TAITO - SATURN
MAIN REVIEW by Neotype
The Saturn, as the less hype-sensitive among
you will know, is the most powerful machine when it comes to traditional
bitmap graphics. There are many arcade-perfect conversions to actually
prove this theory, and is somewhat the machine of choice for the
real die-hard video game fanatic. Take, for example, it's illustrious
shoot 'em up library - apart from the absence of a few key titles,
such as the compilation pack R-Types, it (nearly?) rivals that of
the PC Engine. Although few of these enjoyed a release in the west,
the first one to appear over here was Galactic Attack, one of the
best examples in the genre yet. A conversion of the Taito coin-op
Rayforce, renamed Layer Section for the Japanese consumer market,
and renamed again for the western audience.
And what makes the game so memorable? Let's start off with the graphics.
And they're excellent! There aren't many moments where the game
isn't trying to impress you with glorious backgrounds, semi-3D effects,
and huge enemies. Each
of the six levels look very different, and if you turn the arcade
mode on (be sure to either turn your head or rotate the TV), even
more graphical frills are on display. So what's up with up the sound,
then? Ahh. Wonderful, spacey tunes from Taito's in-house band, Zuntata,
robotic voices and glorious radio communication talk. Let's not
forget the explosions either - I had to hold on to a glass of water
to prevent it from falling off the table!
But so many shooters nowadays look and sound the business, surely
there's something else that makes Layer Section a standout? Well
for a start the lock-on feature is ingenious. Instead of offering
different tools of destruction, there are only two basic weapon
systems to use. There's the standard rapid-fire gun, but there's
also a target in front of your plane, Xevious style. This is needed
for doing away with enemies flying below you - all you need to do
is move the target over them, then fire one of your homing lasers.
The more power-ups you collect the more targets you can lock-on
at the same time, and the more powerful your lasers become. This
really makes the game a joy to play, and more strategic than most
other shmups. Some will moan that there's no variety in the weapons
department, and I thought so too at first, but after playing it
I made up my mind. I just love it!
Shoot 'em up greenies stay clear; even with the cheat for more credits
and the difficulty set on easy, you'll have to give it everything
you got to finish the game. Especially the later bosses will try
(and mostly succeed, too) to bring your life counter down. Practice
on your bullet-dodging skills and eye-hand coordination if you want
to stay alive! Sometimes, when fighting a boss, about 15% of the
screen doesn't contain something that kills you if you touch it...
The verdict: Layer Section is a difficult but mighty enjoyable shoot
'em up, and is all catered for in the audiovisual department. If
you see it somewhere (probably in a bargain bin or other places
you usually find Saturn software), buy it, then bang the vendor's
head on the counter for not giving it the credit it deserves by
putting it between stuff like Tomb Raider and Bug. Run home, place
it in the god-like Saturn, remove all glasses of water from the
table, cancel all your dates for the coming week... and play one
of the finest shooters in history of mankind.
ON THE OTHER HAND...
Every shooter game I've ever played I've seemed to like, and wanna
play it all the way through. I especially like the times when you
get a new emulator and it plays, for ex., Raiden 2, and stay up
all night beating it and pressing "1" or "F1" like 300 times total.
That's the type of game that gets me going. I played In The Hunt
for hours when it was released for Rage, and I still play it sometimes.
I don't know what it is about little shooters like Galactic Attack
or In the Hunt, they are all SO good, but that's me and not everyone
else. I like shooters a lot, so I can talk about them forever.
Galactic Attack is one of these games, but better in every way,
for many reasons. If you tell me a shooter, I can 1-up you with
Galactic Attack. First off, there's seven levels, I know not many,
but these are some LONG levels, especially the second one. Galactic
Attack is hard. I need 8 credits to get to the last guy, which I
can't beat yet, after playing it about 30 times. But really, the
game is worth a thousand plays, and each level is TOTALLY different.
In one you'll be WAY out in space, then you're close to earth (I
think it's earth!), about in its orbit, near the moon, and you go
inside it which is cool, then you enter the atmosphere and travel
along the stratosphere, then it's to the surface, kinda looks like
Raiden 2 here, next go inside the crust, then further down, then,
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LEVEL OF THE GAME, the core.
Yes it deserves a 10 because it uses 2D sprites like I've never
seen before. Totally worthy of a perfect 10.
The music is so good I play it at night to sleep. It's just great.
The sounds are great too, really emphasize the action, ya know?
This game introduced someting totally new to the Vertical Shooter
department, the lock-on-laser. It is dozens better than any super
bomb, although that would have been nice too, but it works so well,
and it is used so much, that without it the game would get like
a 6 in this category. The ship moves with perfect speed, and you
can choose rapid fire or not so there's no problem there.
Yes this game is super hard. You might get far the first time, but
after you get further and further, you get less further, and you
end up getting to the last boss with like 2 credits like I did the
last time and die.
I keep playing this one, despite the frustration of dying on the
second level once, which has to be avoided in order to get to the
last boss, and I will play it after I beat it because it is one
of those games that makes me feel good.
You can't have a Saturn, be a Vertical Shooter fan, or any shooter
fan, and live without this game. I picked it up for $15 at Toys
R Us and that was a year ago, still playing now.
both of you! I actually liked this game so much I bought both Layer
Section AND Galactic Attack (they were cheap, I'm not that daft). If
you're brave enough to whap your TV on its side, you'll be able to play
it the way it was intended... full screen vertical. Mind and have a
look at Layer Section II as well. While we're at it, I'm not so sure
about the dodgy label Working Designs have chosen for their shooter
range: SPAZ... Twitch Games Only. Hmm - maybe it means something different
to them. - malc