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 Post subject: Lethal Judgment EX Extended Edition (XBOX One - PC)
PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:34 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 301
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
It's good to be back with XBOX shmupping. I hope.

Time to hit the XBOX One once again. This time is Lethal Judgment EX Extended Edition.

Looks like someone didn't made the PC to Console Transition right...

Sugiura Base, we have a problem. For some reason, in the Conditions and Terms of use screen of the XBOX One port, the game asks you to "Press Space or Fire" to continue rather than pressing "A" or "Menu", the same when you clear a stage as the game says "Press ESC or B to continue" as if we're playing a PC game rather than a console one.
Errors are also common in the game, in Stage 4 the game tags it as "Stage 1 Saturn's Rings on Fire". Fortunately, these are minimal graphic errors that doesn't compromise the gameplay.

Just five levels, and the Earth is mirror-flipped. Now Arabia is the Middle West.

To begin with, this game is pretty short since it only has five levels, Clearing one stage will unlock it so you can start in a different stage rather than going all the way back to the beginning.

Even Jim Power's Dark Corridor stage was more brighter than this.

The gameplay is your basic "textbook" horizontal shooter, as it uses very basic mechanics to keep the game going on. Along with the Powering up feature, you can also use two sub-weapons, the "M", which is the Missile which randomly goes from diagonally up or down, and the "O" which is a spinning beam that damages everything in a 360° range, but this one is temporary. As you power up your ship you'll get rotating satellites similary to the Claw's from Thunder Force or the XA-1's pods from E.D.F.: Earth Defense Force. Like most shooters, you have a bomb, but instead of having a default stock of bombs, you have to charge it in order to use it.

The Bomb has three levels of power. Depending on which power level is fired, its effects will vary kinda like in 19XX The War Against Destiny.
LEVEL 1: Fires a large Wave Shot-like blast.
LEVEL 2: Fires a spinning 4-way lightning bolt discharge.
LEVEL 3: Fires an expanding circular burst of flames

To improve the gameplay further, the game focuses on making combos, just like Blazing Star does, but all the multiplier fun goes all the way down due to the following flaws.

This game has a lot of problems when it comes to the gameplay. To begin with, the XBOX One port only supports the analog stick, instead of allowing the player to choose if he/she wants to use the D-pad or the Analog Stick just like Triggerheart Exelica or any of the ACA Neogeo shmups, but the lack of compatibility is going to be the last of our problems in this horizontal scrolled shooter.

Powering up becomes a life or death priority because the popcorn enemies take more than one level 1 hit to go down, even the Asteroid Belt in Stage 1 is already a problem because the rocks take two or three hits to go down. If you're not in level 2 or 3 you're already in trouble, which you'll be most of the times in this game. But guess what? Powering up is a problem since the game, trying to follow the power up mechanic of the first Darius, it requires to pick a lot of power ups to level up. To be exact, you're gonna need 10 Power up items to level up, three more than Darius. But what makes things worse is that unlike Darius where your weapon gradually increased its strength based on how full was the Power up bar, in Lethal Judgment EX you'll still keep the weak firepower until it finally levels up. Once you've leveled up, you've better stay away from any collisions because if your ship is hit by a bullet, ship or missile your hard-gained level drops down and you'll lose the Missile Sub-weapon. For some idiotic reason, you can't pick items during the brief moment of afterhit invincibility, making power recovery an almost impossible task to do since the items and the money will pass through your ship as some sort of unorthodox punishment.

Speaking of losing things, this is one of those indie shooters where you only have one life to survive the whole game. If you die once, it's Game Over. Fortunately you can select the stage you've died since you unlock stages by clearing them. Another stance of "Challenge gone wrong" is when the game throws you enemies from behind. Since you don't have a back shot, you have to dodge them. For a game that wants you to rack high scores, this is a fatal blow. For a final stupid move of the game, when you start the next stage you'll be downgraded all the way back to level 1!. I can understand the idea of starting with low power if I pick one of the later stages rather than starting from Stage 1, ¿but this? this is completely stupid and unfair since it will put you in total disadvantage as the enemies take too much hits to go down, Stage 4 can go to hell because of this.

UPDATE June 2, 2020: There's gonna be an update that will fix the power down issue after getting hit and adds the D-pad support. It'd probably be included this weekend.
This first update won't fix the power loss after completing a stage, but fixing two major issues such as these make wonders on the gameplay and makes things a little more fair.

UPDATE June 11, 2020: The game now received a second update. This time the amount of power ups required to level up was reduced from 10 to 7 just like in Darius, and now you can pick items while you have the after-hit invincibility, making a recovery more possible and the overall game more playable. The second update changes the background of "City of Angels" from being red scaled to a more morning light-like tone, which is the same used on the Speed Run 2 mini-game and corrects the stage name on-screen when the level is played.

UPDATE June 15, 2020: Third update was released. It adds a selectable difficulty mode during the stage select screen where we can select if we want to play on Normal or Easy. It partially addresses the power loss, and I say partially because the after hit power loss is only removed when the game is played on Easy.

The #451023 entry on the "A WINNER IS YOU!" category. ¿Aren't you glad?

After all the troubles, you've expect one good or at least a decent ending, right? Unfortunately, this game doesn't have an ending after the final battle. Just the credits and "THANKS FOR PLAYING!". No crowd claiming you as their hero, no military commander congratulating you for a job well done, no nothing.

For some reason, this game lacks of achievements on the XBOX One port despite having awards, but I guess this game was a lackluster of achievements 'cos they're only 8: Stages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Destroy 1000 enemies, Destroy 5000 enemies, and play for an hour. Yep, it'd be another Gamerscore Milker, but failed on that either.

Morgul's Mini-Game Store. In sale, the games that nobody wants!

Extra Contents is the in-game shop. Unlike U.N. Squadron or Ginga Force where you can buy ships, upgrades and weapons, Lethal Judgment EX only offers one thing: Mini-games. You can also give 100 credits to Morgul, so this Pixar reject can have a beer. He will thank you for the beer, but he will also say you're not winning his friendship. Well, that's fine for me, since it's not an anime girl, I give two [Expletive]s about Morgul.

Combine small sized ship with narrow passages and a lot of asteroids and you'll get a lot of trouble.

JUKEBOX (10,000 Credits): The Sound Test of the game, you can hear the game soundtrack.
ALTERNATIVE INTRO (15,000 Credits): Unlocks a second opening sequence for the game.
ASTEROIDS ATTACK (20,000 Credits): Mini-game where you have to survive 10 waves of asteroids in a narrow passage.
SPEED RUN (25,000 Credits): Mini-game where you have to destroy enemies to make the checkpoint advance to you.
VERTICAL LIMIT 1 (30,000 Credits): Space Invaders clone with 10 waves of enemies.
VERTICAL LIMIT 2 (35,000 Credits): The same, but this time are 15 Waves.
ASTEROIDS ATTACK 2 (40,000 Credits): Same as the first Asteroids Attack, but in a different scene and with asteroids coming from behind.
SPEED RUN 2 (45,000 Credits): Same as Speed Run, just in an alternate colored version of Stage 4
VERTICAL LIMIT 3 (50,000 Credits): Same as the previous Vertical Limit, now adds enemies from the sides and its 20 waves long.
CHECK THE FLAG (60,000 Credits): Fly through green and blue beams to stop time from running, red takes time away. Basically, the Superman 64 of shmups.
VERTICAL LIMIT FINAL (70,000 Credits): Same as the previous three Vertical Limit games, much more difficult and is 25 waves long.

The store's function is to add unlockable mini-games in order to increase the replay value of the game. Unfortunately, they're less entertaining that the original game itself. Asteroids Attack is a 10 wave survival mode where you have to survive wave after wave after wave of asteroids. Sounds fun, but the game puts you in a narrow tunnel with irregular surfaces and reduces the size of your ship. combine that with the Power Down problem of the normal game and you have this almost unplayable mess. Check the Flag is a boring fly through checkpoints to win 1 second of time. If you like Superman 64's "fly through rings" you're gonna like this one. Speed Run is perhaps the most original and fun of all since you have to destroy enemies to make the screen scroll until you reach the checkpoint before time hits zero. Since you can power up, you can use that advantage on your favor and you can repeat the mini-game again and again until you get money to buy other mini-games.

One final detail: If you uninstall and re-install the game in the XBOX One, it will delete your progress. All your Awards and unlocked mini-games from Morgul's shop will had to be unlocked again.

The Ultimate Battle: You VS The Overpixelated Ducker Rip-off.

Level Variants is what can best be described as the Arrange Mode of this game as this mode features even more difficult versions of the original stages. If you enjoy being tortured by this game, then you'll like this mode. By the way, beating the last stage in this mode doesn't show an ending, not even the crappy staff roll. Making the whole mode worthless.

Seems like Plan 9 From Outer Space is quite popular in the future.

Graphically, this game aims to the super-realistic scenery just like Sturmwind EX did. But this can be hardly appreciated due to the use of dark tones, the whole game is an example, being Stages 1 to 3 the worst, everything is almost black you can't appreciate the architecture or the scenery. There is some flaws in the game's graphics; Earth appears mirror flipped (Africa's Horn and Arabian Peninsula are now to the left) and some enemies are "overpixelated" (The sub-boss in Stage 5 and the Stage 3 boss).

Neo Contra in Contemporary Art Mode?

The bosses are reminiscent of the sculpture nature of Rabio Lepus, blended with the repulsive alien look of the Contra games, mostly Neo Contra and Contra Rogue Corps. This can be noticed in the bosses of Stage 1 and 2. The third boss is a little less creative since its a robotic spider (No, it's not Megaman X's Bospider again). The creativity goes all the way down the Bydo gutter as the fourth boss is a generic R-Type-esque worm that would fit better on R-Type or X-Multiply. But the worst was kept for the last, since the final boss is not a huge computer or a mutant embryo or a giant battleship, just take a look below.

You have been commanded to send Zeus to the grave and restore order to the Universe.

Wish I was kidding, but this is the final boss of this game, a statue of Zeus that shoots lightning bolts, and the only way to defeat him is to have a level 3 bomb and your weapon maxed out, 'cos it's lightning attack is almost unavoidable and you'll go down from level 6 to 4 with a few hits. The only way not to get hit by Zeus cheap attack is to go down to the bottom of the screen. Even the ORN Emperor from Thunder Force VI was more fun (and original) than this.

There's always something familiar in videogames nowadays.

Looks like there is some place for deja vu's in shmups. City of Angels reminds me of the planetary surface of the Federation stage from Thunder Force VI. Not to mention, both are Stage 4 in their respective games.

The music is a little bit of everything. Since Stages 1, 2, 4 and 5 uses the oh-so-common Synthwave-Ambient mix in pure Kraftwerk style, Stage 3 slows things down adding symphonical elements, boss fights feature a more Metal-like style, but it feels generic and dull, making it forgettable.

- The constellations depicted on the background of the Conditions and Terms of Use screen is Centaurus and Lupus from the year 1603.
- You're gonna need 400,000 credits to buy everything in Morgul's Online Space Shop.
- The TV screens from Stage 4 shows a scene from the trailer of Plan 9 From Outer Space featuring Vampyra (Maila Nurmi) and the "Man in the Moon" scene from the 1902 film Le Voyage dans la Lune.
- The name "City of Angels" is a reference to both the 1996 film The Crow: City of Angels and the 1998 drama/fantasy film City of Angels.
- "Vertical Limit" is reference to the 2000's survival thriller movie of the same name.
- "Total Carnage" is a reference to the quote "Total Carnage! I'll like it!" from Smash TV and the arcade game Total Carnage.

This game had potential, but they dropped the ball on many aspects or simply, they didn't care about the game. While in the PC might look like another cheap shooter from the bunch, it feels like demo in the XBOX One version due to the mentioned flaws during the gameplay and its lack of achievements.
To put it simple, I'd rather play Natsuki Chronicles and Thunder Force VI than this. Lethal Judgment EX makes me wish I want those 2 or 3 hours of my life back.
That Plan 9 From Outer Space reference in Stage 4 makes sense since this game is the Plan 9 From Outer Space of Shmups: A total trainwreck and one stupid move after another. So, avoid this game at all costs.

Even for a broken down mess, Lethal Judgment EX Extended Edition is actually an educational game since it is the perfect example of HOW NOT TO MAKE A SHMUP.
Not to mention, the patience for idiocy has its limits.

TO DAVID FOUREL: Dude, you REALLY need got to go back and do some serious re-work to this game, because the Power Down issues, the way too much power up items to level up, and starting the next level weakened back to level 1 makes the game unfairly difficult. What you've did is not challenge, try to learn from Blazing Star or Thunder Force V instead.

UPDATE II June 02, 2020: Thanks Dave for let the Facebook Shmups group know there's gonna be an update to fix the problems.
UPDATE III June 11, 2020: Those first two updates really help to compensate the gameplay, now it only needs to fix the Power Down after taking a hit and that's it.
UPDATE IV June 15, 2020: Dude, you've got the idea, but after hit power loss should be removed on any difficulty, not just easy. Try to base Normal difficulty on enemy number and strength rather than putting handicaps on the player.
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Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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