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 Post subject: Mars: Chaos Menace (XB1 - PS4 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:03 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 286
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
More multiconsole shoot-outs, this time: Mars: Chaos Menace.

In this new era of space combat, ISAF sent Mobius 1 to engage the martian threats.

Like some XB1 shooters, Mars: Chaos Menace seems to have one single mode, but four save slots in the style of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Like in the Zelda games, you can name your character/file using your name or even a callsign. Then you're given the option of picking a blue or a green robot. The game doesn't explain what's up, but the Blue robot is the full-frontal Linear type while the Green one is the Spread shot type. The "Basic Two" just like the Mosquitos from Mars Matrix: Hyper Solid Shooting.

The Mars World Tour 3000, Rockin' Down the Martian House.

Clearing stages will unlock them so you can revisit any stage you've finished as much as you want. This comes in handy if you want to make a short run without clearing all of the stages.

Welcome to the Jungle, we've got fun and games.

In this vertical shooter, the controls are simple to learn. You've got a frontal shot which is activated with the X Button and the A Button is the back shot. Learning this is important since this game attacks you from every front. You also have a Laser (Plasma in the indicator) which is like the "Hold fire button" Beam in DonPachi, but unlike DonPachi, your laser overheats and it has to cool off. Fortunately it reloads faster than XenoRaptor or Contra Rogue Corps. The Laser is also useful with small ground-based enemies since they're too small to get hit by your regular shots. You can also aim the laser as a back support, to do that you have to press the back shot button and then the Laser. To make it fire as a frontal weapon just press the Frontal shot button.
You are also equipped with a shield which can be activated using the Left Trigger. The Shield is also the charger of the Special Attack. By absorbing enemy bullets, your Shield will be damaged and even destroyed if it takes too much damage. If its destroyed, the Shield gauge will be transfered to 1 of 3 Special Attacks, these are your bombs, or more like a homing laser blast that hits multiple nearby enemies, quite useful but here's a catch: It's very weak.

During your mission you can also get additional support from pods which provide extra firepower by picking a blue or green orb. The blue orb activates a drone with a frontal laser shot, while the green grants you a 2 way spread shot drone. Picking orbs of the same color will increase the number of drones to a maximum of three. If you pick one of another color, you'll reset the total of drones back to one.

While the game weapon configuration could be considered basic, it retains some interesting features like the Multiplier. An enemy is normally worth 100 points, but destroying multiple enemies increase the value to 130, 210, up to 500 as the game uses the multiplier feature. Keeping the Multiplier up as much as possible is the priority in this game when it comes to rack up a high score, as it drops with time when there's no enemies on screen or they're not destroyed fast enough.

Like in Starship Troopers, you'll be facing arachnid threats beyond your wildest nightmares.

During your mission, you can only count on your frontal and back shooting function, and i say that because the pods that provides you additional support are temporary, once they begin to blink, they'll be gone leaving you with your linear shot or 4-way spread depending on which Eco 7 you've picked. Also, there's no power ups for your main shot, and that's one hell of a problem since your normal shots are pretty weak on almost everything, even the power up towers, forcing you to use the Laser/Plasma Beam, which unfortunately overheats.
Another problem is the Not-so useful shield. For instance, one of the bosses fire a twin stream of bullets with a safe spot in the center that moves with the streams, If you're out of the safe zone and you try to get in using your shield, you'll end up taking a hit even with the shield activated ¿How can you trust on your shield with a problem like this? You have the basic amount of 3 lives, and if you're defeated you'll have to repeat the stage all the way back from the beginning.
The final stages (Volcanic Sector) are a letdown, not just because you're pitten in the generic lava stage, but because it's a rematch with the previous bosses, no true final boss for the game.

Picking the right gem is also a life or death priority 'cos some gems make Eco 7 explode worse than others.

Everytime you complete the 2 main levels that compose a sector, the game sends you to a bonus stage where you have to pick gold gems. In these levels your only worries are to elude other colors like green, blue and red gems 'cos they will make Eco 7 explode. Fortunately if you die you're given the option of retry the bonus level, skip it or simply return to the title screen.

The game features 10 achievements. While some of them are easy to obtain like the 100 matches or 10,000 kills, others are just absurdely demanding like reaching 10,000,000 and 100,000,000 points and have 1,000 matches. The first two are confusing, since you can get around 50,000 to 90,000 points in some stages, the answer is simple: Is an accumulated total. You have to play the game constantly, very, very, very, VERY constantly at the point of feeling forced to play in order to get those three i've mentioned. While i understand the idea of the designers of keeping you playing as long as possible, the game's replay value dies with a few "runs". At the 5th run it feels boring and repetitive as the gameplay loses its charm. I mean, i have my favorites when it comes to shmups: Triggerheart Exelica, Blazing Star, Thunder Force V and Natsuki Chronicles, but those have earned my preference with addicting gameplay mechanics and balanced challenge that makes you come back for more. Mars: Chaos Menace lacks of that charm, combined with some unfair instances (the laser trap at Desert Sector 2 by indestructible laser firing enemies) or the not-so protective shield problem that i've mentioned before, makes the idea quite of a "call it quits". From my perspective, they had an idea with the score multipliers and have great visuals, but the issues makes it fail on the execution of a potentially good game, and i'm doesn't surprise me that nobody had unlocked the 100,000,000 point achievement yet.

Pay attention before pressing the button or else you'll be on the title screen faster than you can say [Expletive].

Something that i've found unorthodox is that the game reversed the "Yes" or "No" option when you lose all your lives. I say this because sometimes by pure instinct i hit the button believing that like most games and just when i thought the cursor on the right was "No", it was actually on "Yes" until i was back on the logo, i didn't noticed the options order were reversed.

Finish the...¿what?, Apparently Eco 7 forgot to complete the message.
¿Or this is a reference to the "I WILL FINISH WHAT I STA..." chalk gag from The Simpsons?

Another game screw-up is the incomplete indications in the bonus levels, rather than using text scrolling for large messages, the game message ends in "any other crystal will finish the", an example of a rushed job. Lesson to learn here: Check before release. Also, this is another game with fractured english. "You have beaten you record" instead of "your record". Yeah, we have a candidate for "Who wants to be the next Blazing Star?" on Engrish category.

¿Remember when SNES Shmups gave us better endings that this? Man, i miss those days.

The ending of this game is what can i call "Lack of Effort". Just text later followed by the credits, almost as bad as Solar Shifter EX or Super Space Serpent Secondary Edition. It's a shame for Mars: Chaos Menace to give us a sorry excuse of an ending considering the well made artwork this game had.
In the end we've got another entry in the "A Winner is You" category of videogame endings.

Gears of War: Oblivion Edition (Tom Cruise DLC not included)

When it comes to graphics, this game aims high, as it uses very well detailed scenery, specially the water segments where you can see the submerged rocks. Very few games focus on the visual beauty of the scenery (Super Nova/Darius Force for instance), and Mars: Chaos Menace is one of them. The character design is quite unique as it uses an unmanned robot rather than the typical human or aircraft character. My only complain is that the playable robots are the same design rather than make them different for the sake of visual variety.
The cutscenes might be the simple still images, but the nicely drawn illustrations are very impressive and they look like movie concept illustrations.

In the sound department, the game bring us good upbeat, fast-paced soundtrack with a slight retro-style reminiscence. For instance, the Jungle Sector stages have a musical style and pace that fits perfectly on OutZone and the underwater sector is very Megaman X influenced.

- For a fully terraformed Mars, the game storyline must be located between 1,000 or 2,000 years in the future.
- The volcanic activity on Mars is implausible since the core of the planet "died out" billions of years ago, resulting in the mantle's solidification.

In the end we have a game that while has stunning visuals and good music, it features a quite boring and repetitive gameplay and the last achievements feel more like a desperate attempt to keep you playing more. Remember: The player's preference to a game has to be earned, not forced.

TO THE GAME STAFF: Don't be discouraged by the review, i know where you're planning to go with the game's ideas, but you just need to correct the mentioned issues and you'll get a better game. If you want us to get 100,000,000 points you can learn from hi-scoring based games like Blazing Star and RayStorm, that's a perfect example.
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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