Wednesday, June 16, 2010

PSN Look - Gundemonium Recollection & Gundeadligne

Recently the Playstation Network added a collection of shooters known as the Gundemonium...Collection. This selection features the inclusion of two horizontal and one vertical shooter and includes everything we've come to expect from the genre. By that I mean gobs of bullets, countless complicated scoring sub-systems, and a penchant for featuring little girls and/or women in tiny outfits. These games were originally developed on the PC and have made the jump to the PS3 quite well. There are a handful of bugs and some minor errors like the music-skipping (which may be attributed to that I was downloading something while playing) but nothing anyone would notice if they didn't look up some forum posts.

Gundemonium Recollection has one of those incomprehensible storylines doujin shooters are typically known for. There are these girls, there's some war over alchemy or something, and it involves a bunch of things like angel wings, bunnygirls, a great train robbery, and busty women straddling gatling guns. It's a very moe affair and really kind of creepy cause when there isn't a hail of bullets and stuff blowing up every which way I tend to see things I wish I hadn't. For example I'm quite sure I saw more than a few women shooting at me while not wearing any underwear. So yeah needless to say I try to ignore everything and just focus on living and killing.

This game takes place over a number of stages that are broken up into multiple sections. Unlike most horizontal shooters there's nothing in the way of walls to crash into or traps to evade, thus variety in each level is handled by creative bullet patterns. It's a bit hard to explain but there are sections of the game where narrow corridors or similar areas are created through the use of large swaths of bullets. Most sections tend to end in a boss and they tend to go down pretty quickly, not before filling the screen with a hundred thousand bullets of course.

There are two playable characters in the game though it's a bit odd how it works out. The first character uses dual pistols that fire forward constantly. The other playable character actually has an assortment of weapons to choose from and as a nod to fanboys a few of them even change her attire(like one of the weapons leaves without shoes on...ugh). Both characters also have access to a Mana attack that when it connects with the enemy time everything slows down from bullets to the enemies while doing damage. Recharging for these specials is as easy as putting the player in danger. Like many other modern shooters while the playable character is very large their weak-point is very small, allowing for tons of maneuverability through the most absurd of bullet spreads. There are also bombs which are always nice in that provide a way out of a bad situation. In fact even if the player takes a hit they can use a bomb to hang on to their life. This requires a full bomb gauge though.

For best results in figuring this game out it would be wise to seek out a guide like say one in the Shmups Forum. I say this because even after a couple playthroughs I still don't have too good of an idea about what's going on. This game gets pretty relentless with its spreads as the player progresses and there are a number of unique systems to make the game more challenging. First off difficulty is governed by a phase system. Basically the higher the phase the harder the game gets. Think of it as a rank system only easier to manipulate and understand. Grazing a lot of bullets triggers a phase levelup, dying can cause a phase leveldown, and so on. Higher phase levels mean more danger but it can also mean more points if the player knows what they are doing. There's also a demonic shift that can make the game harder or even easier depending on the phase level.

Granted you could just as easily ignore all of this like I did and focus on simply dodging everything and responding with a ton of hot death. The game could stand to use a little more punch as enemies just don't provide a sense of satisfaction when they're destroyed. Maybe this is more attributed to the odd-ball enemy designs (bunnygirls? really?). It's always fun to see bullets turn into gems and seeing the screen fill with 16x bonuses is really cool as well. Overall it features a good bit of depth and once I get over the fact that I can only play this game when the doors are locked and nobody is home I think I might grow to like it eventually.

Next we have Gundeadligne and forgive me for getting side-tracked but if you remove both G's from the title you get Undeadline, a shooter notable for being one of the hardest in the genre. I dunno how that's relevant to this article since Gundeadligne is actually a sequel to Gundemonium. It is a continuation of everything we loved about the first game which includes more creepy pandering, more bullets, and some changes that make for a different game.

To start with the player can now switch directions. This is handy for a number of battles since the enemies can head to the other side of the screen or even occupy both sides at once. This isn't exactly Forgotten Worlds though so don't expect to have to cover your rear all too often. The bombs have also been revamped to include multiple kinds of bombs as well as a new bomb gauge that empties and refills depending on what's happening. There's also a gem-limit to account for that can allow the player to enter Afterbreak. This is the only way to complete the entire stage and I assume get the best ending (as well as amass a lot more points in the process). Everything else from phase level to mana returns.

Needless to say there's a bit more to account for and the enemy doesn't make it easy by throwing around more bullets than ever thought possible. Still like most other doujin shooters on the normal settings it's not too difficult. I have a ways to go just to reach veteran-level in shooters and I was able to nearly 1CC this game on my first attempt. The hitbox is still tiny, the bombs and bullet-slowing mana are still plentiful, and bosses tend to give away a lot of extra lives. Unfortunately most of these extra lives tend to only be good for points since as far as I can tell the game maxes out at only three of them. Sure it'd probably be too easy otherwise but hell I don't know maybe tack on some kind of multiplier for having a ton of lives left?

The Mission Mode is a pretty nasty affair since it sets the Phase Level at 21 and expects the player to beat bosses with one life and no bombs. Mana is still usable and its practically required because bullets are extremely fast and absurdly patterned. Still it can be really good practice if you have the patience for the game constantly saving data after every attempt.

At times the bullet patterns get just a bit too ridiculous for their own good. What it comes down to is rather than provide something clever to dodge it tends to involve navigating a sea of death while eking out survival. It reminds me of certain encounters like the extra form of the final boss in Mushihime-sama's original mode. I hated that fight because all the bastard did was turn the screen purple until I died. It's sort of the same thing here only with a bronze finish. Still with more bullets comes more bonuses and for me the screen filling with huge amounts of points is a scene that never gets old.

There's a lot of other content between both of these games ranging from trophies and special challenges, to even a handful of ultimate final bosses provided certain conditions are reached. Hitogata Happa (the third game in the set) is a different beast entirely and has a bit of a learning curve to it. I'll look at that one later. There are demos for the PC versions of these games floating around and the requirements aren't bad at all. You may as well give them a look yourself if you have the time.

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