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 Post subject: NebulasRay by Namco (Arcade)
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 10:56 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Once again, it's time to talk about a good old arcade shmup. This time, NebulasRay by Namco.

Multi-layered Space Combat.
Redefining the shmup genera with gigantic steps.

In this mission, your Fighting Ray will not go unarmed. This ship has two available weapons, Your regular shot can be powered up 5 times by picking the same panel in a row.
WIDE SHOT (W): Your initial weapon, this is the Spread Shot of the game as it fires a curtain of bullets that provide some wide offense against frontal and lateral targets.
GAIN POWER (G): The "Laser" of the game. Fires a full frontal Gatling-like vulcan shot powerful than the Wide Shot, but useless against side targets.

Along with your main weapons, you're also provided Sub-Weapons to support you in the mission.
In NebulasRay, "F" is not to for pay respects, COD kids. Its for deliver a frontal 4-row shot that causes great damages.
HOMING LASER (H): Fires a Twin Laser shot that chases a random target.
LIGHTNING BURST (L): The Air-to-Ground weapon, very effective against ground targets.
DEFLECTOR (D): This is a Defensive item rather than a Sub-Weapon since it activates a circular shield protecting your ship from enemy fire. Well, most of them since "screen long" energy beams can pass through the shield and destroy your ship.

You're also provided with a Bomb which is the screen clearing weapon which explodes after reaching a certain distance or when it touches an enemy. You can pick a maximum of 7 bombs. There's also the Speed Up item that increases the ship's speed, up to level 5, which is its maximum, and last but not least the Bonus Item that brings you 3,000 points.

Welcome to the Jungle.
We've got fun and games.

NebulasRay is another addition to the list of "Raiden Clones", but unlike Mitchell's Double Wings which barely does something to hide that aspect, NebulasRay provides a few original features and a faster, yet more easy to adapt challenge as we have more weapons along with the Raiden-like basic "Spread" or "Frontal" fire. The Sub-Weapons really come in handy as they help us to withstand the enemy attacks, but there's only one problem: They're time limited. While this couldn't be a problem, there is one critical flaw: The time runs down even when they're not being used. This could be compromising when you don't have more ships left and you're fighting a boss.
Like in Raiden, you lose a life with one hit, so keep in mind the ship's fragility and concentrate on picking the Deflector (the "D" item) when the Sub-Weapon icon appears and shifts the letter as it stays on screen. There's rarely instance of unfair cheapness, except for the Asteroid stage where the enemy missiles can pass through the large undestructible boulders while your shots can't destroy them. Like in Fighter & Attacker, you can enter your name before the continue countdown, but if you continue as Player 1 you'll get the "point of shame". Fortunately you can dodge it by starting the game as Player 2 and repeat the trick when you've lose all your lives as Player 2 again. One final detail is that everytime you die a "FULL" item will appear to max out your ship's shots like in Thunder Dragon.

Battle Tested

At the end of each stage, you'll get a result screen just like in Raiden, where the Bonus Items you've got in the stage and remaining bombs grant you extra points, just like the Medals in Raiden. However, if you die during a stage you'll keep the Bonus Items.

Survival of the Fittest
Its you and what you've learned against the enemy.

Once you've finished the game and the Staff Roll is over, you'll be pitted in the Challenging Area. This time you have zero lives and no chance to continue if you die. Are you gonna die trying or you're too tough for hell to contain you? It's all up to you at this point.


Graphically, NebulasRay was born ahead of its time as we have these rendered CGI which were an innovation back then since they broke with the traditional use of 2D sprites, Also, the scenery moves along with the ship as if we were in a spherical 3D universe within the game, this is mostly noticed in the first stage. Along with the 3D view, the game utilizes the multi-layers to increase the sense of depth in the screen, something that Namco didn't used to take advantage of the Lightning Burst sub-weapon to intercept targets far on the distance, which was something that Taito took advantage on RayForce. It is kinda ironic that space stages use the visual effects better than the planetary surfaced stages. The opening cutscene looks very well made and the rendering is at the same level as Pulstar. So we can say the R-Type clone has met its match on graphics.

In sound department, Namco knows how to introduce the game as the silence of space is broken by loud explosion sounds as the NebulasRay logo is slammed on the screen. The voice samples sound from recognizeable to muffled, "Enemy attack forces approaching!", "Final check complete. All systems running.", "OK, increasing the maximum attack speed", "Enemy fighter approaching!", "Proceed to attack.", "OK", "Good luck" are some of the samples I've could understand. While the music quality is very CD-quality, I can't say the same for the voice samples that sound like the ones from Thunder Force II in terms of clarity. The soundtrack feels like the spiritual successor of Fighter & Attacker on Stage 1, the Challenging Area and the boss theme as it has some of the dance-like beat although the rap instances we're removed. The game changes that for a more fanfarrious pace in Stage 2, and Stage 3 is more of an "Ambient" like, contrasting with the frenetic asteroid belt themed stage, and makes a return to the upbeat ambient for the rest of the stages. The final boss theme feels like an "Ambient Mix" of Fighter & Attacker's musical style. Most of the voice samples repeat too much, "Warning!", "Target Lock", "OK, Proceed to attack" are the ones you'll hear the most and they will end up becoming almost as annoying as the "Bonus!" from Blazing Star.

- NebulasRay use of rendered graphics prevented Taito from use them on RayForce.
- The large battleships in stage 1 are called Reicheskonig, which means "Empire King" in german.
- One of the common enemies is called Fliegentritter, the german word for "Fly Killer".

Looks like the Fighting Ray had a role in the "Battle of Yavin".

NebulasRay was a revolutionary shmup that went where no Raiden Clone went before with its excellent graphics and multiple voices during gameplay. Unfortunately, it became one of Namco's forgotten titles along with Fighter & Attacker, Dragon Spirit, Gaplus and Galaxian.
As an arcade shooter, its definitely worth a try.
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Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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