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 Post subject: RayForce / GunLock (Arcade - Sega Saturn - PC - Android)
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 8:15 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 334
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
¿What's fast and is hitting your local arcade with advanced precision?

After the disgust from reviewing that trash shooter that was Task Force Kampas, how about if I bring you a review of a Taito classic?, RayForce will be a good one.

Arcade action that pushes the limits.

Ah, the good old RayForce (or Gunlock if you played its american release), the game itself is a groundbreaker as it redefines all what you knew of traditional shooting. Since the game utilizes an innovative feature: Lock On Laser against surface and far-into-the-background targets. While its functionality might remind of the Missile Lock-On of After Burner II and Galaxy Force II, it is the first time it was used on vertical scroll shooters, and Taito really exploited this new feature perfectly, relying on visual tricks to simulate random distancing from the player ship, and not only that, making the Lock-On Laser as the Score-maker factor of the game as it generates chains by destroying multiple locked on enemies. Also, you can make high score by focusing 3 Laser Locks on a "strong" enemy and the rest on weaker enemies increasing the multiplier much further, making the Laser Lock the perfect scoring strategy maker.

Powering up your ship has a twist in this game: First, your regular shots can be powered up by picking red and yellow crystals. 2 Red Crystals increases 1 level, while 1 Yellow Crystal is all what it takes to level up. To increase the amount of Laser Locks you have to pick green Laser Panels. These ones are the essential item of the game, even more than the Power Up Crystals due to the mentioned high-scoring capabilities.

The overall difficulty of this game has a curve that quicly escalates as you progress in this game. Once you've reach Giga (Stage 3 Boss), the game will throw more and more bullet formations and patterns. Speaking of bosses, the behavior of some of their attacks makes them unpredictable, like Odin's case in Stage 5. His purple "Thunder Lasers" take random angles, greatly increasing its chances of hitting you. Another advantage for the enemy is your lack of a shield to protect your ship, just like in Metal Black, making RayForce an exercise of manuevering and tactical shooting for expert shooting pilots.

But the worst problem with the game is that the Laser Lock is limited to 4 when its played in simultaneous Co-Op, disabling the Laser Lock upgrades and reducing the score making factor of the game drastically, rendering the co-op challenge to almost basic and unfun, not to mention more difficult due to the lack of additional firepower.

OK, Mr. G.P.M.S.-2, ¿Do you wanna get blasted apart or take a long fall to the under-underground?.
It's your choice.

Boss battles also take the advantage of the Laser Lock feature, sometimes you can decide if you want to destroy the boss by Locking on its center or destroy the "claws" supporting the boss like the 4th stage boss. Very few instances you can use the regular laser against bosses more often than the Laser Lock, like Dual Lance (Stage 1) and Odin (Stage 5).

0630 Hours = 2 RVA-818 X-LAYs took off from the USS Ellen Baker. Both passed the Lunar Perimeter at 0800.
0940 Hours = X-LAYs entered Earth's atmosphere, shot down Giga at 1050.
1130 Hours = X-LAYs were shot down somewhere between the surface and Ex-Mantle-Outer Core boundary.

When you die and decide not to continue the game, you'll get a "Mission Diagram" showing how far you went from being launched right up to the point where you got killed.

Mission expense of what?

Well, winning in this game is as bad as losing the game, 'cos in the ending, you die anyway! Since the final battle with Dark Con-Human takes place on the former Inner Core of the Earth, there is no turning back after destroying its mechanical heart as the explosion takes the whole Earth with it. As a result the X-LAY is caught in the global blast, but fortunately, it is heavily damaged.
Sadly, there's no hope of survival for the pilot. With the cockpit ripped apart, and her helmet wasn't made for Extravehicular purposes, she's still death-sentenced already. If the Earth blowing up in her face didn't killed our beloved protagonist with the heat of the blast and the deafening sound, and the subsequent shockwave, the void of space would finish the job by suffering a fast decompression combined with the freezing temperatures and lack of air from the vacuum of space because the canopy was ripped away from the cockpit.

To put it simple, they sent the pilot to a suicide mission since she had no chances of escape in time since nothing can escape from a 16,360km range (6,360km depth + 10,000km of Earth's atmosphere) within seconds.

This reminds me of Thunder Blade.

Graphically, the game manages to pull 3D effects without relying too much on sprite-scaling, but on micro-sprites to simulate far on to the screen distancing between your ship and them giving the impression of multiple layers rather than a simple one with very small objects. In Stage 5, the game pulls the same visual trick from the vertical segments of Thunder Blade of stacking tiles to make it look like tall buildings, and also utilizes multi-layers on different instances, the best of all is once again in Stage 5 where you make this highway pursuit against tanks before entering the tunnel where Odin is waiting for your challenge. The tunnel effect when you fight him is very rail shooter-esque in the purest style of Steel Gunner. Speed is also a key factor during boss battles, like with Dark Con-Human's fight where the background moves to the sides at high speeds, breaking with the traditional straight forward corridor movement.
Sprite scaling is used in this game but not with too much frecuency, and is only utilized on some small visual effects like the atmospheric entry, tunnels and the switch between game and cockpit during the game ending, but still, RayForce manages to pull visual spectacles ahead of its time.

The music of this game is Taito Magic in motion, as the game delivers a non-stop upbeat sequence of rhythm and speed, starting off with the "Push 1 or 2 Player button" beat. The game later adds electronic beeps adding a more technological nature to the disco dance-like beat in the later stages. Stage 3 takes a turn of the pace as it sounds more like an ambient-like beat. Even the first boss battle themes have a dance rhythm until the game slowly changes the pace to a more techno-suspense in the style of a futuristic thriller as you unfold the mystery of Con-Human.

- The name of the second boss, Girasol is the spanish name of the Sunflower, the first sub-boss is called "Armor Scale"
- Poseidon, the stage 2 sub-boss (the moon battleship) is named after one of the Twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religion and myth, God of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses.
- The third stage sub-boss, Asura hence its name after the class of beings or power-seeking clans related to the more benevolent Devas (also known as Suras) in Hinduism.
- Giga, the third boss is named after the unit prefix in the metric system denoting a factor of a (short-form) billion (1,000,000,000).
- The name of the fourth stage boss G.P.M.S.-2 seems to be an acronym, but Taito didn't mention what stands for.
- Odin, the fifth boss is named after the God from the Germanic/Norse mythology. Odin is associated with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victory, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and portrays him as the husband of the goddess Frigg.
- The stage six sub-boss "Phalanx" hence its name from the Greek rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar pole weapons. The term is particularly (and originally) used to describe the use of this formation in Ancient Greek warfare.
- The sixth boss, Dynamo, is named after the electrical generators that creates direct current using a commutator.
- The staff credits theme "Q.E.P.D." is an acronym for "Que En Paz Descanse", which is a Spanish prayer for the dead which means "May Rest In Peace".
- While RayForce is the first game made of the Ray-series, it is the third on the continuity: RayStorm>RayCrisis>RayForce.
- For a single game, it has a lot of other names due to localization and copyright issues: Galactic Attack, Layer Section and Gunlock.
- The dustcloud generated by Poseidon when it arrives and crashes was recycled from Metal Black, and later re-utilized in Darius Gaiden: Silver Hawk.
- Taito considered the idea of using pre-rendered CG, but Namco's NebulasRay already employed the idea to the anger of Hideyuki Katou, leading the game to use 2D graphics.
- The X-LAY will reappear in two more Taito shooters: RayStorm HD and Dariusburst CS Chronicle Saviors.
- The unnamed X-LAY pilot is very similar to the female pilot from the PC Engine port of Volfied, who is also unnamed.
- Dark Con-Human's plot element of remaking the Earth with its technology was later utilized by Tecno Soft in Thunder Force V where Khaos Ascendant (possesing the Guardian) tried to destroy Earth and rebuild it with Vasteel Technology.

- Dark Con-Human's idea of remaking the whole interior of the Earth sends all the laws of geophysics by a tube as the Inner Core generates the magnetic field which protects the atmosphere. Without it, the solar wind would take Earth's atmosphere away, and water would not be able to keep its liquid form. This is what made Mars a lifeless rock.


Earth and Secilia had vanished.
Likewise, those that developed the "RAY" technology and all evidence of its existence have been wiped away.
No record of R-GRAY craft ever existing was found and no R-GRAY craft has ever returned.

If you've played the PlayStation exclusive Neu Tanz Mix with the 13 Ship Order option, you'll get this epilogue after the damaged R-Gray arrives on the Moon and it heads to a dust cloud where Earth was supposed to be. This situation can be explained with a little knowledge of astrophysics and the lore within the Ray-series continuity. When the R-Gray used the "Gravity Catapult", it took from August 5 to August 6 to make the journey from Earth to Secilia, to make the 1 day journey possible, this implies the R-Gray was launched with a speed even faster than light.

¿How does the speed of light will explain this?, the key explanation lies on Einstein's Relativity Theory.
Time runs slower when a ship flies to the speed of light, this means if a Space Shuttle takes 60 years to travel across the Milky Way galaxy and back, it would have passed 4 million years on Earth when the Shuttle crew returns.

In RayStorm's scenario, while the Earth-Secilia journey took a day to complete, the events of RayCrisis were taking place, and during the journey back (another 24 hours), the events of RayForce occured, as a result, the R-Gray would return to the cosmic debris of Earth. The game epilogue also implies that it was also the end of the human race as they eventually died out despite trying to survive in space stations and the R-Gray pilot didn't make it back due to the damaged ship.

Also, for the ship's computer and the R-Gray pilot the time would be August 6, 2219 (arrival on Secilia) and August 8 0:13AM at the end of his mission unaware for them that several years passed by due to the FTL (Faster Than Light) travel.

The unsung heroine of this game.
If only she knew her mission would be a suicidal one, she'd rather picked another assigment.

In the end, RayForce is an Audiovisual Spectacle that features intense shooting action that will be the fun-factor of die-hard aces who want a challenge without being cryptic or unfair.
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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