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 Post subject: Black Paradox (XB1 - PS4 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 11:03 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 593
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Time to hit the "Highway to the Danger Zone" of indie shmups. Today's review: Black Paradox.

Space shootout with all the power of the 80s.

Black Paradox is a retro-themed horizontal shooter where you take control of the Star Phoenix in a wild, wild ride across the universe, protecting it against the evil Quantum Black and his Hellraiser family in 7 thrilling combat zones.
While your ship runs to the battle with a fast-firing pea shooter, the game features 20 devastating weapons, but it drops one random weapon on each level which you can pick. From Lasers to 5 way shots and slow but powerful grenades and the musical madness of the Moroder, you can equip two of them and alternate them just like in Contra III: The Alien Wars, allowing good combinations when the situation requires it like a boss fight where you'll probably need a powerful weapon, and a fast firing one for the level as the game throws a large number at you.
Like in U.N. Squadron, this game focuses on money grinding, but on a more extreme level, because you need to rack large amounts of money for your upgrades and buying slots for add extra equipment to your ship.

You don't need a Silver Hawk for use a Fixed Burst.

Like in Dariusburst, the game utilizes a Fixed Burst-like weapon called Black Paradox, which provides the ship with some extra support with a random weapon.

Sometimes deciding could be a troble, this is one example of it.

Like in Steredenn, you are given the option of picking one of two upgrades, some of them can give you Drones to provide you additional firepower or upgrades for your ship like increasing the Speed, Attack (Power), Health and Attack Speed (Fire Rate).

If the Space-Time Anomaly takes you to Saidaioujou, consider yourself dead.

Every few once in a while, a black hole will replace the second item. If you enter the black hole, you'll be warped to a special stage.
According to Fantastico Studio, this happens every 25% of your playthroughs, but chances increases with further plays. So you can gear up if you're not sure if you're gonna make it through the stage.

Stand up against myself.

The special stage is a boss fight with the Black Paradox, your "Fixed Burst" weapon. This might be a tough fight, so it's recommended to have some good Health and Attack chips equipped before entering the level because summoning Black Paradox is disabled during the battle.
If you defeat the Black Paradox, you can pick one of two special upgrades exclusive to the level.

McCoy's Storehouse - Street Punk Edition.

Remember the comparison with U.N. Squadron when I've mentioned the money grinding? Well, this is another factor. Garage is the shop of the game where you can buy upgrades for your ship as "Chips". You can also buy extra slots for the Star Phoenix for a total of 30,000 Credits. Fantastico had the idea with the store, but it made a few fatal flaws. Flaw 1; there's no variety of chips, just two available and you have to shuffle if you want to buy something else, and that leads to Flaw 2: Shuffle takes money, the more times you shuffle, it'll be more expensive. ¿What in the flying [EXPLETIVE] is that? pricing the shuffling only compromises the potential buy. Flaw 3: Prices can be way too high, while the low level chips have a reasonable price, they climb to absurdely high prices ($43,000 for a level 13 chip), making the whole game an exercise of money grinding since the enemies normally give you around 12 or 20 Credits.

Things that rhyme with "Garage": I know, "Storage".

Storage is where you can put any chips you're not using, and you'll be storing things 'cos this game will require to make the adjustments to maximize any of the four factors of the ship. Unfortunately, like the Garage, Storage has even worse flaws. Flaw 4: Limited capacity. The Storage can only store 9 chips, once its full you are forced to discard a chip when you want to buy one. Any game with an inventory (Mass Effect, CrossCode, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) has a huge inventory that allows you to carry massive amounts of items and sometimes you can finish a game without filling the inventory, this is something that the staff of Black Paradox forgot when they made this game. Flaw 5: Store without "Sell" option. Something as simple as having the option of selling unwanted chips would solve not just the discarding problem, but also help with the money grinding issue.

Fantastic bullet patterns that look like a spectacle.

Difficulty is the heart of the challenge factor for any game, and bullet patterns play a key factor on it. While at first they resemble simple, easy to dodge patterns, all of a sudden they become intrincated patterns and spinning sprays with small room to pass through them. They're not Strikers 1945 III or Touhou Project levels of difficulty, but underestimating them could result in death. Also, most of your enemies have these Metal Slug-like rotating cannons, removing the possibility of blind spots and increasing their possibilities of hitting you, makin the game even more challenging for experts and difficult for average shmuppers. The relation Hit-Damage is somewhat random and sometimes exaggerated as a bullet can take 2 of your hit points and beams up to 4 or more, in a boss fight, this could result on instant death, and dying in this game is not a funny experience.

Unlike Kyle Busch's 2017 Daytona whinery, the Star Phoenix's demise wasn't Goodyear's fault.

The room for error in this game is in the "No-Room" category as the game sends you with no extra lives and what's worse, no continues if you die. This isn't "Git gud" as "Kewl" hipsters would say, we're talking the game designers idea of fun is to pull frustrating, downright unfair difficulty, not to mention, Upgrade Chips are expensive and with a dysfunctional Garage-Shop-Inventory it's all about pulling matters of luck to win this game.


You've gave up?, Here's the ending for you: The "A Winner is you" like ending saying the galaxy is a safer place (Make it a safer plaaaaace...For yooooouuuuu and for meeeee and the entire human race), nothing short of poetry, while the credits roll, you can move your ship and shoot the asteroids or you can skip all that by pressing the Menu button.

Continue the fight, for the war is not yet over.

¿Can we say "One day, peace will return again"? All of a sudden the congratulatory words get a question mark, saying the saga will continue. "Is Black Paradox 2 on the way?" not exactly, the game continues in a second mode called Darkness.

The dark side of the force.

Darkness, unlike the main game, is a boss rush where you'll be facing tougher versions of the game's bosses. Along with the additional health, some of them might have new attack patterns, making the fight more difficult than before. There's no enemies to fight on each stage, so the game slightly increases the bounty reward for each boss. Like in the regular game, there's no continues if you die, and the only purpose of this mode is to get an achievement for killing a total of 10 bosses. The ending in this mode can best be described like this: "Have you seen the ending in Solo mode?, then you've saw the Darkness ending already!" and I mean it 'cos is the same thing: "You made the galaxy a safer place", then the exclamation mark appears and the message "The Saga Continues" appears, making this ending a sequel threat since there's no more modes to unlock.

Trakker's gonna lead the mission.
And Spectrum's got such Super-Vision!
M-M-M-MASK! Is the mighty power that can save the day!

Graphically, the game relies on 16-bit pixel art that feels like a cross between the arcade, the Sega Genesis and the brightness of the Master System, as the enemy sprites are well made, yet featuring a bright colorful palette. While most of the game is in space, there's stages where you fly on the clouds of alien worlds like in the 4th stage. As a nod to the 80's, the Fantastico Studio logo appears with a chrome effect color with the classic glowing border effect proper of the 80's cartoons like SilverHawks. In addition to the 80's nostalgia, there's a VHS effect that adds more chromatic distortion to make it look like an old video, but without injuring your eyes like Null Drifter did.

As an 80's themed game, one thing that can't be missed is the flying cars, and the Star Phoenix is precisely that, a flying car that borrows elements from the Thunderhawk from M.A.S.K. and the DeLorean from Back to the Future, you can notice that on the fact that uses a Mr. Flux-like device for an engine and the tires folded for flight like Doc Brown's machine while the doors are open as wings like the Thunderhawk.

Hacker's dumb cousins.

The character design aims to a more western style and I'm gonna make an exception this time since we're talking about a homage to the 80's. Back then, anime didn't had the influence and popularity it has today. The characters look like if they're influenced by the mid-80's cartoons of Sunbow/Marvel Productions (The Transformers, G.I. Joe), DiC (M.A.S.K., Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors), Ruby-Spears (Centurions, Lazer Tag Academy) and Rankin-Bass/Lorimar Telepictures (ThunderCats, SilverHawks, TigerSharks), which is an interest re-take on the good old american animation after all these years of drawing in the style of today's atrocities from Cartoon Network & Nicktoons.

To close the tribute to the 80's this game is, the music features a synthwave soundtrack that evokes the John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream style, giving the game a feeling of retrofuturism and fantasy with the electronic percussion beats that fill the game with retro nostalgia, breaking with the modern techno and orchestrations common nowadays.



- The weapon description "Cross the streams" from the Helix weapon is a reference to Ghostbusters.
- Moroder's musical notes firing is a pun on Melodia's Sound Smasher weapon from SilverHawks.
- For an 80's themed shmup, the Tesla weapon's phrase "Gotta Zap'em All" nods the 90's, Pokemon's "Gotta Catch'em All!" tagline to be exact.
- The upgrade Primal Rage is a reference to the 1994 dinosaur themed fighting game of the same name.
- "Fury Road" and the achievement description is a reference to Mad Max and the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road.
- Another "Out of the 80's" reference can be found in the Darts Punk weapon which nods Daft Punk and the song "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger".
- "This town ain't big enough for the both of us" is a song by Sparks.
- The achievement name "Extinction" and its description are a reference to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
- For an anthropomorphic theropod/Velociraptor, Reaper's ship resembles a Stegosaurus.
- "Cosmosaur" means "Space Lizard".
- The weapon Moroder is a reference to Giorgio Moroder, who composed some of the 80's movie themes like the soundtrack of Scarface, Electric Dreams, Top Gun, the song "Reach Out" for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and the 2013 song "Giorgio by Moroder" in Daft Punk's Random Access Memories album.

This game is a good idea that crashes with the harsh reality due to a few wrong decisions of the designers. As a tribute to the 80's is very well made and accurate to the style of the decade, but the overall difficulty and store mechanics kills the game.
If you like your shmups to be "Like an angel with no sense of mercy" then rise young boy, to the Black Paradox like a legend. For anyone else, this game is another shooter to avoid unless you want to know what absurdes on difficulty are.

No need to explain why the "Lea Scale" is like that.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup and video game reviews with humorous criticism.

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

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