Twenty years have passed since the ending of the Virus Wars.
It seems that aliens objected to the human race colonizing the stars, (wow, who'd have thought that eh?) and decided to attack earth's colonies.
Mankind was triumphant (hurrah!) and peace settled across the galaxies. However all was not plain sailing, as various factions within the governing human forces decided they wanted a bigger slice of the pie.
Now whilst humanity started bickering amongst themselves, the old enemy watched and waited..and when the time seemed ripe they attack again.
Once again the Soldner ships and pilots are brought back into the front line and are the only hope mankind have of overcoming the threat and bringing peace back to the galaxy again.
Yup it has a plot that you could write down on a napkin and has been seen several times before but then again familiarity is not always a bad thing. It just means that if you are looking for something not seen before, then look elsewhere.
The same goes for the gameplay, that too has a traditional look and feel too it.
Playing this brought back memories of games like R-Type, and seeing as how back in the day I played that game over and over again on the good old Sega Master System, so yes, I embraced a trip down memory lane with little or no reservation.
So what do you get for your money then?
What you actually get is as already mentioned, a highly polished retro style game. You will pilot one of two ships (a third is available via unlock), one of which is not as highly armored as it's counterpart but is more maneuverable, the other is (and are we surprised about this?) is slower but can take and deal more damage so the choice is yours.
Whichever ship you choose and whatever difficulty setting you accept, the screen is soon full of obstacles, enemy ships and lasers and well it soon gets pretty intense.
There in lies the rub amigo, the learning curve may be somewhat daunting to new players of the game and indeed may cause some frustration in less skilled players. And then throw into the mix that in each of the game's ten levels, there are not one but two bosses to face and defeat.
These bosses are normally quite large and will take some breaking down before they finally bite the dust. It also takes some time to figure out the attack patterns of the bosses, but listen to your adviser as to what is happening, and they will guide you with advice on where to seek weak spots in their defenses, but most of the time by the time they tell you this, you may well have figured some of this out for yourselves, hey ho....
Add challenge modes to the ten levels, there is quite a lot for you to do. Completing the challenges will eventually give you that third ship, and other bonuses such as additional credits/lives for the main campaign.
Flying and fighting...
The controls are nice and smooth, gotta give it that. Controlling the ship is achieved using the left control stick, and shooting the myriad choices of guns that each ship can carry, is done via by the X button.
To swap weapons on the fly, press the right shoulder button, simple. Watch the screen for icons that when collected will replenish shields, the ships 'health', and add a new weapon to the vessels arsenal.
The visuals are pretty easy on the eye, animations are smooth, but the backgrounds seem to lack variety.
The music is driven by a meaty bass line and the sounds of gun fire and explosions certainly convey the feeling and atmosphere of conflict, all in all a decent soundtrack.
Supercharged attacks fired by yourself certainly have more than a small effect on the environment and will damage bosses and clear the screen of smaller enemies (think of it like Doom's B.F.G weapon) just keep dodging those incoming shots and keep plugging the bad guys.
It's all about the points....
Rack up points, collect the sonic the hedgehog type gold rings to build up your multiplier, collect icons to build up firepower, and look out for the golden keys that unlock new challenge levels and thats what it's all about.
Sadly it lacks a co-op mode and there's no head to head competition either.
On the whole I would recommend this if you are a fan of the R-Type sideways scrolling shooter. At the risk of repeating myself, if you want something really new look elsewhere, but this is a decent enough title but yes even though I like it, I do feel that it lacks some depth.
Still an enjoyable outing though, worth dipping in and out of, but lacks the hook to lure you in to want to play it from start to finish.