Wednesday, 1 December 2010
R+R - Nin-Niki
This horizontal doujin shooter has only had a demo to play, which teased many X68000 fans for a good while, as the single level demonstrated a solid game with decent music. There was a video floating round showing off the rest of the game and a seller on Yahoo Japan Auctions was selling the full version, so I was looking forward to one day playing the entire game. That is until recently, when the full game turned up on the Tokugawa forums. Thanks to the user who shared it the full extent of the game can now be played. And there is good news: it is even better than the demo suggested. While the demo's stage only had one fairly bland monotonous background, the rest of the game's stages have much more variety. It needs to be mentioned the game is pad only, so if you don't have one you'll have to use Xpadder or similar.
R+R initially looks rather by-the-numbers, with two very standard weapons, switchable via a button – a straight shooting laser and a rapid fire spread vulcan type shot. However you also have access to a purple single shot that is activated by moving left/right or up/down quickly, and also when you upgrade. You don't need to be firing to utilise this shot. On upgrading: this is where the game differs from many other 16 bit horizontal shooters. Instead of collecting power up icons your main weapon increases in power through scoring; that is as you kill enemies a counter fills until a set number is reached (which increases with each level gained). When this happens your weapon is upgraded, and as previously mentioned, your ship lets out a purple shot. An interesting deviation from the norm, it means you really don't want to die in certain situations, such as when facing a boss. There is some scope for upgrading here though, as bosses always feature additional enemies - be it waves of popcorn enemies, or a couple of stronger ships. If faced with this situation you'll have to balance gaining levels with taking out smaller enemies. Enemies do usually have multiple parts to destroy, again providing more scope for upgrading. The game has a decent difficulty level, even stage one's enemies let out a relatively high proportion of firepower at you for a first stage. In the options menu you do get a choice between easy, medium and hard, though there isn't a massive amount of variation between them.. If you aren't the best player the game can be set to unlimited credits (extends), so you'll be able to practice in comfort. You will have to start from the beginning of the stage though.
There is a good amount of variety in the game, with only a few enemies repeated or re-coloured from level to level, and each of the five stages has its own theme. There is a desert, a standard asteroid shower level, a 'Dope space' stage (presumably they meant deep...there is a lot of amusing engrish in this game), a claustrophobic 'Techno Base' and a fairly short but hectic final level, named 'Last Tention'. Enemies consist of a mix of waves of popcorn enemies and larger foes that take a decent battering even from your laser. Some of these have a destructible part to them in addition to their main body. On occasion you will be hard pushed to destroy some of these larger ships before they fly off screen – enemies usually come thick and fast. Most stages have 'The vigorous attack' that comes about mid level and features more organised and unique formation(s), or a unique enemy, though in difficulty terms they're often similar to the rest of the level.
As previously mentioned R+R's demo featured a nicely detailed, if somewhat monotonous, background and subsequent levels in the full version mostly improve upon this. There is plenty of parallax scrolling too, some stages with several layers. Scenery often becomes a feature of the game, for example stage 4 is maze like, with enemies attempting to shunt you into dead-ends and narrow passages. Animation is excellent when it comes to enemies - their engines glow, ships turn, rotate and many have firing animations with various parts of them moving. There is relatively little animation on the backgrounds, though stage 4's boss does have blinking lights behind him. My only issue with the graphics is that sometimes enemies will briefly disappear while other enemy ships explosions pass over them
Sound is generally excellent throughout. It features some great music that is typical of the X68000, with many memorable tunes, with stage four's being my favorite. The synth lines in particular stand out. Each tune fits in well with its particular stage's setting. Each boss shares the same music, which is good, though a little variety would have made the music aspect of the game perfect. There is a nice loading track too, though it isn't on for long. Sound effects do the job well enough, though perhaps a few more could have been done for the enemy explosions.
R+R's options menu features the difficulty settings as previously mentioned, in addition to number of lives (0-5) and amount of extends (i.e. credits; none, three, five and unlimited). I'd have liked a music and sound test option though. Menus are entirely in English too.
All in all R+R is well worth the search you may have to do to find it. It might be a tad bit short, but there is a decent challenge. While the demo was fairly hard to find it is still the most widely available, so the Tokugawa forums are the place to go to for the full version. I have spotted it on another forum near the top of search results for the game, so it is spreading at least. If you are having difficulty, message me and I'm sure I'll be able to help you.