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Assault Suits Valken
  opened by paleface at 23:36:13 10/11/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:25:50 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_Horiz; reg=JPN]
An X-Nauts remake of some old Psikyo game, I think it (the old one) was known in the US as "Cybernator" or something. Anyway I never played it (the old one).
Here the graphics are high-res 2D (no progressive scan support though, of course :p) and look super nice. There are always huge sprites flying around as well as nice transparencies and particle effects. I sure hope this is a sign of things to come, because high-res 2D needs to hit gaming big-time.
It's primarily a horizontal shooter, although parts have taller areas that you can king of free-roam in a bit. You can't exactly tell from the screenshots but your mecha dude is really large on screen, at least for a shooter. Sure it looks keen, but try moving around and dodging shots, and you will find that you are one big frickin' target. The badguys are huge too, for the most part (grr those tiny turrets on stage 2...), and you have an incredibly effective shield on one arm (hold R1 to block), but still, it can take some getting used to for those accustomed to manic-style shmups where your hitbox is a single pixels.
No, here you're a big lumbering ox. You don't move real fast most of the time, and you have to deal with some momentum when changing direction. So get used to using that shield often! Your life meter can take a bunch of hits, and you'll need it to. There are at least four or five weapons, but by the end of stage two you only have two of them (three if you count the punching attack). They blow stuff up okay, I guess.
Adding to the lumberingness of the vehicle are the controls--there are a lot of them, and I'm not very good with them yet. In addition to the aforementioned block button, you have several buttons that help you move: a Dash, that lets you move fast for short bursts along level ground, and Jump. Hitting Jump again in midair lets you fire your jets and get some more lift, and you need a lot of lift to move your big metal butt! And then there's Shoot and Weapon switch. That's five buttons! This is not a fast action game! You have to block and think!
Speaking of rocketing around, although this is sorta a horizontal shooter, you spend at least half the hoofing it around and jumping. It goes like this: in the intro stage, you fly through space horizontally, and you have all the weapons--this is just a ruse, though, as you can't really take damage or hurt the boss, it just times out very quickly. Ugh. Then in stage 1 you're platforming, and then in stage 2 you're flying again. So it kind of mixes things up I guess.
Due to the big hitbox and slow movement, oh and the huge bullets and things the enemies aren't shy about shooting at you, you take a lot of hits, shield or no. The game is hard. I've yet to beat the second stage boss, although I think I'm making progress--then again the last time I got to him I didn't really even see him, because I died instantly when about eight jet-propelled asteroids suddenly blasted across the screen and smashed me all at once. Ow. The first two bosses ain't easy because they take a lot of hits and they have an endless supply of sidekick things that shoot at you all the time. Oh and if you don't kill the first one quick enough, it's game over anyway.
And if that happens, I urge you to Continue, at least until you expend your three credits. Why? Because if you don't you'll have to sit through the long intro sequence and fake level again, and all the other little sequences between levels, and you can't skip them except for the scrolling story text right at the end of them. And you have to sit there clicking through dialogue. It is horrible. Game people, please never make unskippable cutscenes again. It is bad.
So what with unskippable cutscenes, lumbersome movement and really high difficulty, this is not a game you can plunge into lightly. I think it's probably pretty good once you get over those frustrations as best you can, so hopefully I will have the courage to get better at it.
  paleface 23:41:08 10/11/04
Download added: jumpingradio.jpg (20206 bytes)
  "Jump-jetting, and it is really annoying when the game pauses you suddenly for a radio message."
Oh I forgot, one of the main things here is that you can lean your mech, and thus shoot up and down as well as horizontally. Again takes some getting used to, and then if you run left or right it straightens your gun out, which isn't always what you want. Maybe there's a way to lock it in place?

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