Monday, 9 May 2016

Volleyfire (Game Boy)

Long-time readers will remember a few times in earlier posts where I mention having a 32-in-1 pirate cart for my Game Boy as a kid, which, along with a few mainstays like Tetris, Tennis and Alleyway, also contained a whole load of lesser known Japan-only games that I otherwise would have never heard of, of which Volley Fire is one. I think the title is supposed to suggest a kind of volleyball, but played with fire, and I can kind of see where they're coming from with that, but it's more like a more advanced version of the 1975 arcade game Western Gun/Gun Fight. But with spaceships instead of cowboys.

The game's setup for the first stage is like this: you control as a spaceship on the bottom of the screen, and there's an AI-controlled spaceship at the top. You have to shoot each other and avoid each other's shots, while shot-blocking indestructible asteroids float by in the middle. Now, when I played this back in the ancient past, I saw this simple first stage, and got bored and moved on before bothering to get past it. Playing it again as an adult, I learned that I was wrong to give up on Volley Fire so quickly.

After the first stage, it quickly starts introducing new elements: destructible scenery, mirrors that reflect your shots back, an array of different power-ups, battles taking place in scrolling mazes, bosses fights, and so on. As the game goes on, it also starts to combine these things together. It also looks pretty nice for a 1990 Game Boy game, and it's got decent, catchy music, too.

Based on my old memories of it, I really thought I'd be telling you not to bother with Volley Fire, but it looks like I proved myself wrong, and it's definitely worth a look. It's not the best GB STG (that'd probably be Nemesis II), but it's still a lot of fun, and fairly unique, too.

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