https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmyW2vaMA-0As the XBOX One made its arrival
, one question is still in the air: "¿Where are the shmups?", while some people considers this genre too "old and unnecessary"
for a new generation console like the XBOX One, others think STG evolved into first and third person shooting
with games such as the Halo
and Gears of War
series. The demise of companies
like IREM, Tecno Soft and Warashi, and the lower interest of surviving companies on this genre are the ones to blame. Fortunately, when the big companies are losing interest on shmups, others arrive and pick it back up
. In this case a small Argentina-based indie studio called OPQAM
decided to take the challenge and bring a flicker of hope to the shmup community, a flicker of hope called "Project Root
¿What happens when you blend Thunder Force II
, Jungle Strike
with some RPG elements?, the result is Project Root
Despite being an "Indie" (Independent) game, Project Root
is the "Remixture" of Vertical Shooting and Arena-Field Gunship Combat
. So we'll gonna have large areas to explore and large numbers of enemies to destroy.
You get a mission select feature which increases after completing a level on a specific difficulty, this means if you pass "Presentation Card" on Easy, you can only advance to "The Last Snowflake" on Easy. So that means beating the level three times (Easy, Normal and Hard).
The controls are very easy to learn. Your ship moves with the Left Stick
and the Right Stick rotates the ship
, you can fire the Air-to-Air guns with the Right Trigger
and the Air-to-Ground rockets with the Left Trigger
, RB Button is your Special Weapon
button, but you have one more advange
in your favor; Since your "Jet" is a VTOL
ff and L
anding) looking ship, it has helicopter properties, and remaining static is one of them, This works well on the field environment which is very reminiscent of Thunder Force II
, but unlike Thunder Force II
, you don't have to deal with the constant movement of your ship since you're a VTOL.
Once you know this you can use it in your favor in later levels
, how?, on the missions where you find airfields. I'm gonna explain you that since this is a very useful trick to gain levels, great scores in certain levels and the best part; gaining a lot of Experience Points
. Yes, i said experience points. In the style of the RPG genera, you gain experience to increase levels, everytime you increase your level you gain Experience Points, this EP's are the "Currency" of the game, because you can trade those EP's for upgrades such as more firepower, carry more special weapons, speed up, and increase your energy. Curiously, the level gauge stops at 17, why a random number like 17?, i don't know. Also, the level up also gives you a new pilot rank which increase the number of experience points given.
Now onto the level gaining technique, When you find an Airfield as your subobjective, destroy all of them, except for one, that will be used for the level gaining trick, get in position behind the runway, try to be as "static" as possible, then hold the left trigger button and never let the button go, if you have a heavy object to hold the button like plastic boxes, you can do anything else while the ship levels up by itself (NOTE: To avoid a slow-speed "going off the runway" don't upgrade your speed before doing this trick). If you die after losing your last life and start again you'll keep your level and experience points earned, unfortunately the experience point saving apparently seems to work when you play on Easy, if you try that on Normal or Hard you've better survive that mission or else you'll lose all the gained bonus points.
Yes, your ship, levels and pilot rank have to be powered up from scratch on all the three difficulties. I know it sounds REALLY tedious but that trick (and your skills in Normal and Hard) really comes in handy on a situation like this, trust me.
The "Exploration" part of the game is one of the main features of the game, remember Thunder Force II
?, as you explore the battlefield you'll find the main objectives indicated by your partner Synch, but also you can find Sub-objectives like sinking a ship patrol or destroying airfields
, finding the sub-objectives will give you bonus points and that means a bigger score in a specific mission. Also, the game isn't just the Thunder Force II
-like exploration, some missions have specific objectives
like escorting a ground transport and destroy missiles within a time limit, this is when the game resembles classic flight games such as the Strike
series (Jungle Strike
, Desert Strike
, etc.), and like such, failing those objectives means Game Over
, no matter if you had extra lives or not. Fortunately, you're not alone in the battlefield.
There's Special Weapons
like the Cannon (Laser), Missiles, Rocket Launchers, Energy Pulses that destroy bullets, Shields and Repair items (green wrench) to recover your life gauge and 1ups to keep you alive in the battle.
With all this amazing features there's one near-fatal flaw in the game: The damage.
Because in most games, when you take a hit, you have a brief moment of "Temporary invincibility" to recover from the hit and get outta there, not in Project Root
. A small formation of enemies can drain away your energy within seconds. It's the same flaw as the famous Run-N'-Gun Turrican
. Fortunately the enemies can drop 1-ups and you can recover that life lost due to this issue.
Graphically, looks quite decent for an XBOX One game, the environment looks well made and the building detailing looks very complete, the visual effects are the best part
, the big explosions add more intensity to the already fast-paced action (specially during the boss battles), The nature effects such as the water waves and weather such as snow and rain are nicely and realistically recreated. The mechanical design has clear traces of good old mecha animes of the 80's (The Robotech
-esque design of your ship for example), along with the modern-age Gundam
-esque battleships common nowadays.
While the mechanical design is heavily based on sci-fi mecha animes, the character (pilots) design is more influenced by american comics
, to be exact the character designs look very inspired by artists such as Jim Lee (Gen13
) and Todd McFarlane (Spawn
). Now, don't take me wrong, i'm not against this western design, but after all those years of watching anime like characters
such as Crueltear, Diol Twee and Asayuki, i was so submerged into anime that basically i became "unfamiliarized" with the western comic book design, so basically, the game designs combine "The Best of Both Worlds"
, Japanese Anime-like machinery with Western Comic Book-like character design.
In the sound department, the music is kinda like forgettable. While the opening is an amazing loud paced, hard-rocking tune proper of a Thunder Force
prologue, the rest of the game is very "simple", kinda like Metal Gear Solid
-esque tunes which fit perfect for an infiltration protocol, i'm not saying "it sucks" or somethin' like that, it's just it has potential but they lack the "spirit and staying power" of the soundtrack of many many many shooters you've played before. Personally you can turn the music off, put the soundtrack of Thunder Force II
and you're all set.
So, in the end we have a "Mix" of combined styles of drawing, a blending of multiple gaming genres, along with the classic Thunder Force II vibe of shooting action.
So, will i recommend Project Root
?, Absolutely yes, it's a very solid shooter despite it's small flaws. 8/10