to beat a level.
I'm not sure what the hell EA was thinking when they shipped the game with that kind of ramp up in difficulty. It obviously is targeted to casual players with the puzzle elements, but there is no way a casual player could beat this. Unless they could 1 life Castlevania III without trying.
At long last, I have a Batsugun pcb to call my very own!
I fell in love with this game after playing the hell out of it on the Saturn and just had to get the pcb after playing it at Dave_K's place.
I have played only a credit on it before my run this evening and I think I am going to switch back to Normal Version and try for the 1cc in that. I've made it to the last boss a few times, but never have beaten him. I know him well enough now that I don't think that will be much of a problem.
Now with Ketsui and Battle Garegga, I have my three favorite STG's. I'm very happy.
Spent the better part of the morning platying Recca and trying to break 500K in Score Attack and ended up with this high score. The key is definitely to charge your bomb as much as possible to keep those points rolling in. It's a tough thing to work out, but as this score moves me up into third place after being bumped off the bottom of the table, I'd have to say I'm pretty happy with my progress.
The Time Attack score is sloppy, but I'm pretty happy with it. I know the first stage inside and out, but have no real patterns for the second stage, so I'm working on that. I think sub-4 minutes is very possible.
Started playing this again for the first time in years. It's amazing how far my skill set for shmups has come as I have only dropped about seven or eight credits into the game in the last two days and made it to 1-5 this morning. A couple dumb mistakes cost me two lives with full bomb counters, so I could have gone farther.
I'm kind of just playing to see if I get back into it, trying it out to see if it grabs me and for the moment, it has.
My old high score was something like 14 or 15 mil and it took me a long time playing to achieve that back in the day and it took me all of five plays this afternoon to beat it.
I've been playing it using a Sega Saturn HORI Fighting Stick I got from someone on the shmups board and it works pretty well, though, I was much more fluid when I played it on Dave_K's cab this past weekend.
Started playing again this evening and got a bit higher score, but the main reason I am posting it is that I got a perfect chain of the first part of stage 1 for the first time - 187 hit. Felt so good.
I think this is one of Toaplan's best efforts. I really like the music, I really like the atmosphere, I like the graphics and I am enjoying the hell out of the gameplay.
I finally got through the third boss without dying and noticed that there is rank in the game! It can get pretty tough - enemies shoot faster and faster bullets the longer you go without dying. Once I did die, it went back to normal. It's pretty much the same as the rank in V-V.
Made it all the way to the boss of stage 4 and tanked it to set a new high score of 1,111,970.
I keep moving from game to game this week, but I needed a change from Batsugun and Twin Cobra.
When I got this a few months back, I played it a few times, but got hooked on V-V for a while and didn't put moch more time into it, so this is the first time I have really played it for score.
This has to be one of Toaplan's best. Not only is the music fantastic, the graphics are by none other than Joker Jun and really look fantastic. There's a number of places where the parallax scrolling uncovers things in the background and your eyes are drawn to the beautifully detailed sprite buildings and futuristic citys that roll beneath your ship.
So, I figured this is as good a score as any for the first night of serious play. There is apparently 4 loops (!) and 8 stages per loop, so its a pretty long game, but fantastic nonetheless.
My best credit for the night got me a final score of 1,039,350, dying at the stage 3 boss. I ended up credit feeding a few runs to learn his patterns, so I might be hitting the fourth stage soon with any luck.
Made it past stage 5 and it just gets brutal. I think my game ran to the seventh stage, but at that point, I was in the zone, just blasting along, tapping the hell out of the A button, so I have no idea how many more stages I made it past. Died off after losing my power-ups and just caved in, setting a new high score of 783,490 at area 125.
I have to say, it's pretty addictive for a really old school game.
Found it on the cheap over at klov and had to get it. Toaplan just hit their stride when they made this in 1987 - the same year they dropped Hishou Zame (Flying Shark, Sky Shark) - and it has to be one of their all-time best.
The graphics and OST are exceptional for 1987 they and really shine on the 29" monitor in my Astro City. The sound effects themselves are awesome, with very addictive explosions and shot sounds.
The gameplay is so fluid after a time that you totally zone out and get totally sucked into the game. Some sections are pretty intense and require some deft movements and the satisfaction from clearing them really drive you to keep playing.
I started playing when I got home from work and made it through stage 3 pretty quickly on one credit, never having done that before in mame. I kept pounding away, even burning some chicken I was cooking because I ended up playing a credit when I should have been watching the stove.
On my last run, I made it pretty far into stage 5 and then made a few costly errors and couldn't recover. I destroyed my old high score of ~280K to set a new high of 639,950.
Super fun game and easily had on klov for under $50 (mine was $35 shipped) - a steal for burgeoning Toaplan fans.
I'm a huge fan of the game, consider it to be one of the greatest shmups of all-time and quite possibly one of the finest video games ever produced, so it was a little hard distancing myself from that to try and be objective, if only slightly so.
Kudos to EOJ at Cave-STG for letting me do the review of such a treasured Cave classic.