I am really not very good at scrolling shooters – the old retro games such as Xevious are challenging, and you can forget about modern bullet hell shooters. As such, I really don’t need a 3D effect confusing me further. Turning the 3D off leaves me with a retro scrolling shooter that is quite overpriced at $Aus9 – so either way I struggle to see value in this game.
|Screenshot from the NES port. The 3DS game looks better, but sprites are tiny|
The 3D effect in the game works well – too well. Essentially, it separates the game into two ‘planes’ of action – the air, where your tiny little airplane will be shooting down enemy ships and weird little floating discs, and then there’s stuff on the ground that you’ll need to bomb as well. These behave almost independently with the 3D effect turned on, which is a nice visual touch that helps you feel like you’re playing across two platforms, rather than a static, flat image.
The problem is that the bullets being fired on you by the numerous enemies are tiny, and with the 3D effect turned on, it’s difficult to concentrate on one plane of the action without tuning out the fine details of the other. If you think of it as having two movies running side by side – it’s hard to pick out specific details of one while taking in everything that’s happening on the other. That means those tiny enemy bullets can, and will, kill you before you see them coming, simply because you’re busy focusing on other stuff.
My eyes perceive 3D pretty well, and this is the first game that has made me uncomfortable to have it on. Turning it off results in a perfectly playable game and does away with that frustrating ‘addition’ to the formula, but it’s still a workmanlike port of a workmanlike game.
There’s a distinct lack of inspiration in this game now – if you can even see the tiny enemy sprites they are as generic as the genre has seen since. Floating discs and boxy tanks and planes don’t exactly inspire excitement, and compared to some of the other games out there on the market now, Xevious positive plods along.
|Floating discs. Most terrifying enemies ever|
There’s some skill required in getting high scores, and the bosses (uninspired as they are) can be reasonably difficult. The game is also good enough to save your top scores, but it’s difficult to care about those scores. And people who can get through the likes of Bangai-O will be put to sleep by this level of action (and difficulty).
It’s also worth highlighting the music, which is bad enough to make my ears bleed. There are good retro arcade music soundtracks, and bad ones. This is the latter.
It’s amazing that this game is the second 3D classic remake to hit the 3DS and the first one that wasn’t initially free. It’s not a good start. Whilst the game is serviceable the 3D is unnecessary, even distracting, and there are far, far better retro games that could have set this service up with a bang.
As it is, Nintendo’s straying dangerously close to encouraging disinterest in 3D classics.