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 Post subject: M.A.C.E. Space Shooter (XBOX One - Nintendo Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:56 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 265
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
EntwicklerX is at it again, this time is M.A.C.E. Space Shooter, in fact, this is one of Entwickler's first works, and judging by the Title Screen it only offers us one mode, then this review is gonna be quite short.

The basic stuff: Shoot down asteroids.

Once again we're pitted to a basic, vertical shooter that according to EntwicklerX, aims to keep the Spirit of Amiga shooters, so we know what to expect, any Touhou Project and Strikers 1945 III bullet hell lovers can leave if you're not interested about easy bullet patterns. However, simple formations and "Popcorn" enemies are among the basics of shooting, so having those altogether not always mean a boring game.

First of all, let's start with the weaponry that you'll find in this game.
For a basic shooter, having more than 3 selectable weapons is good enough. Well, in this game you'll get 8 weapons at your disposal and best of all, you can switch them in the fly.

GUN: The default shot of your ship. This weapon begins as a single shot and can be upgraded to become a Twin Shot and finally a Three Way spread for basic damages.
PLASMA: The basic "Energy" weapon. If fires blue bullets of a slightly increased strength than the Gun. Like the previous weapon, it can be upgraded to Twin to a Triple Shot.
LASER: The second Energy weapon, and first "Armor Piercing" type. If fires a fast twin laser shot that passes through everything. Powering this weapon up changes it from Triple to Five-beam wide shot.
SONIC: Another "Armor Piercing" type. This one fire a slow paced green orb of energy that passes through the enemy. The bullet's size and strength increases on each power up.
MAGMA: The "Exploding" type. It fires a bullet that scatters in an 8 way shot after impact just like the Scattershot from Space Megaforce / Super Aleste. Its strength increases on each power up.
BOUNCE: The "Rebound" type. Fires three pink balls that bounce on an enemy after hitting it. Power ups increase the size and strength of the Bounce shots.
THUNDER: The "Lock-On" weapon. Fires a blue sphere of energy that shoots laser beams to nearby enemies for a short period of time. Powering up this weapon will allow you to fire two and even three spheres.
RIFLE: The "Heavy Machine Gun" type. Fires rapid but powerful twin shots that causes great damages at expense of a "Single shot" width. Power ups increase the Rifle's fire rate and strength.

Other items available can be found by destroying asteroids, a specific enemy or an Item Carrier.
SHIELD: That provides you with a force field that protects you from a few hits before depleting, however a colision with an enemy or an asteroid could take it down with one hit.
COMPANION: Adds two small ships on the sides providing additional fire, this is helpful during boss battles.
BOMB: Grants you an additional bomb to your Bomb stock.
HEALTH: Replenishes your hit points back to 10.
1up: Extra ship, no need to explain further.
RHINO: Homing Missile (the voice sample sounds like "Rhino"), it fires a single homing missile that hits a random enemy.

Do i take down the Mid-boss or should i take the risk and shoot down the Item Carrier next to it?

The game offers three difficulty options: Easy, Normal and Hard. Keep in mind that if you you quit the game in Stage 12 on Easy and select Normal in the title screen, the game will reset all the way to level 1.

Difficulty is a major problem on this game, not because its a bullet hell, on the opposite, while this game is the basic vertical shooter, the game manages to unbalance things. An unmentioned rule of shooting is that the "Popcorn Enemies" go down with one hit regardless of the player's power level. In this case, those popcorn bastards take two or three hits to die, making things difficult in Normal and Hard since enemies and formations can hide items (tagged as Secrets at the end of the level), forcing you to burn a bomb, the same problem goes to the asteroids that take up to 10 hits before exploding. Judging the too high enemy/object HP situation makes me think both Normal and Hard were intended for 2 Players rather than 1. Combine High HP with slow bullet speed in 7 of your 8 weapons and a total of 18 stages and you've got a mess of problems already, making the game feel like a badly executed Dezaemon exercise adapted to the modern consoles.

So, the best way to enjoy the game is playing it on Easy because it follows the basic rules of shooting the way it is and its still challenging because it has a balance on enemy and object HP. However, taking the absurd risks of Hard has at least some rewards, and that's a higher score. While finishing the game on Easy gives you more than 300,000 points, clearing the game in Hard results in around 530,000. Regardless of the selected difficulty, you are given the option of restarting the level if you screw up, resulting in an exercise of trial and error but at the same time it ease things a little during a Hard-level run. Also, you have another option in your favor; The save and quit function that allows you to retake the session where you left off. Clearing the game in Hard is required to get all the score achievements. There's a total of 10 achievements so that's right, it's another "Buy-and-Forget" Gamerscore Milker.

Hand-drawn boss battles. You don't see that nowadays.

Graphically, every aspect of the game looks hand-drawn, something quite uncommon in videogames. Not to mention, this is executed way better than Xenoraid because it's more animated, mostly when your ship moves. Also, it relies on the multiple screen just like in Thunder Force IV and multi-layers like Zanac A.I. on the NES. increasing the depth effect on the game.

As for the music, it pulls an ambient styled rhythm evocative of Jean-Michel Jarre's era, similar to albums like Magnetic Fields combined with a little of New Age in the style of David Lanz and Paul Speer's Desert Vision. However, the music tracks are played like those old CD-based consoles where the music fades and the next track begins rather than having a more normal "each stage has its theme" with loops in a certain part to make it last longer, so you'll end up hearing two songs for each stage. Also, keep in mind that each world has only two themes and they're 6 stages each, so you'll end up hearing the same songs a lot of times, making it repetitive.

While the game has voiced samples for each upgrade, the problem is that the weapon's name is heard everytime you switch weapons. So each time you switch from Gun to Bounce will be like "GUN!PLAS-LASER-SON-MAGMA-BOUNCE!" and again and again when you have you switch weapons. This is even worse than the "BONUS-BO-BO-BONU-BONU-BONUS!" from Blazing Star, but not as horrible than the real grand champion, the "Show me what you Go-oO-O-o-Oo-O-oOT!" from Aero Fighters 3.

- The "Get Ready" voice sample was re-used in Super Star Blast.
- The "Maximus Achievement" is obtained by having all 8 weapons at its maximum power level, this is easier to do if the game is played on Easy.
- There's an astronomical error in one of the first stage of the game as we can see Earth quite close to Jupiter in the background. This is also reminiscent of the planets Remulia and Mutras from Blazing Star.

In the end Entwickler threw at us an unbalanced mess of a basic shooter that breaks the basic rules of shooting. Another game that doesn't deserve your money, just like their later work Super Star Blast, and like such, just wait until the game becomes "Free with Gold" or something.

To EntwicklerX: Dude, you should REALLY reconsider to update this game, since the game has even worse problems than Super Star Blast. If you're trying to keep the "Spirit of Amiga" shmups, that's not the way.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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