Budget software publisher UFO Interactive Games has brought three arcade SHMUP (Shoot ‘em up) titles from MileStone Inc. to North America in compilation form. Fans of the old-school, hardcore genre will be able to play two of the included games for the first time on a home console without importing.
The compilation is dubbed Ultimate Shooting Collection, though many SHMUP fans would agree that the games included here are more of the mediocre variety. There are some emulation quirks, but the package features complete soundtracks, multiple control options and the ever-popular TATE mode for those brave enough to turn their TV on its side.
Chaos Field was previously available on GameCube in North America while Karous (Raven) and Radirgy (Radio Allergy) are available here for the first time and exclusive to Ultimate Shooting Collection. Karous and Radirgy were both released in Japan on the Dreamcast, with the latter also seeing PlayStation 2 and GameCube releases there.
Needless to say importing Japanese consoles and software is an expensive endeavour, so finding these three games on one disc for an asking price of $30 is a great deal provided you are a fan of the SHMUP genre.
The three games are all vertically scrolling SHMUPs and because they were made by the same developer around the same time, they come off as very similar to one another. I’ll break down the characteristics of each game.
Chaos Field is probably the most unique of the three. It consists of a series of boss battles against single, large opponents as opposed to levels filled with hundreds of generic enemies. Like Ikaruga, players can switch between two parallel dimensions, in this case called fields. The Order Field makes enemies weaker while the titular Chaos Field is more difficult to survive in but yields more points.
Players can choose from three ships, each with its own speed and weapon characteristics. All of the ships are equipped with a sword attack that can be used to dispatch of enemy bullets. Each ship also has unique Lock On and Wing Layer special attacks.
Radirgy sets itself apart with its colourful cel-shaded art style and mobile phone inspired interface. Three ships of varying speeds are available to use. Players also choose from three types of attacks; a wide shot laser, a large bullet bubble attack and the 1-2-3 laser.
The sword attack in Radirgy can be used to attack enemies as well as to eliminate enemy fire. A shield will appear in front of the player’s ship if they stop firing for a couple seconds as well. Keeping with the mobile phone feel of the game, players will receive e-mails containing bits of story or helpful information about bosses.
Karous is very similar to Radirgy in both look and gameplay. It also employs a cel-shaded look, though much darker in colour and feel. In Karous, the player’s ship will be upgraded as they play. Shot, sword and shield can all be leveled up to a maximum of 100. Karous also uses a unique bomb system that shields the ship and destroys enemies and incoming fire surrounding it.
All three games provide users with options commonly found in arcade to console ports. Difficulty level, starting amount of lives and intervals at which players earn extra lives can all be tweaked.
Karous and Radirgy are both presented in the traditional way for most console ports of vertically scrolling SHMUPs. The action takes place on a vertically oriented field in the centre of the screen surrounded by empty space on both sides.
Chaos Field is presented in the 16:9 aspect ratio on this compilation and is not compatible with TATE mode. Karous and Radirgy both support TATE mode, which looks fantastic on a widescreen TV. As with many Wii games, Ultimate Shooting Collection is not true 480p, leaving small black bars on the sides of the screen.
Ultimate Shooting Collection is a bare-bones affair as far as compilations go. Essentially this is just three ROM images on a disc wrapped in a menu. There are no videos or interviews to be found here. There are no unlockable games, nor any artwork to view.
There are however, complete soundtracks for all three games; 39 tracks in total. These music tracks are unlocked and available for players to listen to the moment they boot up the disc. While I didn’t find any of the music to particularly shine, this is a nice inclusion for fans or those that become fans while playing.
Also noteworthy is the fact that players can use a GameCube controller or Classic Controller in addition to the default Wii Remote and Nunchuck combination. This feature provides many options for players depending on their preference of analog sticks and d-pads.
Ultimate Shooting Collection probably won’t create a lot of new SHMUP fans and those already interested in this compilation are probably aware of the games included and their reputations as middle of the road titles. Many of these fans also know that very few SHMUP titles make it over here these days and will probably be happy to play anything they can get.
At $30 this compilation is technically a steal regardless of content. Getting all three of these titles in your living room a few months ago would have cost hundreds of dollars. UFO Interactive Games has done a great service to hardcore SHMUP fans by bringing Ultimate Shooting Collection over at a reasonable price.
+ Great Value
+ Included Soundtracks
+ TATE Mode
– Bare Bones, No Extra Features
– Mysterious Load Times
– Games Included are Mediocre