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 Post subject: Sturmwind EX (XBOX One - Nintendo Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:54 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
A Sturm review written by Sturm featuring humorous criticism by Sturm.
Sturmvogel Prime brings you the review of Sturmwind EX.

Sturmwind was originally released on the Sega Dreamcast as many of the "doujin" games released for the console like Last Hope, Ghost Blade and GunLord.
Like Ghost Blade got its re-release on the XBOX One, PS4 and Wii U, so it did Sturmwind as Sturmwind EX.

Remember Axelay? Man, those were great times.

The game only has two modes: Mission and Arcade Modes. Whatever mode you choose, your ship features a selectable three weapon system. So, let's take a look at what this game has to offer.
LICHTBLITZ: The "Swirl" type as it makes a large circle that shortens as it moves forward on the screen, pretty much like the Red-Blue laser from R-Type. It is a middle strength weapon, making this the balanced weapon, but it has a special advantage in underwater levels.
NORDWEST: The "360° Vulcan" as it fires a twin vulcan shot that gradually becomes frontal just like the Round Vulcan from Axelay. Good for multidirectional attacks and combined with drones, you'll get a fixed frontal shot that backs up the round shooting.
RUDEL: If Nordwest is the Round Vulcan, then Rudel is the Straight Laser of this Axelay clone. It fires a strong laser in a frontal direction, so there's not too much to explain about it.

You can power up your weapons with drones. adding additional firepower and an optional bi-directional firing, ideal for having a basic defense when you concentrate the main firepower as the back shot.

Although you have a Smart Bomb (wrongly written as "Smartbomb") to destroy everyting on the screen, you have a 2-level chargeable Beam like in R-Type II / Super R-Type. But it has a very negative side-effect. Unlike Super R-Type where the level 2 charge resetted as long as you held the button, in Sturmwind it will destroy the weapon you're charging. So if you don't want to lose your weapon or know what Zero felt in Megaman X when he overcharged his Arm Cannon to destroy Vile's Ride Armor, then release the Beam button before the "T" in "OVERHEAT" appears.

Now that we've know the basic weaponry, now let's take a look at the game. Mission Mode (Wrongly written as "Missionmode") is the main game. Comprised of 16 stages in 3 levels of difficulty, this mode allows you to save your progress if you die, which means the levels you've passed so you can continue later. However, you can only replay the missions you've passed on the difficulty you've played, which means that if you've reached Level 4.1 on Easy, you'll have to reach that stage in Normal and Hard, preventing the player from dodging the previous stages in other difficulties forcing him/her to play from the beginning in another difficulty. Playing in harder levels of difficulty won't be a problem if it wasn't for a small thing: Life Restrictions. Depending on which difficulty level you're playing, you'll be granted with a limited amount of lives. Easy grants you 3 ships, Normal just 2 and Hard only 1. Another problem is that like in Super Mario Bros. 1 is the zero of the game, meaning that if you die it's Game Over. To me this is already a problem that shouldn't had to happen. I can understand the premise of difficulty by relying on stronger enemies and slightly more complex bullet patterns, but when you're telling me that being hard means limiting the trial and error then you're not talking difficulty, we're talking [EXPLETIVE] gaming. Well, there's one ups in the game, but they're hidden across the stage and (like the 2,500 Bonus items) are well hidden at the point of being cryptic 'cos there's not a hint to figure their location. Another problem that could be avoided is the forced-active weapon powering up only thing. Because if you pick another weapon different from the one you're using it won't power it up, making the item picking a waste. You've gotta be a fast weapon switcher to fully power up your three weapons or else you'll be hearing buzzers because it won't power up the unactive weapons.

Now let's talk about the good aspects of the game. This horizontal shooter features a "Wave Bonus" everytime you destroy all the enemy formations that appear, then the words "WAVE BONUS" will appear and you have to destroy them to unlock the Bonus Star which multiplies your score. Yeah, shoot the words just like in Thunder Dragon II / Big Bang Power Shooting. Although you have a Round Vulcan-like weapon, you're given the option of switch your fire from frontal to back thanks to the "Drone Formation" feature. While the Blitzlicht and the Rudel provide a frontal-rear simultaneous attack with the drone support, the Nordwest reverts the initial direction of the circular fire, granting full control which can be described as the perfection of the Axelay's Round Vulcan.
Speaking of Axelay, the game features the same weapon damage system of losing one of your weapons if you get hit, although you don't have an emergency weapon if your three weapons are gone, you're granted the option of getting them back by picking the letter of the weapon you've lost.

As and XBOX One and Switch game, it features achievements that only the most experts will get all of them, if you don't pull the plug attempting to complete the game in Hard due to the reasons mentioned above (Are you Top Gun enough for Sturmwind EX, flyboy?).

Switching from Horizontal to Semi-Verical Shooter.

Like in Axelay, the game isn't just horizontal scrolled shooting, there's vertical stages like this one, but with this horizontal "Tate"-like screen, looks more like Twin Falcons or the Garm stages from Natsuki Chronicles. But still, its good to break with the all-horizontal shooter action once in a while.

Arcade-like fun, with "So-real-it-hurts" graphics.

Arcade mode (wrongly written as "Arcademode") is the "light" version of this game as it only features 6 of the 16 stages, but it doesn't have continues if you die, making the task of completing the game in Hard extremely difficult since it carries the remaining lives restriction of Mission Mode. Fortunately, there's no achievements to unlock in this mode.

The Route of Nemesis RE:Visited

The graphic part of this game it has to be the best i've saw. With photo-realistic scenery that doesn't use CG renders like the big commercial games, Sturmwind EX is capable of bringing incredible render-like animations in large scale like the scenery bosses without losing details. The best way to describe this is like if someone took the super-detail concept of Blazing Star (Hyper CG Shooting according to the Neo-Geo package) and applied it on HD graphics at the point of feeling like an interactive illustration rather than your common CG model that you'd find on a game like Otomedius Excellent or R-Type Final. A great example of this is the machinery in level 1.2, where platforms and mechanisms move constantly. Natural scenery and effects are well rendered too like the water and fire, with the exception of the huge explosion during Stage 1 boss that looks overpixelated.
With such extraordinary amounts of detail, sometimes is confusing which parts of the scene are surface or decoration, resulting in accidental collisions, so the best way to avoid a crash is to memorize the stage.

Super Detailed Bosses!, Taking the concept of HD to new heights!

The bosses are not excent of these visual wonders, specially the mechanical ones as they feature multiple moving parts like the limbs and are composed of several structures like metallic frames and wires making them look like technological art wonders rather than enemies that you should defeat.

Looks like Bren McGuire wants some attention after all these years.

In a curious cameo hidden in Level 1.2, we can find Turrican running if we shoot to the upper part of the screen until he appears. A well deserved homage to an "Euro Run-N-Gun" classic (although most of us in the west we knew him in Super Turrican). Hope we can see him in a new game one of these days. There's other hidden curioisities in the game like a rolling soccer ball, a spider and a helicopter as humorous "easter eggs" that might escape from our eyes as we concentrate on the action.

Towbar's back in the Euro-town!

This is what i call a Blast from the Past. If the game was already an Axelay clone, we've got a reference to the second boss of the game in Level 1.4, even you have to move to its back to destroy it with the Nordwest or switching any weapon to its back shot.

I prefer an anime styled girl like Ghana Freeman than a 3D girl yelling "Look!, I'm Arcee ¿Where's Hot Rod?"
Feel free to delete that CGI head out of your head after playing this game.

Gah! Just when i thought i had enough of criticizing character designs, it looks like I'll have to make fun of this once again (man, catch me a break please). So, by [unvoluntary] request of Duranik and B-Alive, here's another "Character Design Bashing" courtesy of your trusty shmup reviewer Sturmvogel Prime. Although its always good to have girls in a shooter, this game gets the point. Partially. It has a female character, but unlike the operator that pops out during your mission in the original game, the EX version replaces her with a shot of who i think is the ship's pilot (who looks more like a glamour shot of Arcee from The Transformers) with a very strange and somewhat disturbing look (blame the helmet and thank the designer for the idea).

¿It is too much to ask for an anime styled girl?. Once again, take a look at Ginga Force, and look it from the "Otaku perspective" please. Even an antagonist like Ghana Freeman is such a good example of a cute and sexy anime-like lady that you would want to see in the game's gallery doing a sexy hand on hip side-pose on the bed, beach or poolside showing some skin wearing a bikini (*In Shamrock's voice* Yeah, baby! *Plays "Saturday Night" by The Underdog Project*). Ya'know what I'm talking: Fanservice stuff that completes a videogame justifying its purchase and replay value. On the other side, Sturmwind EX's "Pilot" is an atrocity that makes you wanna wash your eyes on bleach or rubbing alcohol to delete that thing from your head for good. Maybe, a few years in the future we might be seeing a "Sturmwind EX Anime Girl Hack" that replaces the unnamed pilot with any anime character you like.

In the music department, the Euro-Techno is as great as it was on the 90's, 2000's and 2010's. With fast pacing beats and rhythms that go along with the action of the game, Stage 5.1 is perhaps the best one of the game, and also is nice to notices it shares similarities with Blazing Star and Raiden III, like if someone put the music of those games in the blender as we've got one good song after another to delight our ears.

As for the sound effects, looks like they used stock sounds for the explosions. Throughout the whole game you'll be hearing that "KH-WA-WOOO!!" explosion sound that was used in the 80's cartoons like The Transformers, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, but mostly on Centurions: Power Xtreme. You heard that basically everytime a Strafer or a Groundborg was blown out of existence. In this game you'll be hearing it more often than you've heard it in an episode of the Centurions.

The voice acting breaks with the common use of japanese or english voices. Thunder Force VI used Tangut and Mongolian, RayStorm had french lyrics in the PS Tanz Mix ending and now, Sturmwind EX follows that example by using german voices, making this game quite unique talking on a different language.

STURMWIND ÜBERSETZUNG (Sturmwind Translation)

Thanks for the advice, Trau.

Sturmwind - Whirlwind
Nordwest - Northwest
Rudel - Pack
Festengenagelt - Pinpoint
Gegenschlag - Backlash
Stahlgewitter - Steel Thunderstorm
Federstahl - Spring Steel
Wilde Kreaturen - Wild Creatures
Schweres Wasser - Heavy Water
Schneesturm - Blizzard
Wendepunkt - Turning Point
Der Letzte Countdown - The Last Countdown
Todestille - Dead Calm
Das Letzte Gefecht - The Last Battle
Donnerschlag - Thunderclap
Furchtlos - Fearless
Furchtloser Schatten - Fearless Shadow
Level 1.3 entschärft - Level 1.3 defused
Lichtblitz - Flash of light
Pionier - Pioneer
Scharfschütze - Sniper
Schützenfest - Marksmen
Schützenkönig - Rifle King
Sternenfeuer - Starfire
Stumme Herausforderung - Silent Challenge
Unbesiegbar - Invincible
Unsterblicher Jäger - Immortal Hunter
Weltenretter - World Savior

Sturmwind EX is "The Axelay of the New Generation" and the Axelay 2 Konami promised us and didn't brought us. It's good to know we have a spiritual successor of Konami's classic shmup and definitely a masterpiece of indie shooting despite the flaw of the Beam charge and its unorthodox power up system. Stil, it's one of those must haves on the XBOX One or the Switch.
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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