| paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Shooter_Vert; loc=JPN] |
|Beautifully drawn 2d vshmup from Psikyo with a sort of fantasy/steam-punk theme. Choose from five different characters, each with unique movement speed and weapons, and cruise through six or more (haven't got to the end yet) lush stages in which each part of the background appears to be uniquely hand-drawn (they probably re-use a lot of stuff, but they hide it well) with frequent animating elements such as pedestrians milling around on the ground. Each character has unique shot and bomb weapons plus a powerful charged shot attack. Each stage ends with a mighty boss battle that goes through multiple transformations in true Psikyo style.|
The characters, including the bumbling villians rather reminiscent of Time Bokan's Doronbo gang, only more realistically drawn, have a lot of personality with voice clips and little slideshow interludes at the end of each stage, oh and appearances in an elaborate anime intro to the game itself. The first three stages don't seem that tough but then, as in the sequel, the game begins to restart you at the beginning of the stage if you die, and things start to get really challenging.
I love the difficulty curve, the gameplay that relies on relatively unpatterned, seemingly random shot clusters, and character variety, the absence of real slowdown, and yes the lovely graphics. Lacking an energy meter and separate melee attack button, the game plays in simpler fashion than the sequel but the tension of holding on for a charge shot or defensive bomb is as powerful here as it is in the later game.
On the down side, the stages seem a bit shorter than in GB2, though if you try to complete the game, let along single-credit it, you are going to be at it a good long time. But prepare yourself: the PlayStation version has no rotated vertical screen mode. Noooooooo! Whyyyyyyyyyyy?!?! The Saturn version does! Uggggghhhhh!
Tateless state aside, I consider Gunbird a truly splendiferous shooter and just between you and me it makes a nice excuse for those times when I want a vshmup but am too lazy to rotate my monitor.