Tuesday, April 02, 2002 01:32
Psyvariar and a semi-review
Okay, so I'm also
interested in 2d shooter games. You know, the thrill of dodging thousands and
thousands of bullets. I'm not really good at it though, I guess its about
memorizing patterned enemy attacks and knowing where to situate your
ship/person. The last shooting games that I loved to play was RayStorm
Arcade 1996) and RayCrisis
Arcade 1998). Both of them are available on one CD for about 1500 yen now.
I went to the
this last Saturday and sampled Psyvariar
-Complete Edition- (PS2-jp) by Success Corp. D00d, this shooting game
rocks. I've been explaining it to all of my friends about how it plays. I guess
I'll write a review now. (^_^;)
Psyvariar is an arcade game that came out in 2000. It is a different take on
the up-scrolling 2d shooter game. Instead of collecting floating power-ups to
build up your ships strength, ala Gradius (Arcade 1985?) and Raiden (Arcade 1989?), you use
the "Buzz System". Basically, every time you pass by a bullet or an enemy very
closely, so close that the side of the ship touches it, you get a Buzz, and
your Buzz count increases. The more you Buzz, the closer you get to levelling
up your ship. When you level up, your shot count and strength increases.
How is this different from other games? Granted, a similar system exists in
another shooter game, or so it has been said. This Buzz system encourages you
to get up-close-and-personal with bullets. Yes, weave in and out of a cloud of
hot, lethal orange plasma. Do it effectively and you level up within seconds.
You won't be dreading the onslaught, you'll begin to hate the dead empty space
where no bullets float. One good thing about leveling up is that you become
invincible for about 2 seconds. Just before the spray of hot death gets to you,
you hear the game say "Level up!" The shields go up and absorb the bullets.
This is good, because the plasma and bullets come at you fast and furious.
Although there are some times when there seems to be no way to get though a
bullet pattern, because Buzzing equals temporary invincibility, you could pass
through wires of death without any problem. The game tells you just right above
your ship how many Buzz points you've got. Typically, I would get about 300
Buzz before dying. Is that good? Heh. No.
So how do you die? Well, you can't bullets touch the center of your ship. The
bullets come at you at various speeds, but because of the Buzz system, I think
the game designers chose massive amounts of slow bullets over speedy bullets.
Your ship piloting better be very accurate, and very quick. Luckily, (at least
for me) none of the bullets seem to change direction once in flight. There are
none of those fancy homing lasers from RayStorm.
The game consists of 6
stages, and you get to select which 1 level you want to take on that stage.
Selecting stages is similar to another shooting game, Darius. The better you
complete a level, the more levels are available in the next stage. Levels are
quick jaunts of two minutes of normal enemies, and an end level boss. During
the normal attacks, Buzzing quickly levels up your craft. However, when at the
boss section, Buzzing bullets seems to increase very slowly. Most craft are
dispersed with one shot, but some craft need more pounding than others. None of
the enemy bullets can be shot down, so you evade or use Buzz-invicible tactics.
The boss has a life bar which you can check to see how far you need to go. The
boss dies when the bar goes to zero or after a certain amount of time elapses.
Yeah, try dodging screen-filled bullet patterns for about 3 minutes.
Your ammo consists of basically 2 levels of white hot plasma, either straight
fanning or straight concentrated. You select the latter stronger attack by
activating your "spinning" move. When the going gets tough, you can "escape"
with a bullet-cancelling bomb. Or if you're playing the Revision version, you
can use a "short bomb" that only makes you invisible, leaving the bullets in
there place. Buzz buzz buzz!
How does this play on the Playstation 2? It plays very good. Ok, first of all,
with the Psyvariar Complete Edition, you get 2 games in one, Psyvariar Medium
and Psyvariar Revision. First select which game you want to play, then the PS2
loads the game within a minute. Hit the start button to start playing or select
button to go to options. By default, on a regular home TV, there will be black
bands on the left and right sides. Start the game, and you are greeted with a
3d intro of your ship jumping into the fray. Every time you Buzz, your PS2
Dual-Shock controller will vibrate, which is a great feedback feature. You can
continue your game where you died. But, but if you beat the game with one or
more continues, your high score will be tagged as a continued game with
triangle. You are rewarded with a picture of your pilot when you beat the game.
I think there's a guy and a girl, but as of now I've only saw the guy.
The configuration options I glossed over include controller reconfiguration,
viewing options, and data saving. All keys can be remapped and vibration can be
turned on or off. The screen can be rotated in 90 degree increments, or
expanded either horizontally or vertically. You can also rotate the control pad
keys to match the rotate screen orientation. You can adjust the difficulty of
the game. Finally, you can turn on auto saving to memory card, in addition
basic loading and saving.
Actually, when it was released, Psyvariar came in 3 different versions, regular
(game only), Special Sound Box (game and audio CD), and Special Capture Box
(game and DVD of expert
gamer play). Of course I purchased the Special Capture Box for about 6900
yen. The DVD includes "yarikomi" play by two different experts, who complete
the two games with no dying and continuing. Masterful. Absolutely stunning.
Watching this 120 minute DVD (with both home TV orientation and rotated TV
orientation) has shown me how to really play this game. When I saw the players
getting up to 6000 Buzz, I remembered my pitiful 300 Buzz and just sat in awe.
I looked up Psyvariar on the web and collected some information. You can view
some pictures about the game at the official web
site. You probably want to go to the Shmups web
site for shooting game forums. Here's a video of the intro and game play.
Finally, I found a very interesting website where someone has tried to catalog
bullet patterns in XML. A very cool Java app shows the different patterns.
I have no idea if this game is in the States, but I recommend it. I give it 7
out of 10, "Challenging". I have no idea if this is challenging to the
hard-core shooter fan, but I felt overwhelmed too many times. Too many bullets.