|This disc is one step away from being the greatest (legal) game compilation of all time: if the thought of one hundred and one quality vertical shoot-em-ups on a single game disc doesn't get you a bit excited, you can just stop reading this page right now and go back to your stamp collection or whatever it is you do for kicks.
For those still with me, the single caveat is a big one for me but may or may not be for you: there's no "tate" mode for all these shooters. *sigh* Still, it isn't as bad as an arcade shooter port missing "tate" mode, since these were designed (by fans, apparently) with the PlayStation "Dezaemon Plus" vshmup creation tool and thus intended for normal horizontal monitors anyway (with or without sidebars) so it doesn't feel like the graphics are all squished and icky despite not being "tate."
Not that the graphics will blow you away, either--decidedly 8- or 16-bit-looking, sometimes with a "I am tile set 2 block 10" generic look. But actually I'm surprised by how infrequently these games strike me as having been made in a "construction set" editor. Frequently offbeat and bizarre, each of the dozen or so that I've sampled so far have been highly unique with their own sprites and stage designs.
They share in common a two-button design, shoot (hold for auto) and bomb (the bomb effects could stand a little more variety), and a unifying reliance on fewer, faster enemies and bullets rather than the slow, overwhelming patterns found in many modern shooters. More of a Raiden feel than a Mars Matrix feel, you could say. I count this a good thing and it fits with the somewhat dated visuals--the occasional bout of sprite scaling and wiggling sticks out a bit but otherwise the whole package feels good hard and retro.
Though apparently made by amateurs, the games provide enough challenge and variety to give the most jaded of gamers a run for their money. If you're not completely satisfied with the games as they are you can cook up your own custom mix in the "quick edit" mode that lets you string together any ten stages that you've completed in any of the shooters and play them using any character sprite that you've used so far. Nice touch.
If you want to dig a bit deeper into messing with the games, boot up the included simplified version of the Dezaemon Plus editor to fiddle around and make your own little shooter if you have the patience to do it with big buttons and a control pad (no mouse compatibility shown on the back of the CD case). For myself, I figure the huge library of games on offer will keep me plenty busy enough.