It felt good to rev up my Dreamcast again. While I never retired it from my gaming set up in the living room, it sat there unplugged for months while shiny new PC and handheld games occupied my days. But in the time frame of a month, DC saw the release of two worthwhile titles, and I didn't hesitate to jump in. Before long, my DC had moved into my bedroom and connected to the trusty VGA adapter, and my computer's monitor was lying on its side for optimum vertical shooter conveyance.
Radirgy (some kind of contraction of "radio" and "allergy") was the first to drop, in late February. After being underwhelmed by Milestone's last effort, Chaos Field, I held out for a little while. But as the positive reviews rolled in, curiosity got the better of me and I caved. It's an odd little cell-shaded shootie with a lot of garish colors, and a massive amount of mostly destructable bullets. It seems to pull elements from Mars Matrix and Brave Blade to good effect, and playing for score is interesting, but ultimately it seemed easy and took entirely too long to heat up. Still worth checking out for the unique style and deep score mechanics.
The real party began when Under Defeat arrived. The latest from G.rev, the fine folks who brought us Border Down, Under Defeat is everything I could have hoped and more. While my initial fears that the scoring mechanics were simplistic and the game seemed straightforward were true, they turned out to work in the game's favor. I got completely sucked into this one like no other I've played in a while, and it's cemented my position that G.rev is one of the hot small developers to watch. We'll have more on them in the coming week, hopefully.
For some reason, I get suckered into playing every Elder Scrolls game when it comes out, knowing full well it's going to bore me to tears. I fell into the trap once again and picked up Oblivion, and much to my surprise and delight, I actually like it, this time. I tend to burn through RPGs and stay on track, follow the plot, and generally do the opposite of what the Elder Scrolls games want you to do. Luckily, it seems that Oblivion is much friendlier to this kind of play with a more focused, easier to follow story. It helps that the combat feels much more satisfying as well. I think Bethesda finally found that in-between that works for me.
But my passion for 2D vertical shooters seems to be a real addiction, and even the deep, expansive world of Oblivion could not keep me interested once the new PC port of Raiden III arrived. Raiden, for me is one of those iconic games that was in every arcade I know. It was practically genre-defining in its day, and I still find myself trying to explain to people what kind of game Ikaruga is to my casual gamer friends by saying "It's like Raiden." So seeing the series revived conjured up a stew of emotions, ranging from heated anticipation, to apprension. Luckily Raiden III doesn't tarnish its legacy. Moss really nailed the feel of Raiden's firing patterns perfectly, and the title really feels like a Raiden game. On the down side, it fails to take the series to new heights, and I'll probably return to Under Defeat before long, but for now, it's a good, nostalgic romp.
And speaking of nostalgic romps, the resurrection of Delphine Software's classic Another World (or Out of This World as it's known here in North America) really makes me happy. It's a sort of a "Director's Cut" or a "Special Edition" port combining the best elements of the different versions with some lovely new hi-resolution backgrounds (the option for the original graphics is there as well). I played through it 3 times yesterday, and while it's not quite what I would call a remake, it is the best version of one of the greatest games of the 16-bit generation, which is enough to sell me any day.