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XII Stag
  opened by paleface at 03:14:50 09/01/03  
  last modified by paleface at 12:25:50 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_Vert; reg=JPN]
Some righteous stick-waggling vertical shooter action--not only do you get a fun game, you'll also build up your joystick forearm muscles! Your tiny ship packs a hefty sidepunch when you move the stick rapidly from side to side--nasty piecing lasers take out just about anything beside you and, better yet, build your score multiplier up to the maximum x12 bonus.
The graphics appear to be antialiased, unusual in a low-resolution shooter, lending the whole screen a sort of hazy, indistinct look. This sounds off-putting but with the stick-waggling thrown in the experience becomes a blurry, visceral onslaught of light and dark flashes and dull roars of sound punctuated by the dial-tone voice of the computer calling out your score multiplier as the side lasers wreak havoc all around you.
In later stages the game sometimes shoots you forward at blinding velocity while simultaneously whipping fleets of enemies past you on either side--get yourself in the right place and get a good wiggling rhythm going and you'll rack up a huge score as explosions, bullets, lasers and aircraft wreckage flash by in a stunning stream of mechanized carnage. Oooh plus the later marsh stage with reflective water echoes, in somewhat blurry fashion, that oh-so-lovely marsh stage in Raiden Fighters 2.
A couple other game features worth mentioning: if you do particularly well in a stage the game may launch an additional, extra-strength sortie against you, or even make the stage boss tougher; finally, bombs have a "barrier" effect where they explode in a semi-transparent black sphere that sticks around for several seconds, blocking out all enemy attacks but not your own, so you can sit safely inside and kill survivors.
  paleface 04:18:43 02/18/05
Noticed a couple other things worth brief mention.
- No autosave. Bah!
- It has a rotated screen mode, but the port menus (config menus, etc) stay non-rotated, so you have to turn your head sideways to read them (they're mostly in English) on a tate'd monitor. Inconvenient.
- The sprites have a pre-rendered look which probably contributes to their fuzzy quality.
- The forward gun, even powered up a lot, does relatively piddly damage compared to the side waggle lasers. It's rather distressing. Even with full autofire going, just facing say some small little tanks on stage 3, you pretty much have to rush in and side-laser 'em if you want to have a chance of taking them out, and when you do that they get nice fat close-range shots at you. It's scary.
- Most of the danger comes from single or maybe clusters of two-three fast-moving bullets, particularly when you have to go in close to side-laser someone. Only a few of the bosses fire big fat bullet clusters, and even these are relatively anemic and easily avoided compared to anything you'll see in, say, a contemporary Cave shooter (such as ESPGaluda, entry 550). The bosses, in particular, are relatively wimpy--the real danger comes when you're being swarmed from all directions by small, rapid-firing vehicles.
- The bombs look neat, but they're so dark that I find myself getting lost in the effect.
- The game has a neat feature where it graphs your scoring progress between stages, comparing you with the top scorer's point curve. It's actually quite informative.
- Enemies, particularly bosses, will shoot out streams of fast bullets without warning, meaning that some memorization is required to get along, as opposed to being able to rely solely on twitch reaction. In general I'm not a fan of this sort of thing, but I've seen it worse.
- Despite what it might sound like, I still rather like this game.
  paleface 04:15:06 02/20/05
Download added: bossform1.jpg (78556 bytes)
  "The big first form of this boss is real wimpy."
You can't remap controls on the shoulder buttons, which is a pain for those using arcade sticks. L1 and R1 always map to move left/right, presumably to help DualShock users with side-laser waggling. Seems like a bit of a pain doing it that way to me, I'll stick with a stick.
· Trizeal (DC)

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