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 Post subject: Hovership Havoc (XBOX One - PC)
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:45 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 298
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Time to keep reviewing more of these modern shmups. This time is Hovership Havoc.

The game doesn't feature too many game modes, only "PLAY", "SETTINGS" and "CREDITS".As soon as you begin the game, you're given the option of picking one of the four Hoverships.

Prepare for Extermination!

DEVASTATOR: Not to be confused with the Constructicon behemoth from the Transformers franchise or that 3rd person arcade shooter from Konami. The Devastator is a Balance-Power Mix type Hovership with a slight focus on speed, spread and damage. With a short rate of fire and range, it is more of a choice for an intermediate-expert player as it combines speed an power, requiring a technical minded gamer to exploit its full potential.
The Devastator's main weapon is a short-ranged shotgun that inflicts a very considerable amount of damage (9 points of damage), but each shot generates around 30% of weapon heating, so you can't fool around firing at nothing.

The fast close-ranged fighter!

PLASMA GATLING: The Rapid Fire type. This ship is a heavy machine gun with wings as it combines the maximum fire rate with high speed (not as fast as Devastator) and a considerably high spread fire level, all of these sacrifying the levels of damage and rate, making this the ship of experts who wants a challenge from this game.
Its main weapon is a short ranged vulcan that fires very erratically and with an extremely short range requiring to be very close to your enemies to inflict the maximum damage possible since a single bullet delivers 5 points of damage to the enemy. Also, here's a catch: It overheats extremely fast.

Hey! hey! It's alright. Dancin' in the Laser Light!

LASER BLASTER: The All-Rounder Balanced type ship with average levels of speed, shot rate, range and speed. Despite its slight weak damage below the other average levels, Laser Blaster is the ideal choice of starters who are new in this game.
A three way spread shot is the main weapon of the Laser Blaster, the basic stuff to take 3 enemies at once, each bullet causes 6 points of damage, and is the least heat generating weapon of the game.

You can't have pulse without an impulse!

PULSE CANNON: The Power type ship. With extremely high levels of damage and range despite its low levels of speed, shot rate and spread, this ship is like a hovering tank ready to pummel the enemy.
The main weapon of the Pulse Cannon is a straight shot powerful enough to destroy the "popcorn" enemies with one shot as it causes 12 points of damage. However, this ship is also another major heat generator at the point of firing 23 shots non-stop before overheating.

Into the arena we climb, We look to the sky
Into the arena we climb, You and I.

The game itself is a top-down arena shooter where the main objective is to survive the constant assault of robots in the several rooms of the level. To advance from one room to another you'll have to destroy the Power Cells located there, but they can only be destroyed once they're activated, and that's gonna happen until all of the enemies have been dropped on the stage, so you don't have to destroy all of them, but it's better to take all of them down, because they drop "Gears" which act as currency to upgrade your ship (I'll explain this later).
For an arena shooter, this game tries a light attempt at procedural generation, but using a random order of preset layouts, and i say preset because in the levels you'll see the same layout once or twice, so you can rely on memorization even if the rooms are thrown on a random order.
With these features that enhance what it looks like a simple game, the game suffers from two flaws which ruins the gameplay. The first one is the worst: Weapon Overheating. Yeah, it's one of those shmups where your basic weapon overheats rendering it useless for a short period of time. But in this game, they made Overheating much worse as the heat gauge increases when your Hovership is damaged by a bullet or a collision. Something fatal for the Devastator and Pulse Cannon. The second flaw is that you only have one life, one single life and it's Game Over, sending you back at the beginning of the game.
One of the strangest things is how crappy your "Dash" is, your Speed Burst is actually a very small push that doesn't help too much.

Some of these weapons come really in handy if you know how to use them.

Throughout your mission you'll find abilities that act as your secondary weapons. Some of them are offensive like the Sky Beam or the Missile, and others are defensive like instant cooldown and shields. You can use any of them by using the bumper buttons LB and RB. The only problem that i have is that if you pick your first upgrades and you try to cancel by pressing B, the game will FORCE YOU TO PICK THEM as it will appear on your sub-weapon indicator, this only happen when they're the first two Abilities, after that you will be able to refuse that unconvinient weapon.
Also, using all of the offensive and defensive abilities is a must to unlock their achievements.

Goin' "All Range Mode", Only for boss fights.

This game features boss battles. Unlike the rest of the stages, the boss levels are played in a 3rd person view where you can aim the Hovership's sight, but it has its problems: you can't see who's behind you, resulting in cheap shots that will damage you or even kill you. So, the priority here is concentrate all damage on the boss.

Like Nintendo used to say "Now you're playing with power".

In your mission, you'll be able to buy things with the gears you've obtained by killing enemies, During your gameplay, you can buy Temporary Upgrades, while in the Loadout screen you can buy Permanent ones (which is more convenient than the in-between stages). This is where you can improve an array of things like the firing range (bullet distance), hit points, damage (weapon strength), and the best part: Cooldown, which reduces the overheating at the point of being unexistant when it reaches 7/10, improving this one comes really in handy and makes the game more playable. It's good to know that despite this nasty flaw, the game manages to give us a fix (Learn from that, Konami!).

You died in Stage 2-2?, No worries. You've unlocked its Stage 2-1 checkpoint.
It's better than starting from 1-1. Now go back and give them hell.

The major issue of having one life before getting Game Over is slightly addressed with the Level Select feature which is unlocked once you reach Stage 2-1 and 3-1, granting you a better chance of trying again and make more progress.
But, here's a catch: The Level Select feature only works for the ship you're using, That means if you've reached 3-1 with Devastator, only Devastator can select a stage, if you want to reach Stage 3-1 with Laser Blaster, you'll have to play all the way from the beginning with that Hovership.

"Death by misadventure, a case of overkill."
- Ted Nugent

The ending is not just lackluster, but stupid. As it turns out that after destroying the Core Boss, your Hovership blows up, killing you for no discernible reason. BLAM!, no explanation, or even sense to justify your death.
Sadly, this game falls in the list of the biggest letdowns in shmup history. NES endings were more rewarding than this. The hard level ending of R-Type Complete CD and Triggerheart Exelica's Arrange Mode post-credits ending have been dethroned by an indie shooter.

Curb your Shmup-tusiasm

If the "epilogue" doesn't explain a damn thing, the following is another crap-display as the game sends you to the credits.
Heck, two or so hours of your time down the drain.

Another money sacrifice to add to the Gamerscore total if you ask me.

That's what this game turns out to be as the game's achievements, at least the majority of them are way too easy like Reaching Level 5 with the four Hoverships, level 15 with one of them, defeating a boss with 70% and even less than 7% of energy, using all of the abilities and even get killed by a boss.
Two of the challenges have the idea of "Tough but fair" challenge, and that's "Boss Untouchable" (Defeating a boss without getting hit once) and "gg 2 ez" (Clear levels 1-1, 1-2 and Machine Boss without buying temporary or permanent upgrades), but the challenge becomes harder than we expect due to the Overheating, and this is the perfect example of how a game condition like the weapon overheating only makes a challenge worse.

How do you call this?, A Techno-Factory.

Graphically, the game's factory scenery implies the use of a combination of dark colors to give the impression of a tense, mysterious atmosphere, specially in the first two levels. Something that i've noticed is the use of an "hexagonal" comb pattern blended in the surface, making them look technologically advanced, combined with a modern factory scenario and futuristic sci-fi corridors that the game will throw you.
The enemy design feels Tron-influenced as they're black with color linings in the style of Tron Legacy, only the first two bosses are mechanical while the last one is a Tron-esque wall with a HAL-2000 ripoff for its core.

Meet the UNSC Spartan Edward-1219, who was sent on a deadly mission against the Covenant-hacked droids.

The game gives you a glimpse of the pilot of your hovership. Which, in a twist of fate, resembles a Spartan from the Halo franchise. It doesn't have a name of his/her own, so it goes on the "Performed by you!" category just like the R-9 Pilot in Super R-Type's credits.

Disco-Laser Party. In Hovership Havoc, they're serving rockets, warhead rockets.

The music of this game aims to the techno-industrial style of electronic music at least on the great majority of the soundtrack, 'cos there's one instance where the game pulls a retro 90's trance style with a slight hint of dance, 'cos one of the songs sounds like if someone put the Eurythmics song "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" with P. Lion's "Happy Children" (1:01 of this video) in a "techno mix" blender. I swear that since most of the notes are extremely similar to those songs. The music of "The Facility Core" (Stage 3-1) is simply a killer song. It's a shame that the game doesn't have a sound test on the settings option,
A thing to mention is that the buzzing noise of your Hovership will become tedious after half an hour. Fortunately, the music is loud enough to block it without blocking the laser fire and explosions of the game.

In any case, lemme suggest you a playlist for this game.

- Real McCoy - "Run Away"
- Blue System - "Dr. Mabuse"
- Eurythmics - "Sweet Dreams"
(or its cover by Swing)
- P. Lion - "Happy Children"
- Stop - "Wake Up"
- Latin Lover - "Laser Light"
- Lime - "We're gonna love tonight"
- People Like Us - "Midnight Lover"
- Real McCoy - "Another Night (U.S. House Mix)"
(Ideal when you need to take a break)

- The walking robots that appear later in the game resemble the ED-209 from RoboCop.

Overall, we've got a game with the potential to keep you and your friends busy while trying to reach the end of the game, with a killer soundtrack and solid gameplay, but it fails on the execution due to the screw ups the final product has. The overheating that only makes weapon firing worse than Contra Rogue Corps and its lackluster ending that makes all your efforts not worthy, resulting in a Gamescore milker that wants your money for a few points.

Natsuki, I also have the same question about this game.
What a way to ruin a shmup with a lot of potential.
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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