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 Post subject: Rigid Force Alpha / Redux (PC - XBOX One - Nintendo Switch)
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:28 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
R-Type Final 2 is now the latest delayed shmup, along with Strikers 2020, Aleste Branch and the PS4 releases of Ginga Force and Natsuki Chronicles.
With these anticipated shmups gone Missing In Action, we have no other choice but to rely on the shmup made by independent developers, better known as "Indie shmups".
For the luck of the R-Typers, there's an indie alternative: Rigid Force Alpha on the PC and its latest release Rigid Force Redux on the XBOX One and Nintendo Switch.

Calling all R-Typers: An indie alternative has been found!

com8com1 comes to the rescue with this alternative to IREM's legendary shooter, which offers a variety of weapons that most R-Typers would be familiarized with.

While your initial weapon is a simple machine gun styled shot, you'll have to switch it by picking one of the three available weapons.
LASER (Blue): The full frontal rapid Vulcan-like shot. Its Charged Shot fires a frontal laser fire that lasts depending on how much the gauge was filled.
SPREAD SHOT (Orange): Fires a wide-ranged 8-Way vulcan fire. Unleashes a width-varying 9-way stream of beams as its Charged Shot.
REBOUND (Green): The "Bouncing beam", nods the Reflective Laser (blue weapon) from R-Type, It fires laser shots that bounce on walls and ceilings. Its Charged Shot fires a rapid 4 way stream of bullets in the style of Hell-Hound's "Deathflame" and Peplos "Holy Flare" from Blazing Star. Some of the Charged bullets bounce back, increasing the chances of hitting more enemies.

Like in R-Type you also have sub-weapons, in this game they're called Side Armaments.
HOMING MISSILE (Brown "Shots with Sight"): The basic homing missile that aims on enemies.
SEEKER MISSILE (Green "Boomerangs"): Fires missiles vertically, but they'll go horizontal on either left or right direction once they find a target.
GROUND MISSILE (Blue "diagonal missile"): Fires 5 bombs in a descending diagonal direction like the Missile in Gradius acting more like a conventional bomb. This weapon is useful against ground targets.

The gameplay is basically a clone of R-Type as your ship features the use of a Force as its main weapon. Like other clones such as the Voyager from Pulstar, the Force in Rigid Force Alpha/Redux has a different functionality than the one from IREM's shooter. To begin with, you have to pick Force Shards to assemble the whole thing, it only needs four of them. Also, each Force Shard adds more firepower to the ship. Something that you'll notice is the lack of the "Bits" (or "Io"s if you've played Pulstar). This is because the Force is also the Bits at the same time, you can switch between frontal Force to Frontal Aiming Shards covering the top and bottom of your ship, Rear Aiming Shards and finally the Force behind your ship without the need of detaching it.
Like in R-Type and Pulstar, you are granted with the ability of using a Charge Shot, but in this case, you have to fuel it up before using it. To do this you have to pick energy orbs dropped by destroyed enemies. This is exactly the same principle of the Newalone in Metal Black and the CRAW Macromolecule Assist in Thunder Force VI. Also, the Charge Shot can be used as a controlled blast rather than the common bomb/Charge Shot format just like the Over Weapon in Thunder Force V. While the released orbs are floating waiting for you to pick them, you can use the "Absorb" button to absorb all the nearby orbs to your ship. It will slow your ship down but it will accelerate the gauge charging. It is also useful as a speed down button if you want to navigate through tight spots.
For a final sub-weapon, the game gives you an original defensive weapon: The Bullet Blade. This is a very short ranged sword that destroys bullets which makes it a good idea as a defensive tool, but the only inconvenient is its reduced range which implies the bullet has to be way too close to the ship to destroy it.

Extreme difficulty is basically the DNA and soul of R-Type, and apparently, com8com1 wanted to make this game a little bit more fair than IREM (and Aicom as well) by removing the checkpoint start back after dying, only limiting it for the continues and adding Hit Points to your ship. Having 3HP per life is good enough for a game of this genre, but you can adjust the number of HP by switching the difficulty. Selecting a higher difficulty will reduce the number of starting hit points and continues. Easy will grant you 3 Hit points and 3 credits, Normal will be 2, and Hard reaches the level of unfair idiocy with 1HP and 1 continue unless you are crazy enough to say "is meant for the Veteran R-Type player". Like Super Mario Bros. 1 is the zero of the game. If you lose a ship when the stock is 1 you'll be on the Game Over screen.

Playing the game frequently will grant you an extra credit for the "Main Mission". You can get an extra one by playing on any game mode (I think certain periods of time also count just like in Thunder Force V Perfect System, but I'm not 100% sure).

Score Hunt, Astronaut Catching, and Bomb Blasting

This game features two additional modes: Arcade and Boss Rush. Arcade is different from the original game since you only play the stage prior to the boss fight. To make it different from the "Main Mission", the game adds additional objectives like rescuing "Units" which are astronauts scattered throughout the stage and destroying Bombs. Rescuing an astronaut is exactly the same process as in Sky Force/Sky Force Reloaded: Get close to him, wait until a circular gauge fills completely or else it won't be saved. The game utilizes the energy orbs not just to fill the Charge Shot, but also to fill a Multiplier gauge which you can fill over and over again it until it hits X128. Like in most shooters, the Multipliers increase the score obtained from destroyed enemies. You can play a stage on any difficulty. The highest rank is A which is a gold medal. You can unlock a new stage for this mode after completing one on the regular game, also known as "Main Mission".
Boss Rush doesn't require too much of an explanation since this mode pits you in a battle against the game's bosses (explaining why Arcade omitted that part of the stage). To unlock this mode you have to complete the game.

Achievements are also viewable rewards too!

The XBOX One/Switch exclusive Achievements section isn't just a checklist to see what achievements you've got left, they're also the image gallery of the game, each one features artworks, while the 99% of them are CGI from the game, only "Welcome Aboard!" features 2D artwork. Unlike Otomedius Excellent or Thunder Force V Perfect System, you can't zoom in or out.

Looks like someone forgot to turn on the lights.

The graphics of this game are sometimes dark and that's a negative impact on a game that aims for super detailing just like Sturmwind does. In Sturmwind/Sturmwind EX, the lighting was a key player in the detailing of the game as we were able to appreciate the amazing amount of details in the scenery and both your ship and enemies. In Rigid Force Alpha and Rigid Force Redux, the game deprives us from that most of the times. Take Stages 1 and 2 for example, the vessels in the background look more like shadows, there's very few lighted parts in the background and only you can see the "basic" things of the stage like the ceiling and floor layouts, making the game lifeless, until you reach the "Planetary" stages ike Stage 3 "Caverns of Vurgos". The boss battle in Stage 2 is another unnecessary dark room, since boss fights are one of the parts of the game's graphics where detailing is essential. I know R-Type is a dark shooter, but that's only on the game's lore, not on the graphics.
While the artificial structures look very well detailed, the organic ones lack of that, making them look like Gamecube or PlayStation 2 renders. The most notorious example is Botagorae in Stage 3, which looks like it came out of Luigi's Mansion. Only in Stage 1 we can see the artificial structures (station and spaceships in the background) looking less detailed like early XBOX/PS2 games, but things get better once you reach the boss fight.

R-Type III: The Third Lightning 2.0

As an "R-Type Clone, the game doesn't bother to hide its nature as a clone unlike Pulstar and Rezon did, starting off with the ship, the Rigid Force Alpha which looks like a mixture between the R-9W Wiseman and the R-9WZ Disaster report from R-Type Final. Speaking of R-Type references, the first boss rips off Guard Ray, the first boss from R-Type III: The Third Lightning, and Project Behemoth is basically Gomander from R-Type.

Exelica and Crueltear are not gonna be happy with this.

First ripping off R-Type, Thunder Force VI, Metal Black and now Rigid Force nods Triggerheart Exelica?, because Vermis sounds like Ver'mith. In fact, Vermis (along with Varmith, Varmis and Vamis) is one of the alternate "unofficial" pronunciations of the enemies of C.H.I.L.D.A. and the Triggerhearts as far as I know. Although Vermis is pronunced "Berumisu" (ベルミス) instead of "Vāmisu" (ヴァーミス). Yeah, this game has Japanese dub, which I'll talk about later. Not to mention Vurgos sounds like Vulgus, I guess the game also nods Capcom.

Jumping worm in the snow. Now I know why it was so familiar to me.

R-Type, Thunder Force VI, Metal Black, Triggerheart Exelica, Vulgus and now Contra. This game is a shooter with a little bit of everything 'cos Creeo Base has a worm-slug enemy that tries to ambush you from under the snow, just like the worm from the first stage of Contra: Shattered Soldier.

Somewhere in the universe they made a "Big Core Redraw Challenge" meme on Twitter and this came up to existence.

The shmup references seems to keep going, now we have a Big Core ripped off from the Gradius series, up to the Tetran-like tentacles, and explodes in the same way as the bosses of Gradius V.

Don't think that this is the end, player.
I will haunt you to the day you die......

Holy Deconstructed Cacodemons, Batman!
Bring me the Chaingun please, 'cos that aberration is simply unbearable for the human eyes to see! By the way, that horrified Shinji Ikari screaming you just heard was probably you.
That disembodied head won't get around a bashing critic. While the game aims to realistic graphics just like Sturmwind did, the AI interface Psye looks like they're trying to make a mix between Aelita from Code Lyoko and Cortana from Halo, but the result is an atrocious CGI nightmare that will haunt your mind for weeks. It ranks up with the "Glamour Shot of Arcee" pilot from Sturmwind EX as the kind of stuff YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE in a shooter. It was too difficult to use the anime style?, I'm not asking for fanservice, just an anime-like girl rather than this atrocity of a disembodied head. One small and simple detail can say a lot of the game, and this is one nightmare of an example.

I feel sorry for those who have the PC Alpha version 'cos they'll have to see that abomination everytime they play this game. You can try rubbing your eyes with anything; water, bleach, rubbing alcohol, nothing would work. It's the kind of stuff that marks a permanent scar in your brain for the rest of your life just like Sine Mora EX and Straimium Immortaly.
Those are the only "Safe For Work" words I have to say about Psye. If you're oh-so-curious to know all the "Not Safe For Work" words I have to say about Psye, grab a rusty nail of 3cm of diameter, a hammer and a wooden plank and nail your hand to the plank. Write down the expletives you say.

All those shmuppers prayers were heard and Psye was redone.

Looks like com8com1 made a miracle in front of our eyes. The XBOX One and Switch Redux version gets rid of that disturbing monstrosity and redesigned Psye using the much better looking anime style which this time really made wonders in this game. Also, she looks more animated than her Rigid Force Alpha counterpart, making the character and the whole game look complete and perfect.
The artist deserves a medal and a beer for the redesign 'cos this is what we can call a perfect example of "Turning coal into diamonds".

The music of this game is very impressive. Starting off with opening song which left me with a "Whoa!, ¿Is this a DiC cartoon?" expression 'cos it has that 80's vibe reminiscent of shows like M.A.S.K., The Real Ghostbusters (when the incidental music is not Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters theme) and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors because it feels like if Shuki Levy and Haim Saban composed it. The game soundtrack has a "Synthwave" style music reminiscent of the Eurythmics, specially of their hit song "Sweet Dreams", as the whole music has notes that reminds me of said song. There's traces of Robert Miles and Jean-Michel Jarre influences in other levels like Stage 4 or the "Reprise" of the intro theme in Stage 6 which breaks completely with the flat-out space beat of R-Type and the anime-like music score soundtrack of Pulstar. The boss battles change the Synthwave for something a little different like (Stage 3 for example), making them sound like a light version of Contra: Shattered Soldier's soundtrack.

As for the voice acting, the AI system Psye is multilingual as we heard her in the opening saying "Welcome captain. Rigid Force Alpha ready for deployment." The game has the voice dialogues in English as the default option, but you can change it to either German or Japanese. While hearing an Western-styled character talking on English is very common, hearing it in German makes her sound unique just like the voice samples in Sturmwind, but it will sound familiar for European players. However, watching an western-like character speaking Japanese feels like I'm watching a dub because unlike the english dubbed anime, American-European animations with japanese dubs are very rare.
In contrast, on the Rigid Force Redux port we have the new anime-styled Psye talking in English which feels common and very familiar for both American and European players due to how common English anime dubs are, but for an American gamers and anime fans feels quite rare hearing her talking in German since German dubbed anime is another rare thing to find, but from my perspective at least is what Sturmwind EX should be, and last but not least, the Japanese audio, selecting this one completes the anime experience of the game. This is what I can call "Two sides of a coin".

- The ending phrase "See you next mission!" at the end of the credits is a reference to Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion and Metroid Zero Mission.
- The name of the "Maximum Danger, Minimum Fear" comes from the quote "The point of maximum danger is the point of minimal fear".
- The achievement name "Gotta catch'em all!" is a reference to Pokemon's tagline.
- "Shoot the CORE" is a nod to the famous quote from the Gradius series.
- The arcade numbering for the multiplier "x2 to x128" is the same of Blazing Star when an enemy is destroyed by a Charged Shot.
- The artist who made the Redux version of Psye was the manga artist Damurushi, known for the bird-themed sim date Hatoful Boyfriend and the manga Absolute ZERO.
- com8com1's reasons for changing Psye's look was because they felt that the original design didn’t really fit the overall style of the game anymore, and they also wanted to achieve a more likeable overall look, and from what we can see, they succeeded.
- Psye's new design is based on the player's ship.

Rigid Force Alpha and Rigid Force Redux are an excellent take on the R-Type styled shooting without the tedious difficulty this game and clones like Pulstar and Rezon are famous/infamous for, making this game a more fun and enjoyable R-Typing shootout.
If you're an R-Typer you'll be happy with this game in your shmup collection, as it will fill the void of some R-Typing while you're still waiting for R-Type Final 2.
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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