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 Post subject: Back to Belt (XBOX One / Series X|S Compatible)
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 9:22 am 


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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 359
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
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Enemies and troubles are easy to find when the world is this small.

Here we go again with more indie shmups, this one is quite unique due to its retro-styled influences. I'm talking about Back to Belt.



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Finding your way around the universe.

Before starting the game, you have to select the sector you want to begin with, this will imply to move the ship with the Right Trigger to activate the thrusters and move the ship to the indicated sector.



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Asteroids III: Big Trouble in Little Planet.

Back to Belt shares similarities with Asteroids on its core gameplay, as the controls are basically the same, the analog stick rotates your ship, while the Right Trigger is the thruster that moves your ship in a specific direction. There's also the shield that lasts for a while as long as you hold the shield button and obviously the fire button. For your luck, there's energy pick ups that recharge your shield if it runs out. Unlike Asteroids where you had the whole screen as an arena, the game puts you in a small sphere pretty much like in Geometry Wars 3 Dimensions. Since you're moving on the sphere's circumference, the enemies can hide on the opposite side and can be quite problematic to find them since there's no arrows, radar or indicators to hint you about their position.



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The game says "That was a Perfect Play".

After clearing a stage, your performance will be evaluated by four basic characteristics: Time spent on the stage, Shot accuracy (Aim), Shield usage and number of deaths, being a perfect aiming quick killer will send you to a bonus stage.



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On the eighth stage, there's a boss fight.

Every 8th level you'll be facing a boss which will require to destroy his defenses (asteroids, UFO's or all at once) before taking it down. Sometimes you can destroy it before all of his defenses and enemies are down, when this happens, all the enemies will be destroyed automatically.



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Asteroids, Blasteroids.
Taking aim is gonna be difficult with my ship spinning like crazy.


Everytime you get a perfect score you'll be sent to a bonus stage where the objective is to destroy the asteroids while the ship is spinning uncontrollably, requiring almost perfect aim. After clearing the first sectors you'll unlock this minigame as a selectable stage. As the after-stage you'll get 3 lives for destroying the asteroids, while in the unlockable stage, you'll get one per level until you lose. Also, in the unlockable stage variant, the number of asteroids will increase, but you'll still have two misses, making the room for error very small and prone to fail after level 7.
There's a second minigame that involves finding an UFO in a hidden asteroid in the style of the "Shell Game" ("Donde quedó la bolita?" in spanish speaking countries), where guessing also grants you extra lives and is unlockable as a selectable stage. All these minigames are very useful to farm extra lives which you'll be requiring them in the later levels and I'll explain you why in a moment.



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Flip over any two cards and see if they match.
You can only miss twice!


There's a third bonus level which is unlocked with game progression: The Memory Match game, this one is very similar to the memory game from Super Mario Bros 3. and it has the same mechanics: You can only miss twice and you can get power ups and extra lives on each correct guess. This is the only mini game where you can select the difficulty level (from 4 to 20 cards) and get more than just 1ups. Also, the only way to exit this stage is by comitting deliberate failure missing the two chances. Unlike Super Mario Bros. 3, if you fail on the large numbered stages, you'll have to start all over which only adds frustration 'cos there's no "continue where you've left off" like in SMB3, that's the only detail Mauricio Felippe forgot when he made this minigame. After all, playing the different difficulty levels only serves to unlock achievements.



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Graphic description of "Game throwing stupid moves on you".

Remember when I said the bonus levels are more useful for gaining lives and power ups?, This is the reason why, the later sectors are just a display of stupidity-based difficulty as the enemies will be a cluster of ships and UFOs crammed together, and what makes things worse. Your ship's fire rate is of 3 bullets, this will result in the enemies overpowering and outnumbering you 90% of the times. Although there's power ups, these aren't "Power" at all. What they really do is to increase your ship's fire rate adding one more bullet allowing you to shoot more bullets on screen (3 to 4) before pausing to resume firing, the only problem is that if you get hit with your ship maxed up (7 bullets) you'll go all the way down to power level 1. During boss fights, is almost ragequit, since the boss 99% of the times will dodge the bullet since your shots aren't fast enough and it requires to get your ship very, very close to the boss if you want to deliver a sure hit. Also, losing all of your lives means Game Over and no continues, so you have select the sector where you've left off after farming 1ups and Power ups again. Keep in mind, you'll be facing 64 stages in this game. So, if you are not in the mood to deal with stupidly long bad shmups, then play something else.



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Redefining the title "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast".

This is the final boss of the game, a starfighter called "Space Ghost" which will pull a fight after losing its shield by throwing the Core boss and asteroids, along with the making invisible trickery in a battle where you'll end up losing more lives than in the regular boss fights.



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You...son...of...a...

After defeating the Space Ghost on Stage 64, the game will display this bad ending to "encourage" you to play in the now unlocked Sector X which leads to the true ending of this game and making the 64 stages long game climb up to 72. Ironically, Sector X is much easier than the rest of the game 'cos the new weapon you'll get is more powerful and is quite wider than the regular bullets. Even if in some levels you'll be enemy-spammed, you'll end up clearing the stage with a margin of 0-2 lives lost.

Have you pulled the plug on the game before reaching Sector X?, Well here's the true ending for you.


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Oh, oh. We're in trouble. Something's come along and its burst our bubble, yeah, yeah.
Oh, oh. We're in trobule. Gotta Get Home, quick march on The Double!


After defeating the Space Ghost once again, your ship is surrounded by 8 Space Ghosts, making escape virtually impossible for your ship and apparently leading to its demise like in Reflex's ending.
However, hope is not lost at all...



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Do the hero escape when you're trapped.

... realizing you can go up or down in space, your ship makes a vertical escape, saving itself from its impending destruction.
The Space Ghost(s) stay there to lose another day. After this, the staff roll will play, and you'll get a small after-credits surprise.



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The "Avengers Initiative" from 2021's bad shmups?.

So, this game is planning to come back. Oh, dear God, no.


Graphically, it aims to the nostalgia factor and makes it an accomplishment as it utilizes vectorial graphics like in the old arcade games of the 80's, and adds more color like Atari's Star Wars game, and even the style of the fonts is Atari-accurate, although the decision of using a Geometry Wars 3-like spheric world was more of a twist.

The sound is basically an ode to Atari's Asteroids as the "notes" used share a reminiscence to Atari's classic arcade shooter, which is another positive aspect of the game. In a twist of novelty over nostalgia, they included voice samples in the game.


BACK TO CURIOSITIES
- The 1up sound is a piano rendition of the 1up sound from Super Mario Bros.
- The memory game nods the bonus levels from Super Mario Bros. 3.
- The UFO exclamation sound in the Hide and Seek bonus game is a clear reference to Metal Gear Solid.
- Another Metal Gear Solid reference can be found. The achievement "Snake is afraid" nods Solid Snake.
- The Sector 8 ending is makes a reference to the bad ending of Ghosts N' Goblins.


Unless you're into vintage shooting and you don't mind if the game pulls stupid moves against you, forcing you to get power ups and 1ups constantly, then pick it. Otherwise, stay with the genuine Asteroids on Atari Flashback Classics (both Arcade and 2600 ports) .



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The "Lea Scale" is not on the positives again.
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Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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