Yeah if the opening doesn't catch you...I don't know what will.
I originally heard about the game from a demo disc. You know the old PSX Underground disc. Those had a lot of good demo games on there all of which are actually worth playing. They did right by having you demo stage 2. One of the best songs of the game.
I didn't even know this game had a story to it. But its a basic story and that's all you need in games. A lot of games these days try to make such a convoluted story plot that makes no sense and then you have to delve deeper into random lore and crappy game theories to get a sense of what's going on. Seriously I'm not a fan of Game Theory. It's a load of opinionated mess based off very small details that no one would pay attention to while playing the game. I can put up with TVTropes since it makes some sense but a lot of the things I hear on Game Theory makes me go...what???? It really just gets to the point that I don't care and rather have the developers fill in those gaps if necessary.
Anyway. Story is you're a pilot of the Omega Boost and your mission is go back in time and stop a rogue computer program called the Alpha Core from changing the timeline and essentially bringing war to all human kind. You're going back to 1946 to fix the Eniac computer. Been awhile since games use an actual history point to make a story.
SoundWell basic story aside. What makes this game great. The soundtrack of course. The OST is one of the best made. This was before copyright BS and what not kicked in on video gaming too. Using actual bands (well all game songs have actual bands behind them) to record various soundtracks. If the opening FMV doesn't pull you in I don't know what will.
I did have an issue with the music being drowned out by the sound effects. Some songs are rather low in volume that you have to lower the sound effects to a minimum to hear the song. But if you download the OST or find it on youtube or whatever you can hear how great the songs are. Shamefully though the final boss theme song is copyrighted....It's not copyright by the band that originally made the song rather the company that owns the rights to it. WMG....of course I always see these guys everywhere.
There's no annoying noise to deal with. Everything sounds pretty much great other than that one issue.
GameplayWell the game is short. But I mean its a 3D Shoot-em up. Like Starfox, Einhander, Strike Suit Zero, etc. Why would you expect the game to be long? I swear I hear people complain that these games are too short and I just facepalm. What else can you do to make this game longer without it being overly repetitive gameplay?
Anyway, you can beat this game in about an hour. But that doesn't mean they'll make it easy for you. I don't know about everyone else but the difficulty starts ramping up around the 4th and 5th stage. And you gotta learn how deal with bosses and enemies effectively so that if and when you make it to the last level you're ready and won't die instantly. I should explain this in a bit more detail.
Basically at the end of every stage you're given a rank. Based on how much time you took to finish the stage and how many enemies you killed. Yeah you can actually take too long and ruin your rank. Thank god there's no accuracy rating. Considering the tools you have available. If your overall rank for the stage is a B or higher. You're mech (the Omega Boost) levels up. Giving you more lock-ons and other bonuses. If you're rank is below a B rating you don't level up and you won't recover much health. This can essentially destroy you in the long run. Making the later levels harder than they should be. Essentially your giving yourself a handicap that doesn't help you.
In total there's 9 stages plus 6 extra stages you unlock by beating the game. So there's enough to do. And this game was made back when games were about improving your skill level by just playing and trying to do a little better each time. You don't see this as much these days since now high scores no longer mean anything to 90% of the world.
I like to bring out that one thing I do like about the game is that if you die you basically restart on the stage you died at. Although you're thrown right at the beginning of the stage. It at least gives you a chance to try and do better than you did. Also if you die multiple times on the same stage. The game feels a bit sorry for you and refills your health back to maximum. This helps especially on the last few stages.
The controls are great. However there are times where the controls are not your friend. One of the problems is that you're always moving forward unless you hit the brakes. This gets to be a problem in some stages where you don't want to move in and you're trying to position yourself into a good spot to keep shooting and dodge. It's also an issue in the later stages when it comes avoiding certain attacks.
One attack is the final boss's giant laser of doom attack (as I call it). The final boss will teleport behind you and fire a huge laser at you. Which you can't see coming but you know its coming. The problem is you actually have to move out the way and not just in a single direction. Cause if you're just moving in a single direction....you're dead. The same issue comes up on the tunnel levels. You want to move a certain way but due to limited space and how you try to avoid the attacks you're likely to take a few hits regardless. Unless you're just that good.
Another issue I have is when I reach Zone 4 and Zone 7. I can dodge the attacks pretty easily until the game decides that it's best to dash into the ground or try to float in not too safe path. I want to stay above my target so I don't get hit but cause I'm locked on the game wants to put me directly in harms way. Now I could just turn off my lock on. But then I'm out of position. So I just have to deal and hope for the best.
My last issue comes with the final boss(es). I'll explain it later but there's times where I don't want to use my lock on missiles. But due to the games controls I have basically have to keep mashing the fire button so I don't lock-on by mistake.
Other than that you can easily get used to the controls. And its very fun to do nonstop strafing runs through the entire game. Especially when you unlock the special suits.
LevelsZone 1: Well there's nothing to explain here. Really if you're going for a high score you're better off using your vulcan. But you don't get as much damage as with you're missiles.
Zone 7: Once again like Zone 4 the Lock-On system wants to put me in harms way. I have to be really careful too. While everything here is easy to kill the damage you can take from these guys is insanely high. Then the boss its your rival again. And he has a lot of new moves. Even has you're Viper Boost....which...you better run when it activates.
Zone 8: This is kinda a rest period before the final boss. But at the same time it's a stage you can't afford to play around in. You're on a time limit. You have to kill the boss before time runs out or its game over. And the first boss heals. Its insanely annoying to deal with. While the 2nd one well it doesn't do anything but take all the punishment you dish out.
Last Zone: Now things get really annoying to difficult. You don't have much dodging space. And the boss has a gimmick going for it. The first form you can't shoot missiles at it. If you do the boss reflects your own missiles back at you. So you have to fire your vulcan. But you can't do that forever cause then the boss gets smart and throws out these little drones that shoot back at you whenever you fire your vulcan. Forcing you to destroy these things with your missiles. Essentially you can kill yourself in seconds if you just run in and fire like crazy like you did in the past 8 stages. (NO THIS IS NOT BAD GAME DESIGN! IT'S CALLED PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU'RE DOING INSTEAD OF ACTING LIKE AN IDIOT!!!)
Once that's done you got another form to fight. Which is this giant worm thing. You gotta destroy it piece by piece and try not to die. Then when you reach the head you can't use your missiles again cause the core still reflects them. I say this is the hardest part of the fight cause the attacks this guy throws out get very hard to dodge. Trying to come out of this in one piece is difficult.
Then the last form. Which isn't that bad but should be taken lightly. At least you get a cool song to fight it to. But that laugh is crazy.
Well that's it the game's over. Surprised no one notices a giant robot crashing in the middle of Philadelphia. Guess it'll get reported as an alien siting. Or is it cause we fixed time and stopped a computer virus from waging war that this robot will no longer exist....wait...you know what screw it I'm not gonna think about time travel.