Battle Bakraid - 8ing - 1999

Battle Bakraid
8ing - Arcade - 1999

Reviewed by Malc

I have to start this review with massive kudos to mikeb, good shmupping friend of mine who practically forced me to re-appraise my initial poor opinion of Battle Bakraid. At first I thought, blehh, its Garegga again with shiny graphics, and the short and initially uninteresting first level did nothing for me at all.

So, thanks to mike I got me a pcb, and proceeded to fall in love. I've probably spent more time playing Bakraid than any other shmup I have, and it's a rare week when it's not been installed in the cab at least once.

Also to answer a possible question I might have shortly, Yes, I might rate some games less than 10/10 in the future. I can't help it though, Bakraid is extremely fine!

Don't approach this game as the sequel to Battle Garegga. Bakraid has much more in common with Batrider than Garegga, including the tickle laser, the easier medalling, and the style of play including lots of bullet patterns and attacks. The game modes and ship styles also echo this similarity, and if you are coming straight from a Garegga blast you will have to adjust your play style quite a bit.

Graphically, it's a change from Garegga too, much cleaner, brighter graphics, with none of those horrid skinny hard to see dull bullets. Some people say "oooh, you can see which way the are pointing" but as any foo knows, the human eye follows movement rather than shape when dealing with avoidance. For me, this is a very good thing, as I still continue to die stupidly in Garegga, I don't care what anyone says, pink fluorescent blobs are easier to see.

Soundwise, it's pretty much the same, less industrial though musically - some really catchy pumping rocky tunage which suits the game extremely well and helps maintain the interest and pace. I've caught myself humming them loads of times shopping or something.

It's also a very friendly game for beginners. Like Batrider, theres a training mode in which it helps you by bombing automatically if you are about to die, but only gives you a few levels. Master this (or skip it entirely) and try Normal mode, 6 levels with things getting a bit harder. I've managed to complete normal mode a few times, its not that hard, and its very satisfying for once being able to complete a shmup these days! Advanced mode is the meat and potatoes though, with 8 levels and the difficulty ramped up, mostly by everything getting fiercer, and some bosses having enhanced attacks.

Firepower is another great strength of Bakraid - there are 9 ships to choose from (assuming they are all unlocked) and have a variety of different attacks/speeds to suit anyone. Some of them I find extremely useless - like the clumsy 4th ship which is too fast for me, or the slowest ships - creating a lot of difficulty if you want to catch medals. All ships have main and secondary shots, upgradeable by grabbing various icons, with multiples to collect which work in the same way as Garegga - these have a preset range of configurations, as well as a few secret ones too.

Bombs - a staple of every shmup - are collectable by grabbing lots of little tokens which award you a new bomb once you reach certain amount - every ship has the same bomb type - and bombs are launchable - hold down the bomb button and let it travel upscreen to plant it in the best spot. Nice technique similar to Raiden Fighters games, as well as providing total invincibility for as long as they last, even if you are not in the explosion vicinity.

At risk too of sounding like a new found Medal Fanboy, for me, Bakraid is all about getting massive runs of fullsize medals, sometimes spanning several levels. Collecting the yellow medals onscreen properly will result in their values getting larger, as well as their size - by the time you max out there will be huge golden crests floating down, and it gets really tense diving between bullets on apparently suicidal medal swoops.

Medalling isn't the only mechanism though - experts should be prepared to also try chaining lots of mid sized enemy kills together to increase the multiplier rate - this together with great medal runs can give you massive scores and lots of extend lives. I'm rubbish at it though.

Add a second player, and expect to have an amazing dual blast through some very exciting levels, stealing powerups and medals from each other and creating some healthy unfriendly angst. Personally though, I prefer to shmup alone if I'm going for medals and scores!

With so many hidden secrets, adjustments, and features like the simple to learn yet hard to master medalling system, on top of an utterly superb military themed shmup - Bakraid has almost Unlimited Replayability.

10/10 - Yes, I think its even BETTER than Garegga.


To please all the numpties who rate shmups by how many modes it has, Bakraid offers Training (a very easy few levels which autobomb for you), Normal - which is 6 levels of restrained mayhem, and Advanced, THE mode you want to play. It has proper difficulty, ( I've beaten Normal three times) and an extra 2 levels glued onto the end. Very Batrider you think? yup. Oh, and Boss only mode, forgot about that.



Not. Honestly, if you saw this in the arcade, a dodgy brown font with a bulletholed breezeblock in the background, would YOU want to play it. The attract sequence is nothing special either, definitely not up to the standard I was expecting. 30 minutes, a copy of photoshop and a gibbon could make a better one.


Now, don't judge a book by its first level, I nearly did, and almost dismissed this game as being not a patch on its siblings Garegga and Batrider. It's short, its quite boring, but it's ripe for playing with.

One of my favourite things to do in this level is use the firey tickle blob on the front of your ship when its charging to kill everything, including the boss. You can actually clear this level without firing once!



Has anyone noticed how in shmups we don't call aeroplanes aeroplanes any more? Ships then, and here's a selection of nine. The second two rows may not be available - you need to unlock them using codes (see bottom of page for links)

Of them all, I like the Flame Viper best, it's got lovely firepower and nice speed for catching medals. Saber Tiger is another ship I end up getting good scores with. Pressing different buttons to start here results in various powerup/speed adjustments (again, see bottom of page!)


Yes, if you hate pink bullets and all that they stand for, you have 2 choices. Go and play an old shmup or else change the bullet colour. Hold down the C button and press in different directions to make everything lime green, for example. There ya go, instant Xbox port.



See. there you go, using the Tickle Attack on the first boss. Try it at least once and make me happy.


Boss fights tend to be manic and short - you won't be banging away at them for hours like some shmups - even a few smartbombs will quickly dispose of the hardest. Every boss is beatable without using bombs though, the attacks are always very fair and dodgable, you won't often get into situations where death or bomb is the only option.



Levels don't always come in the same order, depending on the ship you choose, there's also switches for letting players choose the order too. This can be quite strategic, depending on your objectives - for example if you are on a medal grabbing kick you WILL want to get the Naval level over asap!


Bakraid messes with the firing mechanism once again - this time - simply holding down the fire button is enough for full autofire. You don't need to use the Garegga trick of rapid button bashing to "charge up" your ship's auto firing rate.

Letting go of the fire button results in the nose cone going all sparkly (tickle attack), and makes your ship charge up its special shot. Then, pressing the button once more releases it. Some ships have rubbish ones, especially the first ship which seems to have a better normal shot than charge shot.



Not my favourite level, makes medal gathering extremely difficult with medal givers coming from the far sides of the screen making some easy to miss. But, you CAN miss medals in Bakraid without resetting them to the poxy smallest type - just make sure theres at least ONE medal actually left onscreen for you to get, before the last uncatchable one disappears offscreen. Tricky to do properly, but its paramount to learn if you want to master medalling in Bakraid.


Lots of Bakraid bosses have two forms - usually a second nastier small ship hidden within the bowels of a bigger one, and they jump out in Psikyo fashion.

This one's first form is about to die, and poop out a red helicopter thing.



Bombs are accrued by collecting the little bullet icons which appear when shooting some enemies - getting a certain number of these will supply you with a bomb. A bit like collecting cornflakes tokens to get a new school calculator.

This partular subboss always kills me, so I use a bomb every time. Sorted!


A very nice little level, starting with a flying subboss which, if you kill it right, can throw out lots of medals for you to miss.



Watch out for this attack, you can squeeze between the bullets in the middle. Scraping (letting bullets scratch your wings) is rewarded by some meagre points - it doesnt seem worth it to be honest.


Don't be fooled with these guys, they take a LOT of hits to kill. Many is the time I've let one run right into me. They also fire shootable shots - so you think you can sit in front of them and get them easily, but they take more hits than you think!!



Looks a bit more suburban to me now, complete with giant road wide tank. Lots of opportunity to medal up, you can spot them in the houses you destroy. Even if you have no medals at the start of this level, you can raise them to full size easily here.


Here's another boss giving birth. You've probably noticed a little bit of different style to Bakraid's graphics - they seem to be much cleaner and brighter than Garegga's grimy realism. I didn't really like the style at first, but the gameplay is tightened up so much by actually being able to SEE bullets before they hit you. Batrider too caused many kills this way for me, as the low contrast between bullets and the bright backgrounds made it hard to see them too.



As a little cool touch, you get told the name of the tune that's playing as you start levels and bosses pop up.

If you are not a fan of pattern shmups, Bakraid isn't that bad, honest. Patterns are always simple, usually 3 multilayered sweeping swathes on bosses, with the actual levels featuring a whole lot of aimed streams of bullets rather than random spam.


Another GREAT level for medal upping, railroad features lots of blue tanks which are all guaranteed to have a medal inside. Yummy - a bit like Kinder Eggs.



See what I mean about the various attacks being shot at you at once? Here we have some straight blocks of orange fire (shootable) with pink spreads and some orange missiley things coming straight at you. Just as well the hit area is small on your craft, even the big fat ones which look like handbags.


Every shmup must feature a rail tank which rides on multiple rails. He's only a sub-boss but a smart bomb is in order.



It's very tempting to ride up the trains and shoot every bit of them, but be careful because you are SO close to those bullets. I usually get sneakily killed once here.


This is the last level for normal mode, if you are playing that - and is a series of loads of different bosses one after the other - and they just DON'T let up. Fortunately theres a few carriers like these shown here which you can get lots of powerups and bomb tokens from.



Cyclops rides on 4 sets of rails, which means he is the end boss (it's straight from the shooter manual innit) Watch out for his spread of large grey shells, which can be a bit hard to spot.


The subbosses on this level are actually all fairly nondescript, but you will come to recognise and hate each one of them. Cloud level is easy to reach, but also easy to die on.



The nastiest little boss, he pokes his arms down and corners you with fast orange spreads if you arent quick enough. Hate him.


The last boss in the game in normal mode, and the cause of many last lost lives. Some days I played this game for about 5 hours straight, only to get here and die each time.



Some smaller ships with those precious powerups come floating by, skirt past these to face....


Another couple of very tough levels bolted onto the Advanced mode, the first (valley) seems really easy at first - it lulls you into a false sense of security - as with all false sense of security things you always realise a tad too late. Eek... Cue Golem...



... and its THIS attack which will end your game. This starts out very broad, but close in on you, holding you trapped. On Advanced mode, attacks like these also move about a bit too whilst holding you trapped in a tiny space - not easy at all!. Normal Game will end here and cue some plinky plonky end game music and an ending that's all you'd cynically expect.


And an equally nasty habit of throwing loads of pink bullets at you. Easy enough to dodgy at first, they increase in intensity.... after this there is another level, called EMPIRE - where you hit the heart of the baddies homeland etc etc. Have I mentioned the plot yet? It's complete nonsense about an air show and 9 pilots defending their country etc etc. If you really want to know, follow the link below!


<< GOLEM!!

Not the most pretty boss, it's really just a top view of a giant robot mech, with firey arms. He does have a nasty habit of running at you a lot though.


Yes yes, you want to play it now don't you? Mame does a surprisingly good job of emulating Bakraid, nicely fast on even a rubbish machine like mine with no apparent bits missing, even the music plays well. Even all the codes work, and brilliantly, stay set for future plays. To the purist though, I can really only recommend the arcade board, which isn't that expensive if you can find it, considering its age.

Now, there's an awful lot more to be said about bakraid, especially the secrets, there's tons of little things you can do and adjust to the game. So if you want codes and secrets, proper info on the medals, nice artwork and THAT story, I have to recommend The Sheep's super spread on the game. Bye! - Malc

PS: Another wee thing I found, is that if you hold the C button, and whilst holding it, press A a few times, it increases your shot rate. Theres a number up near the top of the screen which will go up to 30, indicating this is the maximum shot rate your ship can do. Pressing B instead will reduce it. Now, at the fastest rate you can kill things a little faster, but it DOES create some gaps in your shot stream. I use it lots though! Note that its been reported that this trick increases ENEMY shot speed - well, I don't think it does, its YOUR shot speed that's affected. Try it and see!

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  • How is my driving? Have I totally glossed over something really important? Any additions or corrections - please email me!


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