| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_Vert; loc=JPN]
|I've talked about Sol Divide before (see entry 253) and I'm not much more impressed with it here, even though on the PS2 it has I think a bit more color, sound and animation. This version, however, is a direct arcade port, complete with warning screen and all, and it does not include the "RPG" mode found in the earlier PS1 port (nor the icky rendered intro, whew!).
Dragon Blaze, however, has never been ported anywhere before this, and everything appears to have made it over perfectly intact from the arcade version (see entry 775). Now that I can play it at my leisure, I can say for certain that this is now right up there with the Gunbird games (see entry 428) as far as vertical shooters go.
What helped a lot is finding that the dragon-dismount move is a really powerful melee-style attack, and you can use it over and over without draining meter (melee attacks drain meter in GB2), although you have to recall your dragon and remount in between hits. Oh, and whereas you normally get a little collection of silver coins when taking out a baddie, if you bash them with the dismount move, you get a pile of gold coins in addition. Big points! So you want to melee attack as frequently and efficiently as possible.
Not even trying to cover the gorgeously rich 2D graphics, the game feels like an extension and refinement of Psikyo's systems. The melee attack is now fully incorporated; the random stage arrangement and dynamic difficulty scaling works to perfection, and always keeps me on my toes; the character selection is unusually balanced and useful--that is, you don't have half of the characters being relatively underpowered or inefficient in some significant way.
The character selection, though, is really the only area I can think to try dinging the game, as it provides only four characters, and doesn't have much interaction with them between stages. This ain't a cute-em-up like the Gunbirds, and there are no conversations between characters, neither the playable ones nor the NPC bosses. Part of me wants to lament this, but really the action comes so thick and fast that you don't miss the character sidelights too much.
|Download added: trilobyteboss.gif (77228 bytes)
"Dragon Blaze: you know it's bad when a giant trilobyte busts out of a tank and shoots at you."
D-oh! That last one was Dragon Blaze.
|Was so pleased with Dragon Blaze that I forgot to mention one slight annoyance in this double-port: no auto-save.