Thursday, December 16, 2010

AA look - Detana!! Twinbee

One of Konami's popular 2D shooter franchises was the Twinbee series. They're charming games that focus on bright colors and smiles while providing that hot shooting action we all crave in the genre. This particular entry won an award for best shooting game in the Japanese magazine Gamest. Yeah it's totally impressive stuff, even though Metal Black was robbed. Can you believe that? A ground-breaking and intelligent shooter that is an artistic achievement and one of the most brilliant games the genre has ever seen, and it was beaten by some happy-go-lucky kids and their bell-collecting adventure.

I...I...I don't think I can continue this review right now. I'm clenching my teeth so hard the enamel is starting to peel off. I bet even Sonic the Hedgehog won an award over Metal Black. At least Metal Black didn't defile whatever legacy it had by having a sequel called Metal Black 2006. That would be a wonderful sequel. It could feature a Black Fly, a Silver Fly, and a Blue Fly. The Silver Fly could have telekinetic powers and the entire game would be an unplayable mess.

Anyway Detana Twinbee...oh...Detana!! Twinbee (sheesh) is also known as Bells and Whistles over on this side of the pond. The plot involves rescuing a queen from an alien invasion and that's about it. The hero Light pilots the Twinbee while the heroine Pastel controls the Winbee. There's also a Gwinbee who helps out provided a power-up is snagged. This is also one of those shooters where it's probably best to play with a friend since through the power of friendship players can stick together and gain more attack power. There's also a charged shot for crowd-clearing and the ability to hit the ground targets with bombs. This aspect is similar to Xevious though there's auto-targeting which makes it more convenient.

The most unique quality of this game revolves around the bells. Fans of Parodius understand the importance of these bells as they bestow goodies depending on their color. In this game the goodies include power-ups like improved weapons, shields, and points. There's a medal...uh...bell-chaining system in place where the point-gifting golden bells can be continually collected for up to 10,000 a pop. This is obviously something to look out for as any lost bell drops the value back down to 500 and that isn't any good. The bells fall from clouds and will disappear off-screen unless they are juggled by the player's fire. This also causes the bells to cycle through their various colors.

With a system like this death can become extra punishing as it requires recovering all of these different power-ups while at the same time doing the best one can with a lousy pea-shooter. There's seemingly no rhyme or reason as to what the colors of bells will be so like a lot of early Konami shooters the solution is to simply not die at all. At least this game isn't particularly hard outside of some trouble-spots and even then the patterns are pretty obvious so on the next go 'round players should have a handle on it.

For a game where the enemy-designs are both cute and nonsensical I was pretty well thrown off when the final boss turned out to be some freaky alien-brain. This guy is pretty dang sick but he dies very quickly. Unfortunately his appearance sets the pace for the rest of the game. Detana!! Twinbee is one of those second-loop kind of shooters and Konami decided not to mess around at all. There are double the enemy aircraft, double the enemy fire-power, and heck they even release more bullets when you kill them. Veterans of this game probably get pretty bored when they have to spend nearly half an hour of playing to get to the real challenge. This also serves to further embarrass me as currently I've yet to see past stage 3. The second boss with his spinning oars keeps nailing me. The really sad part is I know that if I can get past him and hold onto my cool weapons I could sail through the next few stages with no trouble.

Despite it all it's very easy to see why this Detana!! Twinbee is an award-winner. This game is very approachable for all fans of the shooter genre and the scoring system is absolutely awesome. There's enough of a challenge in the first loop to keep anyone occupied for days as the combination of air & ground targets as well as the bell managing strikes a perfect balance and is very rewarding. I really like the music and to a lesser extent the art. I guess the only thing that really bothers me is that I have no idea what the regular enemies are supposed to be half the time. They're like some strange combination of evil food and vague threatening-shapes. Oh and I'm still slightly bitter about the raw deal Metal Black got.

Note - I went with the X360 Game Room version of this game. While it doesn't support TATE the video options are still decent enough plus there are other features like replay saving, dynamic leaderboards (like Geometry Wars 2), and even an instant-rewind so I can figure out why I died and how I could have avoided it. It's really not bad at all for $3.

Game Rating - 4 out of 5 stars
My Rating - 4.5 out of 5 stars

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