| paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Shooter_Horiz; loc=JPN] |
|Something of an action-RPG in horizontal shooter clothing, you pick one of three humanoid characters and fly along various dungeony environments, fireballing, hacking or zapping digitized badguys to death in two different modes, Arcade and Original.|
Arcade is laughably short and a cake-walk too, with the minor exception of the final boss sequence in which you have to fight four bosses in a row. Individual bosses are ridiculously weak, you kind of wonder why they bothered as you can just fly up to them and pound the slash key, or hit them with two spells. The hilarious thing about Arcade mode is that many levels are exactly one enemy wave long: the level starts, a handful of enemies fly out, you kill them, the boss enters. I'm all for boss fights but c'mon, make me work a little harder to get to them!
Actually RPG mode does just that as you have to battle through lots of waves of annoyingly powerful flying things to get to each boss. You can pick up items and stick them in your large inventory, but it's kind of annoying because items are dropped by dead guys in the form of chests, and to use any of them you have to press Start, go into your inventory, unlock the chest (you do have enough keys, right? :P), and see what's inside. Gets tedious.
When you die, and you certainly will, you restart at the beginning, pretty much losing your skill levels but keeping your accumulated level and hit points. Lather, rinse, repeat. "Replay" value up the wazzoo here and rather a clever idea, I just wish it was a little more fun going through the stages over and over.
The thing of it is the characters are kind of tall, yet they fly horizontally, making big targets. Enemies fire semi-random sprays of big fat bullets and your character is so large and slow that you can't ever dodge all of them, so you just take hits and hope you have enough life meter left. So a lot of the time you just want to end things fast because you're getting pelted from every direction, so there's no reason to even try dodging and you just go in and slash slash slash until all the monsters go poof. Not a whole lot of the hair-trigger action one tends to like in shooters. If you hang back and try to shoot and dodge, the baddies invariably crowd right up to you (almost all take a large number of regular shots to kill) and then just beat on you, so really trying to play it like a shooter just doesn't work too well.
The magic spells, replacements for the normal shooter bombs, are pretty cool though, with big full-screen effects and some neat abilities like freeze, and one where you're invulnerable and on fire for a while. The digitized backdrops look okay, the digitized characters mostly look dumb. Sort of an uneven affair altogether, worth a look for the unusual RPG mode.