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 Post subject: Paladin (XBOX One - Nintendo Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:58 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 265
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Back to the retro-styled shooting. This time is Paladin, and please don't confuse it with Paladins, Google already made that confusion.

To begin with, the game offers you these gameplay options

ADVENTURE: Your main game with a progression counter indicating how far you've progressed.
COUNTDOWN: The Time Attack of the game.
ENDURANCE: This is what we can call the Survival Mode,
GUARDIANS: The Defender-like mode where you have to save the humans from being abducted and survive as far as possible.
DEADLINE: 3 Minute Rounds where do you have to pause the timer.

The game gives you the option of select one of the many ships available. The only complain that i have about it is the fact that all of them are available from the beginning, specially since the game requires to complete Adventure with each ship to reach 100%, so the replay value has already taken a hit and we haven't start the game yet. That could be too drastic if the ship had very different attacks, ¿but guess what?, most of the ships have similar abilities and weapons. The only difference is their Rage attacks could unleash rapid lasers, larger bullets, bullet curtains or short ranged pulse bursts because their main weapons are basically the same: some ships have single shots and others twin shots.

Virtual Boy-ed up vectorial combat, those blue details make seeing red something less painful.

We already know that Adventure is the main feature of the game. This is your basic twin-stick horizontal shooter that borrows elements from Williams' classic arcade shmup Defender and its NES sequel Defender II. However, its more focused on destroying enemies rather than saving people. Well, there's things to save in Paladin, and those are the cities. In later levels you'll have to destroy UFO's that will attack your cities, saving your cities is importaint if you're aiming for a high score. Also, if a city is destroyed it becomes a stage hazard as it fires a lightning bolt that blocks your way, trying to cross the lightning bolt will result in damaging your ship, so you have to wait until it dissipates and cross during its reload time. Unfortunately, this punishment/stage hazard lasts for the rest of the game, so there's no way to recover the destroyed city on the next level.
Another "punishment" that you'll face quite often is what i call the "Time Out Squadron". If the time gauge on the upper left depletes before destroying all enemies, a group of 6 UFO's will enter to take you down. They move erratically and they fire exploding bullets, so if you have to face them, take them down first and then concentrate on the rest of the level.

The enemy variety is quite diverse, from the basic "popcorn" enemies that goes down with one shot to ships with life bars to asteroids that bounce vertically and split when they're destroyed and even worms with the head as weakpoint. All of these are good because destroying them drop squares that are the currency of the game, giving you 10 or 20 credits. Picking credits is essential for this game since buying items is a necessity and you can't waste even a second on leaving one single credit square 'cos they dissappear if you don't take them.

Better upgrades are unlocked in later levels.

Investments are part of the Adventure mode, everytime you complete the level, the Shop will be open. This is where you can buy power ups for you and the cities in the style of U.N. Squadron. The only problem is that like in Super Star Blast, your lives are in the "Each Sold Separately" category and what's worse, the price of each life climbs up with each purchase. This is one of those games where shop investing is going to be the worst enemy of this game because you'll have to decide to either buy a defense upgrade so your cities can survive an alien attack or buy lives so you can pass more stages.

Dangerous! Pay attention to backwards!

Each 10 levels, you'll face a boss battle at the end of the level. The main weakness is not the Boss' main body, but its four cannons. While this brings some originality on the concept of destroying a boss, it can be tricky to hit the rear cannon.

Ironically, if you complete all the stages with the seven ships, you'll only get 97.50% of game completion since Stage 40 doesn't count.

¿How long can you survive?

Countdown is the second gameplay mode, and the first optional one. Unlike Adventure, Countdown has one specific goal: Destroy the enemies within a time limit, or should i say "Time Gauge". as the time is marked on a self-depleting gauge at the top left. If gathering credits in Adventure was a Life-or-Death matter, in Countdown it's a complete Do-or-Die since money buys 1 or 2 seconds, reducing the depleting speed of the Time Gauge. Dying from time out isn't the only way to lose the game, if you lose your lives it's Game Over too. Fortunately, you won't have to worry about buying upgrades, you'll get'em for free as you progress in the game. However, the upgrades you get are only Fire Rate increasing.

In order to win the citizens respect, you've must save their city.

Endurance is a game mode based on one of the game's secondary objectives: Keeping the cities alive the longest time possible by taking down all the enemies who are trying to destroy them all. Like in Countdown, you'll get a free upgrade as you progress in the game, but the game will decide which upgrade you will get.

Defender: Funko Pop Edition

Guardians differs from the other three modes since it focuses on an unique objective: protect humans from being abducted, just like the good old Defender and Defender II did. Unlike the other modes, you don't get upgrades in your game progression.

Fighting in a tick, dead on a tock.

Deadline has one goal: To stop the timer as much as possible. To do that you'll need to pick up cash badly, 'cos the time's fixed to three minutes and everytime you get hit will result in "Resetting Simulation", which re-starts the screen, taking precious time. You'll get weapon upgrades as you progress.

I could say getting the achievements is once again your typical videogame junk food, even at expense of sounding repetitive. But really i think unlocking achievements should be a balanced thing just like the difficulty was in videogames throughout history: Tough but fair. In Paladin's case, all of the achievements are focused in Adventure mode, from filling your Rage gauge to saving up to $35,000. This makes the "100% completion" of Adventure and playing the other modes quite useless.

Graphically, the game blends the minimalism and the vectorial graphics in one single thing as your ship, enemies and buildings are simple shapes with almost non-existing details while the mountains are vectorial traced. Something that is quite unique is that the game colors change when you play, quit and return, resulting in random color combinations giving a different environment on each play.

The music is your typical electronic-trance beats that you'll hear on a nightclub. While it keeps in tune with the fast paced gameplay, it becomes forgettable after a few loops since they're like 4 tracks or so.

- The achievement names "Hot Shots!" and "Hot Shots! Part Deux" are a reference to the series of comedy films of the same name which were parodies of Top Gun and Rambo: First Blood Part Two.
- "Eye of the Tiger" is a song created by Survivor at request of Sylvester Stallone as the theme of the 1982 film Rocky III, it is also the theme of the 1986 film Eye of the Tiger and parodied by Weird Al Yankovic as "Rye of the Kaiser".
- "If It Bleeds" is a reference to the quote "If it bleeds, we can kill it." from the film Predator.
- "David Banner" makes reference to the protagonist David Bruce Banner from the 1977 The Incredible Hulk TV series.
- "Rainy Day" refers to a reserved amount of money to be used in times when regular income is disrupted or decreased in order for typical operations to continue.
- "Killer Queen" makes reference to the 1974 song of the same name composed by Queen.
- The Viper's Nuke name "Lightning Blast" could be a reference to a card from Magic: The Gathering.

Overall, we're at a nice take on the Defender-styled shooters that i'm sure most old-schoolers will be pleased to play and include it to their shmup collection, if you're asking for bullet hell, go somewhere else.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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