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A rejuvenation of the vertical shooter genre

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    Rating: 5.0 – Flawless

    A rejuvenation of the vertical shooter genre

    Xenoraid is a vertical shooter with some twists to standard gameplay. The story is that you are a pilot working in the Earth defense force, which has been contacted by aliens and requires a forceful response to them. One of the twists is that you can pilot 4 ships each mission, simply by switching out to one of them. There are no weapon powerups, but that’s okay because 2 of your ships fire differently than the other 2, and because the weapons are strong enough on their own.

    Another twist is that between stages, you can spend money on upgrades to your ships, but you must unlock most of the upgrades. The game is paced slightly on the fast side, which is a fit for this genre, so you’ll never feel that you didn’t have enough time to act. You save after each stage, so no more unforgiving difficulty of vertical shooters that don’t allow you to do this. The game is tough regardless. It has a couch coop mode if you want to play with 2-4 people.

    The different kinds of fire are double shot and spread shot. The spread shot is surprisingly effective. In some games, spread shots have horrible accuracy, but NOT in this game. This means each of the 4 ships is useful. To add to the difficulty, though, your weapons have a cooldown. This doesn’t matter. If you do overheat, then simply fly around enemies until your ship goes back to normal. Enemies frequently go off-screen, and then reappear to do battle. The fact that enemies go off-screen and then reappear is an excellent mechanic, and reflects the smart-but-not-smug attitude of the AI. You must defeat all enemies to advance to the next stage, like the mechanic in Gun.Smoke for NES where you had to get a poster of the boss, or you would never end the stage.

    Something about the style of the game caused me to want to replay it again and again. It could be because the game is convincing in its delivery and feel. The controls are tight and you can sense recoil when you fire, due to it being necessary to tilt your tightly controlled ship to hit several of the enemies. Tilting is a mechanic very few vertical shooters use, so much so that you can even turn tilting off in options. The sense of recoil is a good reason to play this game. Because I wanted to replay it again and again, I was always trying to get a perfect no damage run on each stage (if you quit the mission before you go on to the next one, you can avoid autosave saving a bad run).

    The music in the game is nice. It’s either mellow or ambient at all times, unlike the frenetically-inspired music the genre frequently has. You’re allowed to map controls yourself, except you can’t use the twinstick or the touch pad to fire. You must use a button to do that. Each stage is assigned a difficulty level, so you can’t turn the difficulty from easy to hard under options (until you beat the game, when you unlock hard mode, according to another reviewer).

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