MonkeyPaw Games has been releasing numerous PlayStation One import games onto the PlayStation Network, allowing new audiences to experience some of the foreign greats of yore. One such title is Rapid Angel, an action game with a lot of heart. With its many hidden intricacies and terrific cutscenes, Rapid Angel is one of the finest action games the PSN library has to offer.
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Rapid Angel is an interesting blend of genres, where platformer meets beat-‘em-up. As you saunter through each of the areas, you’ll encounter a variety of foes with equally diverse weaponry. Your character has numerous moves to work with: standard attack, special attack, block, double jump, dash, and dash attack. The screen only halts when combating a mini-boss, as opposed to stopping every time a group of baddies appear in similar games, which equals a lot more freedom. Freedom is a necessity since the platforming sections tend to span several screens or, in some cases, dominate the level.
If you would prefer a more fast-paced experience, I’ve noticed that you can speed through the levels and avoid the enemies as you focus on platforming. While some may feel that frantically running through levels would ruin the pace, it is surprisingly entertaining to attempt fast times in some of the earlier stages. Some may also consider the game to be a now-typical action title, but the real ingenuity in Rapid Angel is established after adapting to its style. Many beat-‘em-ups omit the ability to block or deter you from using special moves, but this title seems to be more reasonable than some of the classics. The number of minor details to be found in the characters is truly astounding, with one character in particular, Haruna, being notably intricate.
Also on offer is a two player mode that deviates from standard beat-‘em-ups. Instead of simply playing with two characters on the screen in usual co-op fashion, the second player plays a more unique role. As an invincible “angel”, the second player aids the primary player by shooting enemies and shielding. This is a more commonplace style of cooperative play in 2011, with variations of this system being featured in major titles like Super Mario Galaxy, but this was impressive for 1998.
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One thing to note is that you are not healed after completing an area, meaning that dying will inevitably result in a “Game Over”. However, this isn’t nearly as daunting is it sounds for several reasons. You are revived (complete with three special attacks) somewhere relatively close to where you died, so boss fights can become simpler through suicide prior to attempting them. In addition, falling into a bottomless pit does not kill your character, instead dealing some minimal damage. Rapid Angel is almost too lenient, but the low difficulty unquestionably makes it more alluring to those who are less competent at 2D sidescrollers.
The 14 stages on offer in Rapid Angel can be easily thwarted in around an hour, but this is one you’ll want to replay. There are three characters to pick from the get-go, each with their own unique attacks and special moves. Two more are unlockable after viewing the game’s “good ending”, so there’s definitely an incentive to keep playing beyond scores.
When not bashing foes, the player is treated to 2D anime-styled scenes featuring the game’s females. Anime humour is instantly apparent, complete with sweat drops. Despite the game’s age, the visuals still look clean, polished, and generally up to snuff. During certain segments before battles, there are occasionally context-sensitive options to select. Depending on your choices, scenes will play out differently. As your understanding and enjoyment of the story hinges upon your grasp of the Japanese language, those who are fluent will get the most out these scenes. It would have been pleasant to see subtitles, but this is an unaltered port as opposed to an enhanced edition.
|Running into my sword... how dumb is that?|
The sound department is a mixed bag. The tunes are fairly mellow and unremarkable, but the real thrill comes from the voice acting. The anime-styled voices and cutscenes help accentuate the personalities of each character, in addition to better portraying their emotions.
While Rapid Angel is 100 per cent playable for foreigners, the ideal audience would be one that can speak the game’s native language. Without knowledge of Japanese, the context-sensitive choice segments are a bit useless to English purists. In addition, the game’s storyline and the character personalities would be somewhat difficult to decipher. If you are unfamiliar with Japanese menus, you can read a translation here.
Rapid Angel is no longer quite as inventive as it was in its halcyon days, but it still remains a solid PlayStation sidescroller and offers a ton of fun. Only players fluent in Japanese will truly be able to appreciate the cinematic sequences, but at $US5.99, Rapid Angel definitely warrants a look.