Hereís an interesting little game.
You play a cutesy guy riding on a cloud. It looks a lot like a platform
game, like Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars, and the way some of the ground
enemies hide behind pillars reminds me a lot of Shinobi. The enemies
are really weird, everything from teacups to birds with menís heads
make an appearance. But I guess the main programmer from China Warrior
had to start somewhere. J I first played Cloud Master a long time
ago, before I was really the shooter fanatic that I am now, and
didnít like it much. But now I appreciate the things that it does
Almost every game that comes along seems to be a clone of an already
existing and established shooter sub genre. That is, Pulstar is
of the R-Type style of gaming while Gate of Thunder owes its existence
perhaps to the Thunder Force series. This game, while it may not
be evident at first, is a Darius type game.
You build up your main weapon gradually, from a pea shooter to a
spread pea shooter to a rapid fire stream to the all mighty wave
weapon, (which actually levels up even more by having peas fire
from it as well as the waves.) There are five rounds with two mini
bosses in each level (really itís the same mini boss per level but
he comes back from the dead I suppose). After dispatching each one,
you are granted access into a little door that appears in the sky,
where you can choose one of 4 auxiliary weapons to use with your
main gun. So by holding down both buttons you are able to really
cover the screen with gunfire, a la Darius Twin. One of the auxiliary
weapons which looks like five miniature soldiers in red, is actually
just like the Darius 4 way spread secondary weapon. In addition
to these there is a grenade weapon and a weapon that simply adds
to your straight ahead firepower.
The main difference between this game and Darius is in this power
up system, and it actually endears me to Cloud Master over almost
any Darius game. (With the notable exceptions of Darius Plus and
Darius Alpha, both for PC Engine!) This game uses restart points!
While the modern day gamer hates this because you are forced back
in the game, it makes you learn and appreciate the levels more,
and perhaps more importantly, it allows you to build your arsenal
back up after dying. Dariusí main weakness is that if you die too
many times, you have NO chance at advancing in the game. However
if you play well you wonít have much chance of dying at all. Cloud
Master makes things much more balanced.
The graphics are very blah in the this game, with subdued pastel
backdrops (is that possible?!) and is certainly not the best the
SMS can do - witness R-Type. The music also has a subdued feel to
it, and at the worst of times you donít even realize itís playing.
At the best of times, it sounds like Kung Fu Master, which is not
a bad thing to be compared to if youíre a Master System cart.
All in all, the 5 rounds will give you a decent challenge the first
time through if you donít know whatís what. But once you do, youíll
find yourself clearing the game without dying quite easily while
eating or chatting on the telephone. (Or maybe thatís just me!)
Itís a fun way to spend an hour or so, or maybe even a day. The
only problem shmuppers will have with it is the fact that your character
is so large. It makes dodging sometimes a bitÖ dodgy. But youíll
probably only notice it when you get to the last boss where the
collision detection being a bit off (sometimes a bullet skims the
bottom of your cloud and you die!) and his attacks being a bit of
a tight squeeze to avoid, will give you a few troubles.
All in all, a very balanced game in terms of getting powered back
up when you die and I think fairness in shooters is missing these
days in the haste to make the hardest, most frantic game. Make it
hard, but make it fair dammit! (Like R-Type Delta, perhaps the fairest,
hard game out there! Puns certainly intended.)