Sunday, 12 January 2014

Bulk Slash (Saturn)

This is actually something of a filler post, having put myself in the unusual position of needing to put a gap between Champion Kendo and Maze Heroes and the RPG and sports game I plan on writing about in the near future. The game itself isn't filler material, though! It's excellent!
It's a 3D shooting game in which the player pilots a giant robot that can transform into a futuristic fighter jet.
The stages are set in the kinds of places that 90s robot anime were set: a city on the bay under a bright blue sky, a blasted desert battlefield, a fleet of big, battling spaceships and so on. While the graphics are generally amazing (definitely disproving the "recieved wisdom" that the Saturn couldn't do good-looking 3D, as if the Panzer Dragoon series, Burning Rangers and various others didn't already do that.), the second stage is especially beautiful, taking place in an amazing cyberpunk city at sunset, during the rain. And then it ends with a boss fight against an amazing looking giant mecha dragonfly with holographic wings!  Easily one of the coolest sights of any 32-bit era game!
The great presentation carries on into the music. The title screen greets you with a short but incredible little
power metal riff, and the in-game music perfectly fits the 90s anime style of the game. There's also a cool animated intro to be seen if you don't press anything at the title screen for a minute or so.
Each of the stages takes place in a pretty big area, which you're free to navigate at will, carrying out your objective, which is different for each stage, including blowing up certain machines, finding ID cards, carrying bombs to the destination in your fighter mode and a dreaded escort mission (which really isn't that hard once you've got a hang of controlling your ship/robot).
The controls are simple, but as effective as they need to be. The d-pad moves, the shoulder buttons turn, A transforms, C either makes your robot jump or changes the speed of your ship, X, Y and Z all point you in the direction of your enemy during boss fights, and B is the attack button.
Using only the B button, the designers hae managed to give the player a wide range of attacks: not pressing it for a few seconds charges your heavy weapon, in robot mode a medium range grenade that causes a big explosion and in fighter mode, an array of homing missiles that seek their prey in a satisfying Itano Circus-esque manner. As for normal attacks, theship mode is simple: press B to shoot your machine guns. In
robot mode, there's a wider variety of options: tapping B when at close range to an enemy slashes with a sword, while holding B shoots your main gun (a machine gun by default, but in robot mode, three temporary power-ups are available: a flamethrower, a raiden-esque toothpaste laser and a short-range three-way gun), though whether you're moving or stationary when you hold the button gives you the Treasure-esque choice between fixed shooting (when stationary) or free shooting (while moving).
I could keep going on and on about how great this game is and other cool things in it like finding co-pilots and so on, but rather than spoiling everything, I'll just tell you to go and play it!

1 comment:

  1. This was by CAProduction, the same developers as Ginga Fukei Densetsu: Sapphire on PC-Engine CD, and I think it was meant as a spiritual sequel to that game.