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 Post subject: Arcade Archives: Ordyne (PlayStation 4|5 - Switch)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2022 11:28 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Namco keeps releasing more of their old arcade catalogue on the Arcade Archives, and the following review is no exception.
Today's review is the classic shmup Ordyne.

A taunting blaster is what you need to break through.

The gameplay of Ordyne at first looks the same or very similar to other shmups like Konami's Gradius, Taito's Darius and IREM's R-Type with the use of the frontal gun and the diagonal drop bomb, but actually is more than that as soon as you begin to take down your enemies. While most shmups grant you power ups and items to increase your strength, in Ordyne, the enemies drop Crystals, which is the currency of the game. Unlike U.N. Squadron/Area 88, you have to take down the entire formation of enemies to pick the Crystal item rather than getting a few from each enemy down which is a complete turn on the concept of money investing based shmups and buying weapons will play a major factor on the overall aspects of the game since there's no items to increase your ship's strength.

It's the "Pick-N-Leave" feature.
Pick one thing, pay and get out. No refunds.

Money Investment comes on two forms. The first one is the most common of all. Throughout the whole game you can enter on a shop called the "Air Inn" where you can buy one of three available weapons, or even a speed upgrade for your ship. Which weapons and upgrades are available are set at random, but at least one or two are on an accessible price range for the first stage.

WAVE CANNON: Pac-Dot Wave Cannon

While upgrades are permantent until you lose a life, weapons (regardless of which one you take) consume an energy bar which is located below. Unfortunately, the energy consumes regardless if you are using the weapon or not, so the best strategy to exploit the energy as much as possible is to fire the weapon even if there's enemies or not 'cos is the ammunition will deplete in one way or another. Special Bombs have limited ammunition like five or so, so you can't go around wasting them on common enemies. The only weapon that is out of the exception is the Stock Bomber, which utilizes Pac-Man as a weapon, shield and special attack at the same time. As a shield, it can take three physical hits before going down, allowing you a simple, yet good enough room for error keeping you alive and still being able to fight with our without your Pac-Weapon. As a weapon, it has a waving-like bullet stream fire of great power with a good fire rate of up to 8 bullets on screen, making this the perfect weapon to fight back and worth the investment when you've got the money. Finally, the special weapon function comes as Pac-Man absorbs bullets when you're not firing. This makes Pac-Man grow in size until it grows thrice its size. This is when you can unleash a full charged shot that covers a wide vertical range of the screen, hence the bomb-like functionalty.

Hold up, hold up. Let's make a bet.

The second way to get a weapon is throughout the business of a character called Dream Co., Ltd. who is a bonus roulette mini-game where you can bet 1000 Crystals for an item, 100,000 crystals or get a refund depending on which number hits the bullet. The weapons are referred with random names like Summy, Morris or Bob, but here you can get the Stock Bomber for free and that's one hell of a help as it provides you firepower AND saving money at the same time.

The puzzle logic in the shmup.

There's very few times where the game will pull some puzzle-like obstacles like in the fourth stage, where you have to make a radar-mill spin using your shots, but at the same time, doing it without increasing the speed of the mill so you can pass through it with no problems. The difficulty is your typical arcade "Hard but fair" type of shmup that combines well placed formations with rotating hazards like the mazes in the second and final levels. While the second stage require some memorization of the layout, which is very easy to learn while navigating it, in the final stage you'll require to shoot at panels that will either increase or decrease its rotation speed.
The game is generous enough with the player not just with using the continue option, but also allowing the player to enter his/her initials on the ranking before going to the continue screen.

The first console port of Ordyne was on the PC Engine, where it made its best effort to keep the pace of the original arcade despite of being technically inferior as a console, this can be noticed on the rotating mazes where the rotating effect blocks were simplified and replaced with circles that moved on a curve. Miyuki and Dream Co., Ltd. were slightly redesigned to adapt to the technological limitations of the PC Engine, and most of the visual effects were gone and the ending was redesigned. But it had the console exclusive bonus of being able to play as the damsel in distress Kana Aibara, which is a sprite edit. The first arcade-perfect port was in 1996 as part of Namco Museum Vol.4 on the PlayStation where it had the same graphics and sounds from the original arcade, but had loading times, even for an arcade ROM burnt on a CD, it was like "If the PS1 port of Tekken 2 didn't featured loading times, why the PS port of Ordyne does?", and to make them worse, the game has to load after pressing start right after you've add a credit to play. Yeah, just like the Taito Legends 2 version of RayStorm and G-Darius. But it had plenty of other content like a database with a gallery and character info, although Chin was renamed as Felix for some reason, not to mention the in-game store font was changed to a larger one, probably based on the Japanese version, and the translation is more accurate. We had to way another 26 years and both PlayStations 4 and 5 (or just the Nintendo Switch if you're a Nintendo enthusiast) until Hamster and Namco released Ordyne as part of Arcade Archives, where we can play the game without the loading screens just like the real arcade. While it lacks of the bonus contents of Namco Museum, it has the option of playing both the Japanese and the International versions, along with the Hi-Score and Caravan Modes, along with a few trophies that you can get for obtaining high scores on both Original and Hi-Score Modes.

The burning rotating maze.

Being the second game released with the System II board, Namco exploited what they've learned on Assault with the rotating effects and sprite scaling and they put them on practice in an horizontal shmup with solid and rapid effects, even if it wasn't on the supermassive scale they did on Assault. This is mostly noticed in Stages 2, 5 and 7 with the rotating stage hazards featured in said areas, being the rotating mazes of Stages 2 and 7 the most stunning of all as the pixel rotation effect is as good as we saw on Assault because we have rotating pixels that adapt to the speed without graphical issues. The attention to minimal details is very well appreciated. A nice example is the pilot's hair moving to the left or right based on the ship's movement. The colors are also a massive improvement as we have gradiant effects with different tones. Not to mention the lighting effects on the title screen and Stage clear/Name Entry screens that emulate those fancy effects of old animated cartoons. For a 1988 game, this is a resounding accomplishment.

The music is different from what you might expect from a "Cute'em Up" game as Shinji Hosoe brings us an action filled catchy, funky and rhythmic soundtrack that breaks with the cartoony-silly monotony of Cute'em Ups like Fantasy Zone. Stage 2 is the best of the examples with its fast, yet calm funk beat that brings an unique musical atmosphere to the stage while Stage 3 makes a fast approach on fast action. It worth of mention the good clarity of the percussion sounds utilized in this game at the point that no longer sound like chiptunes or sound effects attempting to do the percussion, almost like a CD quality game before the CD-based games were a reality. This is also one of the first Namco shmups with voice samples and they're quite an accomplishment since they don't sound muffled or garbled. You can hear the "Kukira-kukira-kukikukikukira" of the insects on Stage 2 and of course, Miyuki's dialogues for the shop which regardles of which version you're playing, they're on Japanese.


Do you have an ADF-11 on sale?

- This game is the second instance in Namco history where Pac-Man is used as a weapon and/or enemy, being Baraduke/Alien Sector's Paccetians and the purple Pac-Man creature the first time.
- Miyuki had a couple of cameos. The first one was as a "Prince Paco" taco vendor on Mach Breakers and the second is on a shop in Project X Zone.
- The Arcade Archives version is the third home console port of the game and the second Arcade-perfect port overall.


Ordyne is more than just a simple Cute'em up. It is a visual spectacle that was meant to surprise oldschoolers and present day gamers alike. Even with 34 years it is still visually stunning and the incapacity of the 16 bit consoles on fully recreating it is a testimony of how ahead of its time this game was.
If "Shall I buy this game for the PS4/Switch?" is your burning question, the answer is an obvious "YES".

Another Namco shmup on Arcade Archives is just one more step towards Fighter & Attacker and NebulasRay. Hope Namco consider those two someday.

Three positive scale results can't lie. Go ahead and give the game a try.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup and video game reviews with humorous criticism.

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