| paleface [sys=DC; cat=Shooter_Vert; loc=JPN]
|Port of a vertical arcade shooter from Warashi (makers of Shienryu--see entry 358) with quite a gimmick: you can pluck up enemy ships with a tractor beam of sorts, spin them rapidly around your own, much tinier ship, using them as a big club, if you like, and hurl them smashing into other ehemy ships at deadly velocity (plus, big gold bonus points!).
This is actually pretty fun once you get the hang of it--and hang you must, because pretty quickly, being able to snatch and throw enemy ships at the right times and locations becomes the key to survival, as you're otherwise deluged in too many thick bullet streams to get across the screen.
The default control scheme has you spin tractored ships around you by waggling the joystick. I don't know if this worked better in the arcade, somehow, but I found it really tricky to do this way, and usually just waggled myself into hostile bullets. Fortunately, there's a handy menu option to let you auto-spin captured ships. This I recommend.
The game has a cutesy anime sci-fi style exemplified by the two over-cute girls who pilot the two playable robot ship things (Triggerhearts): Exelica and Cruel Tear. Those are the ship names, I think, not the girl names. Exelica has a basic spread shot while Cruel Tear has a more concentrated vertical stream. "Select yo triggah hah," a heavily accented female Japanese voice tells you, and you choose your maiden/robot of choice, and off you jet upscreen. (No co-op mode, though, even though there are two different ships--it's flyin' solo for you, lassie!) There's a "story" mode where you see girl pictures popping up here and there to tell you things, and they do anime girl things like shouting pertly when they throw a ship, and so forth.
So, the ship throwing is tricky, but it's different, and pretty satisfying when you get a really good huck of an enemy ship that fills half the screen. I'm not really any good at it, I'll admit, and have yet to get all that far in the game, because it does get really tough with required constant throwing after stage 2 or so. Dunno if I'll ever make it much further than that...just as well, I suppose, since the end boss (I had a heretical friend credit-feed all the way there) plays a constant full-screen red strobe effect that really does seem like the designers are saying "so, our final boss robot is too easy for you? Hah! Can you beat...epilepsy?!?" It's really awful. I was covering my eyes with my palms the whole time, and I could still kind of see the flashing. Thank goodness I'll never get that far myself.
Aside from the over-cuteness, the flinging, and the seizure-inducing, Triggerheart is pretty standard. The 3D graphics are colorful, but not particularly eyecatching or high-poly. Enemy ship designs and bullet patterns are pretty mediocre, aside from bullet density later on, which is hefty. The game supports VGA and rotated vertical "tate" mode.
Although I realize Exelica is not a great game, and I live in dread of that last stage, and I stink at ship-flinging, I still like the darn thing. Maybe it's the leggy anime girls, maybe it's the grabbing and chucking, maybe it's the rainbow colors everywhere, but anyway it does have a certain charm, even though you know you ought to be playing some much more *relevant* shooter like...oh well you know the ones.
|Download added: stage2_exelica.mpg (5969924 bytes)
"Exelica grabs and flings on stage 2."
Oh! I did forget to mention that when you meet an enemy you can't tractor beam (bigger ships take longer to pick up, but you'll see a progress meter if they're pick-uppable), you can use the tractor beam button to lock-on to the guy, so you can just hold down the fire button without having to worry about details like aiming--and this is necessary, because at these points the game loves to throw tons of bullets at you.