Tag Archives: Shoot ’em Up

Einhänder Review

_-Einhander-PlayStation-_Einhänder (Available exclusively on the Sony PlayStation)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Shooter
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Square
Release Date: May 6th, 1998

Parent Talk:Einhänder is rated E for everyone because it doesn’t feature any graphic violence or offensive language. This is the perfect game for everyone in the family, even young kids that are interested in spaceship shooters.

Plays Like: Virtually all shmups play the same except for a few variations here and there, and that’s absolutely correct with Einhänder. You select one of several crafts, and destroy everything on-screen. Along the way you’ll find enemy weapons you can steal, which increase your power, and if you’re really lucky you just might perform well enough to find some unlockable goodies.

Review Basis: I finished the game dozens of times over the years.

During the arcade heyday shooters, shoot ‘em ups, or shmups were the cream of the crop. Virtually every arcade game was a shooter of some sort. Some of the very earliest hits on the Famicom were also shooters, like Gradius, which was one of its first million sellers. The problem is, like all good things, there is such a thing as too much. The entire genre was over-saturated, and ultimately shooters fell out of the spotlight. Today they’re a genre dedicated to only the most hardcore fans. Bullet hell shooters tried to spice things up, but for the most part the genre is long past its prime. The same could be said in 1998, when Square took a chance and developed a shooter that was really unique. While it didn’t spark a revolution, it did prove that even in markets where almost everything has been tried multiple times before, it’s still possible to do something unique.

Ein2The Great:

Perhaps the best feature of Einhänder is its incredible use of moving camera angles. The entire game is fully rendered in 3D, but the action plays on a 2D playing field, and the camera is on rails. Often the camera will swoop in and out around your ship, sometimes even behind, and all the while you have complete control. It’s great because it makes for some really interesting boss battles, and gives the game a really unique flavor.

Ein3The Good:

+ At the game’s onset you have access to three unique ships, with another two waiting to be discovered. At any point you can adjust your ship’s velocity, which is a great touch. The game’s ‘gimmick,’ if you will, is that you have the ability to snatch over a dozen enemy weapons by destroying incoming enemies. Let’s say there’s a powerful enemy ahead that has a wicked looking rocket launcher, well as long as you destroy its body and not the gun itself, you can then steal that weapon for yourself! These unique weapons only have a limited amount of ammo, but it is great fun experimenting and finding the best one for your current situation.

+ The various ships also differ in the way they can hold different weapons. All ships can pivot their secondary weapons either over or below the craft. Some can only hold one secondary weapon, while others can hold three. Selecting the ship you feel most comfortable with is critical as you’ll need all the help you can get. This isn’t an easy shooter, and one hit sends you back to the previous checkpoint. Thankfully the adjustable difficulty levels make the game enjoyable to all.

+ Most PS1-era polygon-based videogame haven’t aged well, but Einhänder is different. It still holds up really well, with enemies nice and detailed, and the environments, while simplistic, still very much looking as they should.

+ Fantastic audio package. Not only is the soundtrack utterly fantastic, but the sound effects themselves pack a punch. This is one of those games where you’re going to want to get your hands on the soundtrack.

Ein4The Lowdown:

I’ve always enjoyed shooters, even though as I get older I find I’m getting worse and worse at them. My hand-eye coordination just isn’t what it used to be. That said, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Einhänder today, revisiting it for this review. It’s just creative enough to help separate it from the pack, but retains that classic risk versus reward the genre is known for. If you’re looking for a great shooter, look no further than Einhänder, although do be warned that it’s not cheap and is currently only available on the original PlayStation. Sorry PS3 owners, no PSN version for you.

Final Score: 8/10

Resogun Review

ResogunResogun (Available exclusively on PlayStation 4)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Shoot ‘em up
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Housemarque
Release Date: November 15th, 2013

Parent Talk: I’ve got no idea how this game scored an E10+ rating as it’s a spaceship shooter based on Defender.  Children have been playing 2D arcade shooters since the creation of the genre way back in the early 70s.  I would easily allow my children to play this game.

Plays Like: Resogun takes its inspiration from the classic Williams Electronics hit from 1980, Defender.  You fly left or right around a cylindrical world, trying to rescue the last humans while taking out all the aliens around you.  Simple as that…if only it were simple.

Review Basis: Finished all levels, and played through the game a second time in co-op mode.

When Sony announced the PlayStation 4 they went to great lengths to talk about how they’re going back to basics and focusing on the games.  They spent a lot of time talking about indie developer because that’s where all the innovation will come from.  It’s true too, as AAA titles have a budget in the tens of millions, whereas indie developers often make their games for a fraction of the cost, and are willing to take chances.  Housemarque might not be an indie developer anymore, but they surely aren’t in the same league as the big boys with operating budgets in the millions, but that doesn’t mean their games can’t stand on their own.  Incredibly, Resogun is my favorite PlayStation 4 game on the market right now, including all the big AAA releases from third parties and Sony itself.  That speaks volumes to the talent at the studio, and how much of a sucker I am for arcade classics.

Resogun1The Great:

Ridiculously simple gameplay that’s insanely challenging to master.  Based on the arcade hit Defender, players move their craft around a large cylinder trying to take out the alien armada.  Once keepers drop, destroying them will free a human.  Your goal is to “save the last humans,” while trying to stay alive yourself.  Each stage is broken up into three phases, ending with a boss fight.  Rescuing the humans is essential if you want a high score, or if you plan to make it to the end of the stage.  When you defeat the keepers a human is released from their cell and you only have a limited amount of time to pick them up before an enemy will take them out.  Returning a human to the base nets you either points or an upgrade, such as an extra life, a shield bonus, etc.

Chasing high scores is a large part of the fun and the risk and reward system is always on your mind.  If you activate a bomb, which clears the entire screen of enemies you take a good chance at losing your score multiplier since you need to continuously shoot down enemy ships in order to keep the multiplier going.  So often bombs are only used as a last resort.

Overdrive is a special blast attack that consumes a tiny green meter located around your ship.  As you defeat enemies they explode into hundreds of tiny cubes, and if you collect enough of them you’ll fill your Overdrive meter.  The trade-off is that you can’t control the length of the overdrive, in other words once you activate it it’s gone until you fill the meter back up.  Another move, the boost is far more important to master as it uses a similar meter, although you can control how long you wish to boost for.  While technically a defensive move used for when you’re about to get overrun, the boost actually releases a small explosion once you stop.  A good technique is to boost right into oncoming enemies, and watch as they all explode.

Add extremely powerful bosses into the mix, especially in the later levels, and you have one of the very best arcade shooters released in a long time.  There’s always a constant risk and reward factor to each element of the gameplay.  Do you sacrifice a human so you don’t lose an extra life, or do you take the chance and perhaps get a weapon upgrade in the process?

Things only get more intense when you add a co-op partner to the mix, which I highly recommend you do.

Resogun2The Good:

+ By using voxel (also known as 3D cubes) graphics gives the game its own unique look.  When you destroy an enemy ship it explodes into millions of tiny cubes.  On top of that the particle effects are spectacular whenever enemy ships fire at you, which is all the time.  When you combine everything together, from the enemy ships exploding, to bombs being set off, to the particular effects, you’re left with the nicest looking arcade game I’ve ever played.

+ The soundtrack is techno-infused, and fits the setting perfectly.  All voice samples play out through the DualShock 4’s internal microphone for a little extra flare.  Ship explosions also sound great and there’s lots of bass for those with a good surround sound system.

+ Fun trophy list.  Can you rescue two humans within a second of one another?  Can you kill 50 enemies using only one boost?  I love when developers put time and effort into their trophies because it gives you an incentive to actually try and collect them.

The So-So:

+/- Having only five levels, and three different ships might grate on some people’s nerves.  The three ships play quite differently from one another in terms of the weapons they have available, but the limited levels will eventually start to feel similar to one another after a while.

Resogun3The Lowdown:

Resogun is my favorite PlayStation 4 game right now.  When I purchased my PS4 at launch Resogun, like Contrast was free for PlayStation Plus members.  This is an outstanding game for free, and a great game for the asking price of $10.  If you own a PS4, this is one you really need to play.

Final Score: 9/10

Mars Matrix Review

Mars MatrixMars Matrix (Available exclusively on the SEGA Dreamcast)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Shmup
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Takumi Corporation
Release Date: April 30th, 2001

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Mars Matrix E for everyone and lists animated violence in the warning box. Like all arcade shmups (shoot ’em ups) of the time, the action is 2D sprite-based with a mix of 3D polygons, so you’re going to see lots and lots of ships exploding…mainly yours. This is the type of game I loved when I was younger, classics like Gradius and Life Force were just as violent as Mars Matrix and I turned out just fine…depending on who talk to.

Plays Like: Mars Matrix is a vertical scrolling shoot ’em up that takes no prisoners. It’s a simple to learn, impossible to master shooter. Make no mistake about it, if you’re new to the genre DO NOT start here. This game will literally destroy you. Gameplay is simple, you have one of two projectiles you can shoot, you don’t explode when smashing into enemy ships, and you can level up your craft by collecting experience cubes. Finally there’s an absorption barrier you can use if the GHB (Gravity Hole Bomb) gauge is full, which protects you for a short period of time, and can also be used to detonate a powerful screen-clearing bomb.

Review Basis: While I’d love to say I finished the game, that would be a flat-out lie. This is an early bullet hell shmup, meaning there are literally hundreds if not thousands of bullets on the screen at any given time. Like most shooters in the sub-genre, the first level is manageable, but by level two the game hand’s you your ass. If by some miracle you make it to level three, the difficulty only increases from there. I managed to make it to the fourth boss on four stars, which is the default difficulty level. Like I do with most of these retro reviews, I only played for a short period of time to reflect on a classic gem from the past. That said, I have every intention of finish all six stages.

Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you. I thought I had played Mars Matrix before, but apparently I was wrong. Steven sent me the game to review and I ended up playing it for about four hours straight after just wanting to try it out and capture a little footage for my video review. That’s always an excellent sign when a game does that to you. I was stunned by the game’s overall difficulty. Make no mistake about it, this is a shooter for fans of the genre or veterans; newbies look elsewhere. Even on easy you won’t make it very far. Since I have quite a bit of experience with shmups I stuck to the four-star difficulty, and got destroyed time and time again, loving every minute of it. I will be looking for a copy on eBay once I return the game to Steven as I really want to dig deeper into the game.

The Great:

Excellent combat system. Here’s the rundown, you can select two different ships or Mosquitos as they’re called here. The red one has normal speed, but a wideblaster or spread-shot weapon. The blue Mosquito is faster, but has a laser shot that only shoots in a straight line. Regardless of the ship you’re using, you can fire a regular shot, rapid fire, or the piercing cannon. The piercing cannon is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, but requires you get up close and personal with enemies, not always a great idea, although if your ship comes in contact with an enemy it doesn’t mean instant-death like virtually all other shmups out there. Finally there’s the Gravity Hole Bomb (GHB) gauge which slowly fills over time. Once maxed out you can activate an absorption barrier that will both absorb and reflect incoming enemy fire. If you hold down the button until the gauge is completely empty you can release a gravity hole bomb which clears the screen. It might sound like you’ve got enough behind you to stand a chance, but you’re outnumbered about a hundred-billion to one.

Mars Matrix1The Good:

+ Combo/evolving system. Destroyed enemies typically drop gold Experience Cubes. These cubes not only gives you experience, but act as a combo multiplier. The quicker you collect Experience Cubes, the more your score will increase, but so will your craft’s level. It’s possible to raise your level to eight, and in doing so your standard regular shot will also increase in power, which perfectly ties the two systems together.

+ Heavy emphasis on strategy. While it might not appear as such at first, you can actually project where enemy fire will reflect while using the GHB system. Not only that, but you don’t always have to use the full meter and deploy a bomb. Instead you can simply reflect shots back towards enemies and let go of the button. This way the meter fills up quicker.

+ Lots of replay value. Not only will it take you a long time just to finish the Arcade Mode, but then there’s the Elite Mode, which replaces enemy positions. There’s also a Score Challenge Mode which challenges you to continuously beat your previous high score.

+ One of my favorite features of the game is the store. Everything you do in the game nets you points, and all these points are tallied together and converted to cash. While the prices might seem ridiculously high at first, you quickly realize after an hour of playing that they’re just right. Not only can you unlock the art gallery, which is awesome, but also gameplay features like additional credits (continues), strategies (actual video tutorials showing a perfect play-through of the level), and much, much more. This extends the replay value astronomically.

+ Audio visual presentation holds up surprisingly well even some 12 years after the game’s release. I played this with my VGA-to-HDMI upscaler and the game looked great. Sprites popped from the screen, there were lots of fancy special effects thrown in for good measure, and only minimal slow-down, and slight pixelation here and there. Overall, it’s one highly detailed shmup. The audio is also rocking, with great techno music and strong sound effects.

The So-So:

+/- While not really falling in a good or bad category, Mars Matrix is a one-credit scorer. What does that mean, it means that once you’ve used up all your lives your high-score will be registered. It is replaced the second you hit the continue or credit button. The continues basically let you progress just a bit further and practice, but for the high scores to count, you need to go back to the beginning and try all over again.

Mars Matrix2The Lowdown:

Most people will find Mars Matrix way too hard, but therein lies its charm. It forces you to keep playing in order to unlock more continues from the store. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. The store adds new gameplay tweaks, there’s the Elite Mode to tackle, and much, much more. For a game released at the tail end of the Dreamcast’s life, it holds up supremely well. If you enjoy shmups, and are just starting to collect for the Dreamcast, this is one you need to have in your collection. It’s fantastic fun that will keep you coming back for more.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Sturmwind Review

Sturmwind ReviewSturmwind (Available exclusively on SEGA Dreamcast)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Shoot ’em up
Publisher: redspotgames
Developer: Duranik
Release Date: April 23rd, 2013

Parent Talk: As an indie release Sturmwind has not been submitted to the ESRB or any other rating board. It features lots of explosions, and some highly unique and creative enemy and boss designs that the very young might find scary, but anyone over 10 should easily be able to enjoy everything Sturmwind has to offer.

Plays Like: Sturmwind is mostly a horizontal shoot ’em up (shmup), however there are sections where vertical scrolling takes place. Core gameplay reminds me of Radiant Silvergun in that you already have all your weapons right from the get-go. The main difference is that weapons can be powered up, and act as your health meter. There are 16 levels spread across seven worlds, 20 unique bosses, and hundreds of enemies. In every way, shape and form this feels like a AAA release from Irem, Treasure, or another popular shmup developer.

Review Basis: Duranik was kind enough to send us a review copy. I played it on and off for about six days until I beat it on easy, now working my way through normal.

Sturmwind began its life as Native for the Atari Jaguar CD, way back in 1997. From there it switched names, platforms, and was delayed many times. Usually that’s a sign that things aren’t going to turn out so well, but in this case it was mainly because Duranik demanded the best quality possible prior to release. The end result of all those years of development is without a doubt the very best indie game I have ever played. This is an outstanding effort and just goes to show that if you have devotion and believe in something strong enough, anything is possible. Don’t bother reading this review, just go out and pick Sturmwind up right now.

Sturmwind5The Great:

AAA quality through and through. There’s no real way of saying it, the video review speaks for itself. This is a game that looks outstanding, as if it’s pushing the Dreamcast to its very limits. There are literally dozens upon dozens of special effects going on at any given time. There are also interactive backgrounds, multi-layered stages, tons of enemies on-screen at once and a rock solid frame-rate. The game warns you when a background comes alive so you don’t accidentally ram into it, and enemy bullets are always clear. If you die, it’s your fault, not the game’s. There’s even a full-motion video introduction! You simply don’t expect to see this level of polish in an indie release like this, no matter how long it may have been in development. This is one game that begs to be played in 480p with a VGA adapter. If you can upscale the image to 720p or 1080p even better. It looks incredible.

Sturmwind4The Good:

+ Wonderful gameplay. The system is extremely simple, and works perfectly. At the start of the game you have access to all three different weapons, LightBlitz (L), NordWest (N), and Rudel (R). You can switch between the weapons on the fly, and it’s required as each one has its strengths and weaknesses against different situations. When a weapon container drops , you can fire at it to cycle between an additional 1,000 points, L, N, or R power-ups. Power-ups take on the form of a drone, and players can collect two per weapon. Weapons can also be fired behind your craft, and so can the drones. A good strategy is to have the two drones fire behind the ship and your main weapon fire in front, but you can mix and match as you see fit. There’s also a charge shot, and bombs, which wipe out everything on the screen.

+ Weapons act as your health meter. Even if you max out all your weapons, as soon as you get hit whatever weapon you had equipped is destroyed. You also have to be careful when using the charge shot because if you hold it too long it will overheat and explode, causing you to lose said weapon. Lose all three weapons and you lose a life. Thankfully you can fix your broken weapon by finding the corresponding power-up from a weapon container.

+ Strategy and switching. Not only do you have to constantly be switching your weapons for strategic gameplay, like using the LightBlitz underwater because it’s the strongest there, but you have to be mindful of which power-up you grab. Let’s say a weapon container drops and you fire it until it switches to N, but your craft is still using LightBlitz, if you don’t switch to NordWest you will have wasted the power-up. It takes some serious getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, the system adds an entirely unique layer of strategy and quick thinking to the game.

+ Wave bonuses are addicting. Shoot every single enemy of a particular wave and you’re awarded a ‘Wave Bonus,’ which you actually see on the screen. If you can shoot all the letters quickly enough before they disappear you’re awarded a star, which acts as a multiplier. Get good enough at the game and you can achieve some pretty incredible high scores.

+ Two distinct gameplay modes, Normal and Arcade. Normal mode features all 16 levels and your progress is saved once you finish a level. This also unlocks a level-select, which is great for newbies as they can continuously replay whatever stage is giving them problems. The Arcade mode features six levels but progress doesn’t save, and there are no continues. This mode is about as hardcore as it gets.

+ Great variety.  Most levels work as you’d imagine, where you fly from left to right destroying everything you see, but every now and then things are mixed up and an entire level will be nothing more than a giant boss fight.  Some levels add horizontal scrolling, and more.

+ Modern touches like achievements really held round out the package. Most of the achievements will keep you coming back for months to come because of how challenging they are.

+ Online leaderboards. While Sturmwind doesn’t support the broadband adapter unfortunately, it does give you an alpha numeric code which can be entered on Duranik’s website where you can compare your scores with the rest of the world. It’s a really nice touch.

+ Incredible amount of content. Unless you’re a shmup guru this game will keep you busy for weeks on end. From the two different modes, three difficulty levels, to the sheer size of the game, there’s always something to do. There’s also the achievements, and global leaderboards that are always teasing you try again tomorrow.

+ While I already talked about the graphics and overall presentation, the audio can’t be left out. The soundtrack is excellent and features a wide assortment of Compact Disc Digital Audio (CCDA) tracks. I had to add in as it’s a selling feature. Most tracks are techno and synth, which is expected for a game like this, but regardless the audio is extremely well done.

+ SD card adapter compatible. Sturmwind is the first commercially available Dreamcast game to make use of the Chinese-created SD card adapter. Players can save their high scores, replays, and even add-ons for the game. This is a feature I’ll have to try out at some point in the future, as I currently do not own the adapter.

+ Like all indie releases on the Dreamcast Sturmwind is region free, meaning you can play it on any Dreamcast regardless of where you happen to live.

Sturmwind3The So-So:

+/- When there are dozens of enemies on the screen at once, and explosions going on everywhere it can be somewhat difficult to see if you’re about to smash into a wall. It’s a very minor gripe that plagues even the best shmups.

The Bad:

– Oh how I wish there was a two-player co-op mode. This game deserves to be played with a friend.

The Ugly:

My voice after screaming at the TV for not being able to magically push my ship out of harm’s way.

Sturmwind2The Lowdown:

The Dreamcast was home to some excellent shmups like Ikaruga, Under Defeat, Gigawing, and many others, but there’s just something special about Sturmwind that raises the bar so high. I’m not ashamed to say this, but Sturmwind has become my absolute favorite shooter on the system, and I don’t care what you have to do, you need to play this game. It’s not only one of the best Dreamcast games ever made, it’s the best indie game I’ve ever played, and hands-down the best shmup released this year, and even one of my top games of 2013. Go buy this game, nuff said!

Final Score: 9.4/10

DUX 1.5 Review

DUXDUX 1.5 (Available exclusively on the SEGA Dreamcast)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Shoot ’em Up
Publisher: Hucast
Developer KTX Software / Hucast
Release Date: April 22nd, 2013

Parent Talk: As DUX is an indie release it has not been officially rated by the ESRB, but that’s where I come in. This is a horizontal spaceship shoot ’em up. It features no blood, gore, strong language, or suggestive themes. Basically all it has is animated violence in the sense of blowing up millions of enemy ships in glorious 2D. If the ESRB were to rate DUX it would garner an E for everyone rating.

Plays Like: DUX draws its inspiration from the legendary R-Type, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You pilot a small spaceship and destroy everything in your path, while traversing dangerous terrain. You make use of a protective Power Pod that’s attached to the front of your ship, and not only absorbs enemy bullets, but can also be shot out in front of the craft to destroy enemies. It’s pure arcade fun.

Review Basis: Hucast was super cool and sent us a review copy. I’d love to say I was able to finish the game, but if I had to wait to for that I’d never get the review out. I made it to stage five of six, so I’m almost there. These games require weeks of devotion in order to finish, and by the time this review goes up odds are I’ll be working my way through the final stage.

Note: I have never played through the original version of DUX so this revised version is my introduction to the series. Hucast recently had a successful Kickstarter for Redux: Dark Matters, which is a complete overhaul and remake of DUX and will be available on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Steam. Hucast is even making 1,000 copies exclusively for the Kickstarter backers.

Whoever says the Dreamcast is dead clearly doesn’t pay any attention to the home-brew/indie scene. While the sun may have set on SEGA’s final console sometime in the early 2000s, the amount of quality games that continue to hit the platform to this very day is nothing short of incredible. Released back in April, DUX 1.5 is a revised version of DUX, which was originally released on the Dreamcast back in 2009. This version fixes a lot of bugs that were in the original and adds new features, such as customizable control, and rebalanced gameplay to make the game more playable and less frustrating.

DUX2The Great:

Fantastic gameplay. It’s so easy to make a me-too shooter, but Hucast did a fantastic job of combining classical elements and putting them to great use. The protective Power Pod floats in front of your ship and can be used to absorb bullets, or fired to destroy enemies. There’s a powerful charge shot that works like Mega Man’s Mega Buster, and missiles which can be shot in front or above and below your ship, all helping to clear out the swarms of attacking ships. Add in some excellent power-ups and you have yourself a fantastic shoot ’em up that will keep you busy for weeks.

DUX1The Good:

+ Bullet absorption is key to surviving the onslaught. So long as you have your Power Pod in front of you and absorbing bullets, you can build up a special absorption meter which allows you to activate bullet soaking, whereby all the bullets around your ship are absorbed. Activating this depletes the absorption meter so you have be strategic on when to use it.

+ Instant respawns greatly helps new players ease into the game. Instead of having to traverse large areas over and over again, when you die you instantly reappear where where you were.

+ A challenge without being ridiculous. The first level is a complete breeze, and acts as a sort of introduction so players can get used to the different gameplay mechanics. Don’t expect hand-holding though as the second stage ramps up the difficulty considerably, and by the time you hit the third level your lives are going to deplete faster than the absorption meter. It’s never overly frustrating though, and that’s the way I love my shoot ’em ups.

+ A long journey. Scores only tally when all your lives and continues are used. That’s rather original, and I really like it because instead of having a three minute game, you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something, even when you completely suck.

+ Customizable controls may seem like a no-brainer, but they weren’t in the original version. While this may not be a problem for those using the controller, it’s very important for anyone playing with the arcade stick, which DUX proudly supports.

+ Graphics are fantastic, and with VGA support you can get native 480p on your monitor. While the game runs at a 4:3 resolution, I have had tremendous success upscaling that 480p signal to 720p and 1080p. The level-design is excellent, there are six completely original and awesome looking bosses, and over 30 unique enemies. It might not sound like much, but for an indie release this feels like a professional shooter.

+ While the sound effects are fairly standard, the music is amazing. Hucast included Redux: Dark Matters’ four CD soundtrack as a bonus, and I’ve been listening to it on my iPhone almost every day since it arrived. Yes, it really is that good. Andre Neumann and Marco Groß both deserve to be commended for an outstanding effort.  While not all of those tracks are featured in this version of the game, the arrangement is fantastic.

+ Region free. Buy the game and you can play it anywhere in the world on any Dreamcast.

DUX4The So-So:

+/- While the game has been improved over the original, I still found it tough to differentiate between what I should be avoiding, and what could completely destroy me in the environment. Bullets are very easy to see, but sometimes there are objects in the environment that you’re supposed to avoid, and others you can fly right through. It can be a little difficult to see until you get used to the various stages.

DUX3The Bad:

– Menu presentation is a little bland. A white screen with some text is about all you’re going to get.

The Ugly:

Jarrod trying to make it past the fifth stage. It’s scary!

DUX5The Lowdown:

Coming in at €32.95 (~$45 USD) DUX 1.5 is a fantastic game that any Dreamcast owner should pick up. It’s available from Hucast.com, and I’m a firm believer in supporting developers that do work out of passion. If someone is making a game for a system that has been defunct for over a decade, I’d call that passion. I’m also very pleased that Redux: Dark Matters will be coming out on XLA, PSN, and Steam so everyone can enjoy a variation of this excellent game, and for an extremely low price. While some might scoff at the asking price of DUX 1.5, considering the amount of work and the quality product you’re getting, I honestly feel the price is not only justified, but fair. If you enjoy shoot ’em ups, this is one you can sit back and enjoy without ripping your hair out. It comes extremely highly recommended for anyone still playing SEGA’s final entry in the console market.

Final Score: 8.5/10