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 Post subject: Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition (XB1 - PS4 - NS - PC)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:02 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 228
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Intense dogfights in fast scrolling tunnels, just like in Blazing Star's sixth stage!

Time to review more of those Multi-console shmups, this time is Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition.
Oh my god, Indie-shooters. Playing each one of them is like embarking on an adventure without knowing the outcome: You can get a hidden masterpiece, an average shooter worth a few plays or a broken mess. They're just an unique experience, but i'm not here to write novels, so let's get into the review:

From basic vertical scroll to Thunder Force-esque exploration, sounds interesting enough.

The game, while its a vertical scroll shooter, it offers two variations of this type of game: The basic auto-scrolling vertical shootout, and then the exploration styled shooter that reminds me of the classic Thunder Force II and Desert Strike. However, this game throws us an array of abilities, starting off with a Lock-On Blaster that can be aimed in a certain direction and keep it there while you lock on another enemy, you have also a shield to protect yourself and the unlockable Isvaras which give you melee attacks, flamethrowers, and even magnetism. But the best part is when you can use the Regeneration feature to recover health, acting pretty much like the Reserve Tanks from Super Metroid. The Berserk allows you to open fire on an increased rate while the camera zooms out to see where the enemies are located. Like Raiden V and Shienryu, this game relies on the camera zoom-out to increase the player's view of the battlefield.
You can also scan things in the combat zone in Analysis Mode. Scan from enemies to key areas of the battlefield to obtain data and unlock other regions, You can also gather Oxus which can be used as Power Points or consume them as your bombs, although its more convenient to do the first thing if you want to upgrade your Anakim (not to be confused with a certain Hayden Christensen character) and survive as long as possible.

Vertical "Shmuptroid" with quite frustrating puzzle elements.

During the exploration segments you'll be faced with puzzle elements that range from the basic use of the Lock-on shot to using magnetism and even problem solving things like being chased by a missile to clear a path blocked by explosives. This is where if you're the kind of gamer that gets easily stressed with these kind of situations better stop playing this game.

*Insert Star Wars "Tatooine Overworld" music here*
Mos Eisley must be at the south east region of the desert!

Later in the game you'll be granted with the ability to transform your Anakim into a fast ship, enabling the Navigation Mode. Although you can not fire in this mode, you can dash to gain a short burst of acceleration to avoid enemy fire like homing missiles.

This is the part where any normal player would pull the plug on trying to finish it.

While the game features a saving system between levels, resulting in a very functional checkpoint system. This feature has a fatal flaw: Unlike Megaman X or Ninja Gaiden III, the game is a sadistic bastard that doesn't have the courtesy of refilling your health if you die, which means that if you've reached the checkpoint with 1% of life you're automatically screwed, and its even worse when the boss/sub-boss fight involves puzzle elements and quick Isvara switching 'cos if you have accumulated 7 Oxus before dying and you select "Back to Petra" if you die, you'll lose those hard obtained Oxus just like in those Sandlot Earth Defense Force games where the upgrades are only validated until you finish a mission. Add more problems like ammo runout on your default weapon and a 3 second wait before reload (worse than Contra Rogue Corps), combined with the infamous "Turridamage" of no afterhit invincibility Turrican-styled. The result: Controllers Thrown at the Mission Failed screen.

The "Commodore Room" features all the comodities of a suite just to give the soldiers the most comfortable stay during wartime.
Includes 24 hour Swimming Pool, Lunch Buffette, Internet and Visualtron with NASCAR on FOX, UEFA TV, NBA TV and NFL Network.

After the tutorial stage, you'll be in Eneas Room where you have different options like Database, Music Player, Options and the Save capsule.
Options allows you to adjust the control sensibility, music and sound volumes and the game's language to English or Spanish.

All the lore of Ekron at your [Unlocked] disposal.

Database is just like the Librarian bestiary from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. This is your guide where you can learn about the enemies, terminology and characters of the game, along with some of the game's lore with good amounts of information to learn about.

Unfortunately, there's no Metallica or Real McCoy songs in this playlist.

Music Player is the Sound Test of the game, as you can hear the songs you unlock as you complete more stages in the game.

The Jedi Conuncil must be somewhere in this place.

Once you leave Eneas Room, you'll be in Coruscant, i mean the Petra Martial Institute screen where you can return to the room, visit the Hangar, go to the Simulation Room or hit the Headquarters.
The Headquarters is where you can select any available missions. You can pick any stage you want like in the Megaman games, making the game less linear and more open to the player's decisions.

Your efficient working bench, just insert the Oxus and let the machine do the work for you.

Hangar allows you to talk with the mechanic or upgrade your Anakim's attributes such as speed, life and Oxus capacity, Ballistics (how fast and strong your regular shots are) and Isvara's strength as you'll unlock this later in the game. It is important to know where you're going to spend the points. Here's my strategy and i hope it helps you if you've got the misfortune of picking this game: Increase Ballistics, Life capacity and Speed first.

This is the "SFTI Program" of Ekron. Dude, ¿Do you have some patience to spare?

Simulation Room is where you can revisit old missions if you want to scan something that you forgot, talk with the instructor and select special Drills.
Drills is a quite interesting section as the game includes a hell of a lot of mini-missions to obtain extra Oxus without going to a battle. In order to get the most points, you have to complete all the objectives to obtain a Gold Star, however, this is more easy to say than do 'cos the requirements will be like "Destroy the objectives with 1 Blaster", "Complete in "XX" seconds", "Use 10 shots or less". Also, unlocking other missions will require you to fully complete the tasks where you failed one of the objectives.

Dusting off the Turbografx, kid? Check this out.

There's a second game mode called Invaders of Ekron. This 16-bit inspired mini-game is a very basic textbook shooter where the only function you have is to fire frontally. No power-ups or special attacks. It's you and your skills against the enemy bullet curtains in four intense-yet-fun levels. It still retains the "Turridamage" and the ammo-runout but it still more enjoyable than the main game.

You know what it really sucks of this game?: Some of the achievements are impossible to unlock: Retro Gamer, which is obtained by completing the 4 stages of Invaders of Ekron seems to be glitched because it won't unlock even if you cleared the game. There's already a complaint of another player about this problem, and it looks like they don't care about that 'cos it still remains unfixed. So it's the first time in all those years as an XBOX One shmupper that I've heard about glitched achievements.

Let's go back to talk about positive things of this game. Graphically, the game uses 2D artwork that feels like a painting coming to life in your consoles with vibrant colors and fully animated detailings like perspective views as we leave a cliff, the moving things in Eneas Room or any of Petra's rooms, and even your Anakim's recoiling arms while firing. For an indie shooter, it is very impressive. My only complain is that there's no cursor or glowing border indicating what you're selecting.

First time i'm glad to see the western styled character designs. Thank Straimium Immortaly for that.

After realizing they used the everytime less common western realistic comic style designs, I was ready to make fun of them as I always use to do, drop another critic about it and talk about bikini-wearing anime styled girls sipping umbrella drinks on the beach.
¿But guess what? it's the first time, the FIRST TIME EVER, I'm happy to see this. Specially after ruining my eyes and horrifying myself (and any of you guys) watching the abominations from Straimium Immortaly which were unbearable to watch (the same thing goes for Sine Mora EX). Really, its good go have human characters again after playing a shmup with monstrosities as protagonists.

The graphics of Invaders of Ekron are very reminiscent of the PC Engine, Super Star Soldier and Blazing Lazers to be more exact, and its nice to see a return to the 16-bit after all those NES-like 8-bit inspired games and on Invaders of Ekron's case, it relies on some tricks to add in-depth backgrounds with double layered backgrounds, while they're not as fast paced as Zanac A.I. they still give the impression of movement as your ship makes its way to the final confrontation.

As for the music, it mostly relies on what i call "Soft Rock" as we've got this slightly slow paced guitaring but without lacking the power or force that a shooter requires, along with some suspenseful tunes during the Exam stage that fit with the atmosphere of the game. The game doesn't have voice acting and it's a shame 'cos this game already have good things despite the show-stopping problems I've faced in the few hours of playing this game.

Needs a teary-eyed Natsuki looking at your cosmic debris.
I know this is not Ginga Force, but i don't care.

In conclusion, we're with a game that tries to pull a good challenge and execute RPG and puzzle elements, but in the end, it reaches its worst when it comes on execute the puzzle stuff resulting in frustrating moments that will make most gamers quit in disgust.
There's a very thin line between difficult and impossible, and whoever made this game doesn't know the difference. In resume, avoid this game.
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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