Neo XYX Review

NeoNeo XYX (Available on Dreamcast, and Neo Geo MVS)
ESRB Rating: NA
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Shoot ‘em Up
Publisher: NG:Dev Team
Developer: NG:Dev Team
Release Date: February 17th, 2014

Parent Talk: I’d say this is a game that would easily appeal to all ages, although the pilot of your craft does yell out some rather mature dialogue every now and then.  Most people won’t even notice what is written, but that’s about the only mature elements Neo XYX has to offer.  The rest is sprite-based death from above!

Plays Like: At its core Neo XYX is actually a really simple shoot ‘em up.  There are no power-ups, just your standard shot and bombs.  The rest is dodging trillions of pink bullets, and trying to collect as many medals as possible in order to boost your score.  The one unique gameplay element is that your ship moves at a far quicker pace than most shmups, and so there’s an additional action button which slows your ship down.  It takes some getting used to, but using it properly is the difference between reaching the next stage or dying right there and then.

Review Basis: Managed to make it to stage five, but I need quite a bit more practice if I’m to complete all six stages.  These games are designed for you to revisit them over and over again in order to not only get a higher score, but also to memorize each and every enemy pattern.

For the past decade NG:Dev Team has been keeping not only the Neo Geo MVS alive, but the Dreamcast as well.  Each of their four games (Last Hope, Fast Strikers, Gunlord, and Neo XYX) began life as a Neo Geo game, and then shortly afterwards made their way to the Dreamcast.  These games are designed from the ground up to be challenging, and offer countless hours of arcade fun.  With their latest release they’ve continued that tradition.  If you long for the days of old, Neo XYX is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Neo3The Great:

This no-nonsense shmup is extremely simple, and yet for whatever reason works so bloody well.  There are no power-ups, no special gimmicks, just your ship, your bombs, and your will to survive.  There is one unique twist, which some could call a gimmick, which is that your craft moves much faster than most shmups.  This means it’s extremely easy to get out of tight spots, but almost impossible to slowly weave in and out of enemy fire.  Thus, the slowdown button.  This slows the ship’s speed down tremendously and allows you to more easily dodge incoming bullets.  Only by using both speeds will you be able to make it out alive, and even then there are no guarantees.

Neo1The Good:

+ There are also bomb fragments you can collect, which eventually reward another bomb, and believe me, you want as many bombs as you can get.

+ Medal chain system works very well.  As you defeat enemies they drop medals, continue to collect them and watch your score soar.

+ Your ship’s hit zone is incredibly small, which takes some getting used to because even if a bullet hits your ship’s wing you don’t die.  It has to hit the little bluish circular center of the plane in order for you to be killed.  This gives you some breathing room in tight spots, but it by no means makes the game easy.

+ Incredibly challenging.  At no point does the game feel cheap.  If I had to say whether or not this was a traditional shmup or a bullet hell, I’d say this one leans much more heavily towards bullet hell than traditional.  Each of the game’s six levels gets progressively tougher than the last, and by the time you hit stage five there will be pink bullets virtually everywhere.  Good luck!

+ Fantastic sprite work and amazing soundtrack and sound effects.  The sprites are nice and large with a good amount of detail to them, and the backgrounds look great.  The game runs at 60fps and is compatible with the Dreamcast’s VGA mode.  The soundtrack is one of the best parts of the game, as we’ve come to expect from NG:Dev Team.  This game looks professionally made, and that’s the biggest compliment I can give an independent studio.

+ Multiple gameplay settings, from horizontal, to vertical to even lying on the floor style.  Yes, some people actually do that.  I play in vertical mode as it was originally intended, and you should to!  It’s still nice to have the option to switch things up if the mood strikes.

+ Great quality in the packaging and instruction manual.  Yes that’s a good thing, because how many games today give you a ten page, fully-colored manual?  Yeah, virtually none.

Neo4The Bad:

– Occasional sprite-tearing.   You can see it in the video review, where the ship’s sprite is torn away, or when a bomb is cast and doesn’t display properly.  This doesn’t happen very often, but is noticeable when it does.

Neo5The Lowdown:

NG:Dev Team strikes again, with another fantastic shooter that Dreamcast and Neo Geo fans shouldn’t miss out on.  The MVS release sold out instantly so you’ll either have to wait for a reprint, or hit up eBay and pay exaggeratedly high prices.  The Dreamcast version is still available through NG:Dev Team’s website and the asking price is 34€ for the regular edition and 49€ for the collector’s edition, which includes the game’s killer soundtrack.  If you’re an old-school arcade shmup fan this is one you really don’t want to miss.  It’s fantastic!

Final Score: 8.8/10

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