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Axelay

Super NES

Konami 1992

 

 

 

 

 

Totally awesome shooter by Konami, creators of shump classics like Gradius and Life Force. The twist on the usual formula involves both horizontal and vertical scrolling scenes with incredible graphics that take full advantage of the console's scaling and rotation abilities.

The thing with this game is that there are no power-ups to collect. At the begriming of the level you are presented with a screen that lets you choose from a predetermined set of weapons. As the game progresses you are given new bombs, missiles, and such, and by the end you can customize totally to your liking. This allows you to forget about powerup hunting and focus on blowing up the bad guys. Each time you get hit one of the weapons disappears, giving your ship a life bar of four (four weapons plus one more hit kills you.) The weapons for the most part are effective for the level they are given to you for (except for the backwards bombs in the cavern level which are pretty useless.) This also adds some strategy to the later levels because choosing the wrong weapon leaves you up the creek without a paddle.

The vertical levels have you flying in between different structures in addition to blowing stuff up, and each takes place on a different alien landscape. The vertical levels use scaling and rotation like crazy with ships coming at you, big lava dragons shooting up from the ground, etc. They have a kind of forced fisheye perspective that can get a little funky sometimes (like on the cityscape level where it's hard to tell if something is in the foreground or the background) plus sometimes you can actually see the graphics "rolling" at the top of the screen, like a sheet of paper being unrolled. But for the most part they look pretty good.

The side scrolling levels are far superior, feature tons of really well designed enemy ships and interactive environments. A few of the levels looks a little Gradius inspired (like an underground cavern where you have to blow up rocks to make you own pathway.) The last level starts with an attacking armada with ships that are multiple screens long and ends deep inside some alien stronghold with doors that slam shut, drones that clamp guiders on you, etc.

Boss desgin is awsome too, with huge monstrosities that take up the whole screen and use some cool play mechanics. The 2nd level boss is a big Ed-209 thing that walks while firing machine guns, the lava level has this giant magma monster that smashes the ground and causes flaming rocks to fly up, cityscape level has a morphing boss that shoots multiple lasers that you have to fly in between, etc. The bosses use lots of mode 7 and get progressively harder as the game moves on.

Totally awesome game, top notch in every category. Definitely a jewel that every Super Nintendo owner should dig up and enjoy.

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