| paleface [sys=X360; cat=Shooter_Horiz; loc=JPN] |
|Upgraded port of an arcade shooter ("Otomedius") by Konami, very much in the vein of its old "Parodius" series of shooters that parodied its very popular "Gradius" shooter series.|
This time around the graphics are 3D, but the gameplay remains 2D side-scrolling shooter action; each stage even starts out with the very tired old shtick of up/down/up/down strings of enemy waves, just like in Gradius all those years ago. Weapon powerups also work the exact same way as the previous series: you pick up power objects as you blow up enemies, and these can be used to "buy" gun and bomb upgrades, either manually, or semi-automatically. Other upgrades include the usual variation of laser types, shields, "option" gun pods, etc.
There's more to it than that, though, such as progress charts, grades of your performance, and some sort of four-element power system that none of us really understood, although it might have something to do with each of the six or so playable characters having an affinity of some kind for various elements--exactly how that affects gameplay, we couldn't figure. The menus are thick and almost entirely in Japanese.
All but one of the characters are female, and the anime-esque flesh on display is predictably gratuitous. The characters have different weapon types, and there's a good deal of chirpy talking as they fly through the levels, inexplicably communicating with a large girl face that sometimes appears inexplicably, and in very distracting fashion, immediately in front of them--even during pitched battles.
Gameplay is the usual Gradius style, where you fly from left to right through obstacle-strewn scrolling stages, blowing away waves of small enemies, to face a large boss at the end who has a vulnerable core whose shields you have to shoot off before he/she/it can be dispatched.
The game tries to achieve the cartoony, wacky appeal of the Parodius games, but that seems to be much harder to do in high-rez (not widescreen, however) 3D, and the characters usually come off as rather stiff. In other words, I wasn't charmed.
This might also have had something to do, though, with the game's dismal color schemes; even while cruising through colorful cartoon pirate/Egyptian/ice/etc worlds, there's a sort of hazy look to the whole thing, and this lack of contrast produces some eye strain, particularly when it comes to the bullets your ship is firing, which almost invariably blend right in with the background. Enemy bullets are bright orange and easy to pick out, thankfully, so at least the game isn't unplayable, but it isn't as fun as the older games it's trying to imitate.