I'll be honest, this is one of the earlier games I picked up when I started collecting Master System, and one of the ones I come back to when I need a good retro blasting fix. Sure, everyone knows and plays the excellent Master System version of R-Type, but here's another horizontal scrolling shooter that holds up just as well.
The graphics are better than R-Type. Well rendered enemies, bullets and pickups combine with a full screen scrolling background that absolutely makes the best of the Master System's abilities. There's even some parallax action going on.
The sound is very good. The effects adequately sync with the action on the screen, and the background music sets the mood without getting too annoying.
I like the pickup system. It definitely is a game that allows you to work to your strengths, foregoing one weapon for another that you might already have, or have to choose between two flying by (and past) you as the action runs by.
I also enjoy the different combinations of movements from the enemy craft, as well as the enemies that appear on the bottom and aim for you. And others that try to ram you. The difficulty starts out reasonable, even easy, but then ramps up nicely over time. The final bosses are large and challenging (well, the first one is pretty easy).
Overall this is very much a game worth tracking down for all Master System owners. If you're not already a Master System fan, this will help. I think it compares favorably, or at least holds its own, to scrolling shooters on the NES and TG, which says a lot.
- Eric Ruck