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Allow me to explain how traditional game "patching" as on consoles and even PC by game developers is not always required for games to run better on Stadia over time... Stadia engineers can do it on their own to ever improve the visual quality of individual library titles.

I've been mulling over how to write this post without it getting too wordy and just turn people away from the topic... but I feel it's important for people to consider in regards to investing in game purchases on Stadia. Even though a years-old game is ported to Stadia by a 3rd party publisher, it is not abandoned by that developer after game engine code changes are required... at that point the Stadia team can take over tweaking the performance of the game as the Linux OS Kernel / Vulkan API / eventually hardware undergo improvements over time.
I've seen heated comments/reactions in these parts when people start noticing older games suddenly looking or performing better... even though there is no sign of a game patch from the developer or announcement that such a thing has happened. (FFXV.) I'm hear to explain how this is totally possible.
(Disclaimer: I've been a gaming platform tester for 13 years, a platform based from GenToo Linux Kernel. This year I have just branched directly into OS Kernel / Package testing itself.)
A software package / game is made up of not only game code and pretty graphics. Another fairly big piece of the puzzle is configuration files. Especially in the Linux world. Another thing about Linux is it never sits still. It's open source and ever growing and improving through constant iteration by engineers around the world. This includes the Vulkan API itself. Stadia's platform and Vulkan API has likely undergone dozens if not hundreds of iterations in the past year alone. It is CONSTANTLY improving, even if ever so slightly.
For comparison, a gaming console is a completely sealed environment. Not only does the hardware never change, but the OS and base Platform has very little wiggle room for improvement. Most significant improvements will happen within the first few years of a new console's life. But often the gains from that never spill over into the games themselves... but rather the Platform's UI interface and menu's, such as adding new features outside of the game. For things to change about a game at all, a patch MUST be delivered to the console. There is no other option, because the config files of individual games can't be touched in any other way.
On PC you often have access to these config files (at the devoloper's discretion of what they choose to expose of course). Many people know of how you can start digging into these settings and adjust number values and flip on/off flags to affect your game. But these configuration files have default values set by the developers that are expected to never really be touched by the players... so even when they do want to change something for the benefit of everyone, they need to issue a game patch.
Now on a Cloud platform such as Stadia, when a game is delivered by a developer to the platform, of course their game engine code (binaries) cannot be altered by anyone but the game developer themselves as usual... so if there is bugs in code, or game engine code improvements that can be done, the developer must deploy a game patch to make these changes, as we have seen and people would expect. However the configuration files which define how the game performs on the platform's hardware are completely exposed... and this is what the Stadia team most likely has FULL control over. So if the Vulkan API gets some improvements or code optimizations, and they can squeeze a little bit more performance out of the game, the Stadia team can go into these config files and adjust things accordingly.
Not only configurations but also the graphical assets themselves (media) can be swapped with more high-rez assets as well. Its also very possible that the publishers/devs provide Stadia with multiple different versions of quality of their media. Some higher rez textures that can be swapped in if the platform is optimized enough to handle them, etc.
Why would the Stadia team take on the management of all the games in such a way? Because it's absolutely in their best interest too. This is also a big favor towards the game publisher as well... Stadia does work to improve the game ultimately generating better reception and sales of these games producing revenue for both Stadia and the publisher.
Cloud platforms are a new animal in the gaming world. How the games are maintained over time can be done very differently than what we are used to with console and PC.
So naturally this turned into a wall of text but I couldn't do it any other way... some things simply need to be explained as clearly as possible to get across.
ltdr: As Stadia platform / Vulkan API improve constantly over time, Stadia engineers can tweak the configurations of ANY game to make them look/run better without the developers needing to be involved and patch the games.
submitted by Z3M0G to Stadia [link] [comments]

Bug Fables is Paper Mario TTYD but a little better AND a little worse - and that's high praise!

Lil intro:
So Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling is an indie game, put together by Panamanian dev duo Moonsprout Games, to follow the legacy of the original two Paper Mario games. Now as someone who would name Paper Mario 2 in my top 5 games since it came out in 2004, I'm happy to report Bug Fables is an excellent successor to that legacy and the few negative comparisons that can be made seem to me to be the result of the difference in scale of available resources between Nintendo and Moonsprout.
The prologue and first chapter introduce the explorers league and the three main characters who enlist together to further their own goals, which are given time to gestate while the world and characters are established. The player characters, a standard trio of an honour-bound knight, a feisty rogue, and a dry humoured, aloof mage, are tasked with adventuring across the lands of Bugaria to collect MacGuffins by the Ant Queen's royal blade Maki. This typical plotline is interrupted and diverted in interesting ways, and the trio of different attitudes keep the dialogue fresh. It's especially nice to see the trio's dynamic shifting as they grow closer. All this to say the writing is about on par with Paper Mario 2, what it lacks in (comparative!) charm it makes up with in coherence.
The better:
There's a lot in this game that could be pulled pretty directly from its inspirations, but in many cases those ideas have been reinterpreted to suit Bug Fable's setting, characters, and unique aspects. This starts with the three main characters allowing a good amount of customization via levelups and badges, which in turn allows for a large variety of strategies to be employed in combat. This is improved by Bug Fables excellent badge selection; very few (often expensive) badges only add power and most badges include trade-offs or otherwise incentivize normally unusual strategies. This deeply strengthens the customization by eliminating the obvious choices for all situations that the Paper Mario games had.
Another large improvement was the use of the trio with the Tattle function, allowing every NPC, enemy, and room to be an opportunity for optional characterization between the teammates. Comparatively, in the Paper Mario games this characterization was limited to Goombario and Goombella, with cutscenes being the only chance other partners could be characters at all - often interchangeably. Often in Bug Fables I would extend a boss fight just so I could hear each of the trio's reaction to the enemy.
Beyond that, many features just seem so much more streamlined than in the Paper Marios: the transit systems fit better into the world and were available sooner though money-gated early on to preserve difficulty, the game economy was balanced to allow for resource scarcity or exploitation without either being tedious as well as having purchases worth saving up for, and a lot of freedom in where and how to travel is given remarkably early on which allows for certain items or badges to be rushed. Best of all, a lot of the lore, world building, and characterization is optional, allowing for uninterested players, replayers, or speedrunners to bypass many walls of text. So many features like these struck me as something a dev would include in a post-release patch, and they make the game much smoother to play.
Lastly, the biggest improvement for me was the difficulty: after the first battle a zero cost Hard Mode badge becomes an option, which keeps the battles threatening til lategame. This is such an important improvement as it turns the early game into a resource balancing act, which encourages thoughtful battling, using the cooking system, and creating badge builds. Unlike in Paper Mario, items are relevant all game long with the best items being simple, if expensive, cooked items that won't win fights on their own. Also, superblocking reduces damage by 1 more than blocking, removing the binary "all or nothing" aspect of superguarding. The only times combat felt unfair was when one enemy had an unpreventable, single target status effect which twice caused me to lose by unluckily targeting my buffed bug, and another when a rapid shot status ailment attack one-shot my tank after a marathon of battling. Additional difficulty options are also available, tho I haven't play around with them yet.
The worse:
The "in the field" controls are somewhat finicky, especially when the camera angle in large or curved rooms adjusts as you move. Additionally, most field skills are usable 360 degrees around the leading character, as opposed to Mario skills which usually are restricted to Mario's direct left or right. This can lead to some spatial confusion, as positioning 2D character models to use 2D animations in a 3D environment can be frustrating - dodging enemy shots while trying to engage in combat comes to mind.
This is also true of several platforming puzzles; solving the puzzle was frequently much easier than executing the solution. While this was barely an issue that took longer than a minute, I could see how it could be frustrating, especially without certain badges.
I also felt that a lot of the decorations in areas could have questionable physics models. Poking around behind foreground or midground items could feel awkward, as their meshes sometimes didn't feel like what the graphics reflected - especially when the item was large enough for the backside of the object to have to be assumed.
Lastly, some of the side content felt unfleshed-out: interesting characters used for a single fetch quest or function, cool side areas with a single purpose, or just unused potential like a sea with two islands. Add to this that the enemy variety was good for the story (exactly one instance of palate swaps, and one area of mostly reused enemies) but lacking for side areas, and my biggest problem with the game is there isn't slightly more of it.
Also:
The music is consistently great, with very few songs not memorably contributing to an area/event's mood. Midway thru the game, the battle music changes to reflect the upped stakes and that's just great. Snakemouth Den and several boss tracks being standouts for me.
Conclusion:
With Bug Fables being an indie dev game as well as a first release its possible the 1.1 patch and/or DLC could change some of the rougher parts, but even besides this it is a solidly great game within the genre. With a bit of sequel baiting sprinkled into the endgame, I'm very impressed by Moonsprout and I may actually change my Sticker Star created rule to never, ever preorder once Bug Fables 2 is announced. If the improvement between this game and its sequel is as big as between the Paper Marios, it could easily be my favourite game of all time.
submitted by OberstScythe to patientgamers [link] [comments]

Version Control in Game Development: 10 Vague Reasons to Use It

Version Control in Game Development: 10 Vague Reasons to Use It
Whether you’re a AAA development shop or an indie programmer, building a game will surely take more than just a couple of weekends. Many things can happen between the inception of the game and the time it will be released. To track and manage these changes, developers use version (source) control. Let's talk about version control, branching, and how to select the best version control system.

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The software development process is a long and arduous road. Changes might be introduced to the game mechanics, the admin part of the game, or practically anywhere, especially, if you develop a GaaS product.
These changes need to be tracked. Indeed, you don’t want to simply copy the entire folder of the game project and save it under a different name (like mycoolgame_v02). You will need version management. That’s what version control systems are for.

What is version control?

Version control is the practice of tracking and managing changes to the code base. Version control systems provide a running history of how the code changes. Using version control tools also helps to resolve conflicts when merging contributions from multiple sources.

What is source control?

Source control and version control are practically interchangeable, but to put a fine point to it, version control is a more general term. Source control systems typically manage mostly textual data — source control typically means source code or program code. On the other hand, version control refers not only to the source code but also to the other assets of the game app, like images, audio, and video resources.

Branching

When you think of a branch, you’d typically picture a fork-like structure. Initially, there’s only one path, but then the paths diverge. That’s essentially what a branch is in source control lingo.
As you build your game app and expose it to testers, QA, and other stakeholders, they will give input that may force you to introduce changes to the game’s source. Most of the time, the changes will be small, but the changes will sometimes be massive. These large changes are inflection points to the development process. This is typically where you decide to branch.
The purpose of branching in version control is to achieve code isolation. You’re branching probably because the new branch represents the next version of the game, or it could be something smaller, like “let’s fix bug number 12345”. Whatever branching method you choose, you’ll need a version control.

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Why use version control in game projects?

#1 - Code backup

Source control, especially a remote repository, is a backup for your code. Indeed, you don’t want your hard drive to be a single point of failure. Do you? What happens to 10 months of coding work if the drive gets fried? What if your server dies? Do you have an automated backup?

#2 - Better team collaboration

Share the code with other contributors and still be in sync with each other. If you’re not using source control, how will you work with other developers? Do you really want to use Dropbox or Google Drive to share source codes? How will you track each other’s changes? Version control systems take care of synching and resolving conflicts or differences with codes from multiple contributors.

#3 - Roll back to the previous version

Version control systems are a retreat strategy. Have you ever made breaking changes to the code and realized what a colossal mistake it was? If you ever want to go back, it’s a cinch to do that in a version control system.

#4 - Experiments with zero risks

It makes experimentation easy. Do you want to try something radical, but you don’t want to clutter or pollute your codebase? Branch. If the idea doesn’t pan out, just leave the branch and go back to the trunk

#5 - Full audit trail

Provides an audit trail for the codebase. You can go back to previous versions of the code to find out when and where the bugs first crept in.

#6 - Better release management

Monitor the progress of the code. You can see how much work is being done, by who, where, and when.

#7 - Code comparison and analysis

You can compare versions of your code. When you learn how to use diffing techniques, you can compare versions of your code in a side-by-side fashion.

#8 - Manage different versions of the game

Maintain multiple versions of your product. Branching strategies should help you maintain different versions of your game/product. It is a common practice for the developers to have at least a production version (free from bugs, well-tested) and a work-in-progress development version.

#9 - Scaling the game projects and companies

Are you an indie developer? Or you are employed by one of the game giants - Ubisoft, Tencent or King? Whatever project you are involved into at the moment, you may come to the point when you’ll need to deal with more teammates, run more tests, and fix more bugs. Version control software is an indispensable part of your game growth.

#10 - Facilitate the continuous game updates

Thinking about the previous point, how often do you plan to release your game updates? Do you plan to do it once a year, monthly or weekly?
The more frequently you update your game, the more likely you’ll need to do the feature branching or release branching to minimize bugs and achieve flawless user experience. Not to mention if you select the games-as-a-service model.

What to consider when selecting version control systems

If you’re about to start a project and deciding which version control system to use, you might want to consider the following.
  1. Ability to support game projects. Some version control platforms are better suited for application development where most of the assets are textual (source codes), and some are better at handling binaryfiles (audio, video, image assets). Make sure your source control system can handle both.
  2. User experience. The source control platform must be supported by tools. If the platform is a CLI-only (command-line interface), it might be popular amongst developers, but non-dev people (artists, designers) might have difficulty using it. The tools have to be friendly to everybody.
  3. Ecosystem of tools and integrations. Does your CI/CD platform support it? Can Jenkins pull from this repo? Your version control system must play nice with the CI/CD apps in the age of continuous integration. Other questions to ask might be;
  • Can you hook it up with Unreal/Unity?
  • Do our IDEs support it?
  • Is it easy to connect it with Trello? Jira?
  1. Hosted or on-premise. Are there companies offering a hosted solution for this version control system? Or do you have to provision a server yourself and find a data center where to park it? Hosting an in-premise source control system has advantages. Still, it also carries lots of baggage like IT personnel cost, capital cost, depreciation cost, etc. In contrast, a hosted solution lets you avoid all those in exchange for a fee.
  2. Single file versioning ability. Can you check out only a single file, or do you have to download everything? Some version control systems force developers to download all the updates from a central server before you can share or see any change. This might be sensible for application code, but it may not make sense for a game app where some of the assets are large binary files.
  3. Access control. Does the system let you control who has access to what? How granular is the control? Can you assign rights down to the file level? Can you assign read but not write privileges to users for particular files?
Some common version control systems are better at handling some of the things we stated above, and some are better at managing others. You may need to do a comparison matrix to select amongst the version control options.

If you ask an application developer for recommendation, I’m almost sure they’ll tell you Git, Subversion, or CVS. These are heavy favorites of app devs. They’re open-source software and great at handling textual data, but they may be ill-suited for a game development project because of the way they handle BLOBS or binary files (which a game app has lots of).
If you ask a game developer, you’ll get a different recommendation; game development projects have very different version control needs than application development projects. Should it be an independent software or a built-in feature in your database or CMS platform?
How many people are involved in game development? How many databases? How are localization and content delivery done?
Gridly features the built-in version control, which enables branching of the content datasets, tweak them in isolation and merge back to the master branch. Sign up for free and make your first branch.
submitted by LocalizeDirectAB to u/LocalizeDirectAB [link] [comments]

THE SEARCH FOR THE GREATEST SHMUP: EPISODE 27 – Darius Cozmic Collection Console

This is it. We have finally managed to reach the shmup that started it all. The one shmup I played before any other and which inspired me to devote my time to the genre. It isn’t the best Darius game by any means, but it is certainly the one closest to my heart. We are finally reviewing Super Nova!
Ok, maybe we’re not just reviewing Super Nova. We are going to be taking a look at the entire Console Cozmic Collection and seeing how it stacks up against the Arcade Collection. They say console ports are usually downgraded versions, but will it also be the case here?
Publisher: ININ Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: Jun 16, 2020
Price: $59.99
Tate: Please don’t use your flip grip on this one
The Darius Cozmic Collection Console is a compilation of Darius games released on consoles. This port was also developed by the brilliant M2. You can definitely set your expectations on high, because this collections is as high quality as the arcade collection, albeit with some notably absent features.
The titles included in this collection are:
THE BESTEST PORTS ARE M2 PORTS
If you read my review for the Arcade Collection, then you know what to expect from this collection. Each of the 9 included games feature a wonderful wrapping of quality of life enhancements as well as customization options.
Each title can be accessed from a main menu that features a museum style listing for each game. When highlight a game, you will be presented with an image of the title screen and a brief description of the game on its right. I found the descriptions extremely helpful when deciding which game to play. Having several versions of the same game is great for collection purposes, but the descriptions provided some much needed guidance.
While in-game, you can pull a special menu at any point by pressing ZR or ZL. This menu lets you customize several aspects of a game, such as the controls and the visuals. Just as the arcade collection, you can set your controllers to map buttons to be fire+bomb and even adjust the rapid fire setting. The visuals have less options, but staples such as the display type and scanlines are available. The “other” tab is quite lacking, as it only has the volume setting.
It wouldn’t be much emulation without some save states! Each game has a quick save option which lets you save your current state in one of 12 different slots. The saving and loading process is very smooth, and it doesn’t take any time at all to load any given state. Unlike the arcade collection, there are no ranking penalties for using save states. Rather than being a good thing, it mostly relates to a lack of rankings, but more on that later.
THE MISSING FEATURES
Whereas the arcade collection felt like a love letter to the arcade culture, the console collection lacks a lot of the charm. It’s in part understandable due the nature of consoles not being as flashy as arcades. I don’t mean to say that the work in this collection is lacking in comparison, it’s just that in general arcades had much more going on.
One of my highlights in the arcade collection was my introduction to Darius I with controller vibration in sync to the music. Sound and vibration fanfares were not available on console because there is no such thing as coin operated credits. As a result, rumble is completely absent in this collection.
All of the gadgets are missing from this edition as well. Rather than getting the art of the arcade panels or useful information, all the console collection gets is a background. When looking at both collections side by side, the console collection like extremely empty, as you only have the game screen and nothing else. The only exception is Darius Alpha, which has a boss gadget on the right side of the screen.
THE LONG LOST GAME CHANGERS
To the detriment of gameplay, some of the more useful gadgets won’t be making a return. Losing the boss analyzer and life gauges is rough, but pales in comparison to losing your arm counter. Other than relying on in-game visuals, you no longer have additional graphics showing arm strength, weapon strength or even bonus score counters.
Another addition I was really fond of was the map/zone overview on the pause screen. Most of the games show the route progression in-game (except for Darius Plus). What is lost is the ability to see the map at any time by pressing ZZL, and even worse is losing the information related to a zone. I really enjoyed knowing how many power-ups were present in a given stage, but I absolutely loved knowing which bosses would appear on which route. My routing decisions have 100% been influenced by fighting cool fishes.
To make matters worse, the replay system has been completely revamped. You can no longer save replays of your playthroughs in most of the main games. Instead, replays are reserved only for the special modes of Darius Alpha, the boss rush of Darius Force and the boss rush of Darius II. While this means there’s still a way to relive some of your greatest moments, it is limited to some modes which pale in comparison to the actual games. Oh yeah, the leaderboards are also limited to the special modes as well.
But enough about the collection, let’s get to the games.
DARIUS II/SAGAIA
Darius II and SAGAIA are ports of the original arcade game into the Mega Drive/Sega Genesis. As with arcade ports, the game had to undergo some changes in order to be playable on consoles. Sprites were redrawn to be smaller, gameplay was adapted to a single screen and co-op had to be removed. Still, it manages to fit the entire Darius II in both versions, as opposed to arcade SAGAIA which was a reduced version.
Just to clarify, Darius II and SAGAIA are the same game. The difference in naming comes from localizing the game to North America.
I’ll be honest, out of all the games in the collection, this was the one I played the least. I don’t mean to say the game isn’t good. My reduced play time comes from the fact that I already played A LOT of Darius II for the arcade collection, so for an in-depth overview I recommend checking out the Arcade Collection review.
However, I did get a couple of full playthroughs and I gotta say that it does a great job at capturing the original game’s essence! Gameplay is essencially untouched, so expect to go through the same all-or-nothing upgrade system, branching paths with Darius II bosses and some wacky endings! One of my thoughts that I have to rehash is that the game is either a cakewalk or extremely brutal depending on your upgrade level. If you keep it maxed, then the game is a breeze. If you fall even once, it’s a very tough hill to climb.
SAGAIA MASTER SYSTEM – THE BUDGET DARIUS
In an odd turn of events, a version of SAGAIA was released for the Sega Master System. For those unfamiliar, the Master System is basically the equivalent of the NES. This game exists because the 8-bit market was still going strong in Europe when it released.
As impressive as it might be to have SAGAIA on an 8-bit console, we have to consider that it had to be downgraded from an already downgraded version. If it sounds rough, it is because the game itself is extremely rough. The framerate is lower, the sprites flicker on screen and the game lags when there are too many sprites on screen.
I found it next to impossible to play this game for long periods of time. It really is hard to justify playing the lesser version when I have better alternatives in this same collection.
DARIUS TWIN
Darius Twin was the first Darius to actually be made for consoles. It isn’t an arcade port or a game adapted from a multiple screen format into a single screen. Darius Twin is a completely original entry, and as such it takes full advantage of the console format for the better!
Out of the box I have to say this: Darius Twin is easily my favorite game on this entire collection. The biggest reason is that this feels like a game that doesn’t try to be a coin sink. Instead, it plays around with the concept of a single credit and balances the game around it. The result is a shmup that feels much more fast paced, but never overwhelming and certainly not one where it’s impossible to repair from death.
In terms of mechanics, it is by all means a Darius game in its fundamentals. Pilot the Silver Hawk through branching paths, collect red/green/blue upgrades and beat the fishes. One distinct difference is that you do not lose your power level on death. Although it doesn’t sound like much, I do believe this is the one difference that greatly improves the experience.
Previous Darius games have felt, to varying degrees, as games that should be played without getting hit or else risk not being able to recover. Since Darius Twin doesn’t have this hindrance, you are always in your best shape and it helps keep the fun going. You do have to be careful, as you respawn without arm, but other than that it’s never a lost cause.
SNES AND SUPER FAMICON
Darius Twin comes in 2 different versions: One for the SNES and the other for the Super Famicon. Unlike other entries, the versions are for the most part the same. The difference is that the SNES version has localization. It also features stereo sound, whereas the SFC version had mono. Although it is nice to have the SFC version, in reality you probably want to play the SNES version all the time. Unless, of course, you want humanity to create weapons made from the bones of its kill instead of wood and rocks.
One of the most surprising aspects about Darius Twin is the sound. I’m unapologetically a SNES fan, so when I heard the game’s OST and sound effects, I felt a wave of nostalgia. The tracks and sounds are very SNES-ish and it is a style that I’m very fond of.
I really encourage everyone to go hard on this game. I really enjoyed it and I think you might share my love if you give it a go! It offers a perfect blend of action and challenge which pushes you to your limits, but is never unfair. As an extra bonus, it features several different endings depending on how many lives you lost, with the best ending being unlocked on a true no death run. Also, once you max your wind slash, don’t pickup the weapon swap.
DARIUS FORCE/ SUPER NOVA
Super Nova is a special game for me. It is the one game I remember seeing on the video store and renting thanks to the cool box art. The first stage is a memory I can vividly remember. The first enemy waves, the trilobyte miniboss, the boss theme and even his name: Biohazard.
As a side note, to this day I don’t really know who is the boss on the Super Nova box art. Judging by how long it is, it might be Peace Destroyer, but I’m not really sure.
Darius Force was released after Darius Twin. It certainly has console gaming in mind, but it draws several gameplay elements from arcade Darius. Sadly, they brought my least favorite: the checkpoint system. Dying in Darius Force has to be one of the most disappointing experiences. Upon death, the screen blacks out and you are taken back to the last checkpoint you crossed. Your beam and bombs are reset to level one, although you keep your arm upgrade levels.
It’s also the first game to feature bosses other than marine organisms. Expect to see prehistoric creatures and dinosaurs.
To counter balance the checkpoint system, Darius Force is much more generous on the power-ups. After returning to a checkpoint, you are always treated to a beam and arm power-up. A level 2 beam is quite a downgrade, but at least you get an arm to claw your way back into the game.
A TRIBUTE TO THE CLASSICS
One of the new features of Darius Force is the ability to choose your ship. At the beginning, you are given a choice of 3 different models of the Silver Hawk. The green Hawk is based on Darius I and has the wave upgrade path. The blue Hawk is based on Darius II with the napalm beam. Finally, the red Hawk is an original ship.
Another change is the fact that beam and bombs upgrade together. There are 8 different upgrade levels, with your main beam switching fire type until its final form. Collecting a red power-up will upgrade both of them 1 level. As mentioned before, dying will set you back to level 1, so it becomes crucial to stay alive once you reach level 8. A neat change is that, for the first time, you can switch your bomb type between bomb and laser. Bombs will deal more damage, while laser will go through weak enemies.
The merger of beam and bombs also has a neat strategic implication. For one, you can no longer freely shoot your beam in tandem with your bombs. If you attempt to press both buttons at once, you will fire a downgraded version of both the beam and bombs. This means you need to be more mindful of whether you want the power of your beam or the power of your bombs.
INTENTIONAL WEAKNESS
Luckily, downgrading your weapons might actually be a desirable outcome. For me, the middle levels of the green Hawk were too awkward to use, as they were piercing lasers. By pressing both buttons, I was able to revert to the trusty spread shot until my level was high enough to bypass the beam in favor of the wave shot. If you think about it, the laser is a lot like puberty. No one really likes puberty, but it is an important transition phase we can totally avoid by firing and bombing.
Darius Force includes an extra boss rush mode that was previously accessible with a special code. Rather than needing complicated button inputs, the boss rush mode can be directly accessed when choosing Darius Force from the main menu (not available for Super Nova). It is also one of the few modes which have been blessed replays and leaderboards.
DARIUS PLUS/ DARIUS ALPHA
Finally rounding up the collection are the PC titles. You can think of them as parallel universe versions of the main game.
Darius Plus is a “lite” version of Super Darius, which itself is a souped up version of the original Darius. So you can think of it as just a port of Darius on a single screen format.
As a port of Darius, it has all the levels you are familiar with, while boasting 16 different bosses. The rest of the gameplay is straight up Darius, with the notable exception being that the action is reduced to a single screen instead of having 3.
In terms of where I stand on Darius Plus as a game, I gotta say it is fun but a straight up worse version. The game doesn’t look as clean as the arcade version and the sound is also worse. I also feel like the levels are longer, or perhaps it’s just the screen reduction making levels seem longer than they should be. One thing for sure, is that the gameplay feels dragged on to the point of feeling boring at times. There are sequences that felt like they repeat endlessly until you reached the end of the stage.
The one thing it’s got going over the its original arcade counter part is the 1cc gameplay. Rather than being able to pump credits endlessly, Darius Plus plays on a single credit and is balanced around that as a result. One particular change that makes me happy is that you don’t return to a checkpoint upon dying.
This game exists to remind me how much I hate the laser on the original Darius.
DARIUS ALPHA: THE BOSS RUSH: THE GAME
Finally we have Darius Alpha, the compilation of the extra modes. Instead of being an actual game, Darius Alpha is a boss rush against the 16 bosses. Just like Plus, you have a single credit to beat the whole game. Power-ups are automatically acquired in between boss rounds, but the same restrictions as the main game applies. This means that you will lose your power level if you die, up until your latest upgrade.
The selling point of Alpha in this collection is that it has most of the ranking modes for the collection. The extra modes are the following:
LAST WORDS
Out of the gate, I have to say that this is the worse of the 2 collections. The arcade collection has the Darius games in its pure arcade form. Games which stand strong even to this day when it comes to quality. M2 took these games and made them even better with their porting expertise and several love letters to the games. The console collection not only contains downgraded versions, but also lacks some of the finer details that made them great in the first place.
Despite having more games, Darius II/SAGAIA and Darius Plus are basically downgrades of Darius II and Darius I respectively. This leaves us with Darius Twin and Darius Force to carry the collection, and they actually do! Darius Force might not be as fantastic as I remember, it certainly feels slower than I remember, but I did constantly revisit it while creating this piece because it is a very enjoyable game. Darius Twin was the great surprise, as I find it to be my absolute favorite in this collection, and a strong contender to Darius Gaiden in my opinion.
With all that being said, I consider the contents of this collection to be very good, but with a very notable flaw: the price. At $59.99, this collection is a very tough sell. I can’t in good faith recommend it highly, as the same amount of money can purchase several highly rated titles in this list. In fact, it could even get you the arcade collection and the #1 shmup Ikaruga. Still, the quality of the collection is something I can’t deny, so I’ll be weighting that much more than the price in its final ranking.
THE RANKING SO FAR:
  1. Ikaruga
  2. Psyvariar Delta
  3. Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
  4. Devil Engine
  5. Rolling Gunner
  6. Blazing Star
  7. Jamestown+
  8. Darius Cozmic Collection Console
  9. Tengai
  10. Steredenn: Binary Stars
  11. Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax
  12. Sky Force: Reloaded
  13. Strikers 1945
  14. Black Paradox
  15. R-Type Dimensions EX
  16. Sine Mora EX
  17. Shikhondo – Soul Eater
  18. Ghost Blade HD
  19. AngerForce: Reloaded
  20. Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
  21. Q-YO Blaster
  22. Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
  23. Pawarumi
  24. Red Death
  25. Task Force Kampas
  26. Switch ‘N’ Shoot
  27. Last Resort (ACA Neogeo)
submitted by AzorMX to shmups [link] [comments]

[Review] Ranking all the Switch shmups Ep27 – Darius Cozmic Collection Console

This is it. We have finally managed to reach the shmup that started it all. The one shmup I played before any other and which inspired me to devote my time to the genre. It isn’t the best Darius game by any means, but it is certainly the one closest to my heart. We are finally reviewing Super Nova!
Ok, maybe we’re not just reviewing Super Nova. We are going to be taking a look at the entire Console Cozmic Collection and seeing how it stacks up against the Arcade Collection. They say console ports are usually downgraded versions, but will it also be the case here?
Publisher: ININ Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: Jun 16, 2020
Price: $59.99
Tate: Please don’t use your flip grip on this one
The Darius Cozmic Collection Console is a compilation of Darius games released on consoles. This port was also developed by the brilliant M2. You can definitely set your expectations on high, because this collections is as high quality as the arcade collection, albeit with some notably absent features.
The titles included in this collection are:
THE BESTEST PORTS ARE M2 PORTS
If you read my review for the Arcade Collection, then you know what to expect from this collection. Each of the 9 included games feature a wonderful wrapping of quality of life enhancements as well as customization options.
Each title can be accessed from a main menu that features a museum style listing for each game. When highlight a game, you will be presented with an image of the title screen and a brief description of the game on its right. I found the descriptions extremely helpful when deciding which game to play. Having several versions of the same game is great for collection purposes, but the descriptions provided some much needed guidance.
While in-game, you can pull a special menu at any point by pressing ZR or ZL. This menu lets you customize several aspects of a game, such as the controls and the visuals. Just as the arcade collection, you can set your controllers to map buttons to be fire+bomb and even adjust the rapid fire setting. The visuals have less options, but staples such as the display type and scanlines are available. The “other” tab is quite lacking, as it only has the volume setting.
It wouldn’t be much emulation without some save states! Each game has a quick save option which lets you save your current state in one of 12 different slots. The saving and loading process is very smooth, and it doesn’t take any time at all to load any given state. Unlike the arcade collection, there are no ranking penalties for using save states. Rather than being a good thing, it mostly relates to a lack of rankings, but more on that later.
THE MISSING FEATURES
Whereas the arcade collection felt like a love letter to the arcade culture, the console collection lacks a lot of the charm. It’s in part understandable due the nature of consoles not being as flashy as arcades. I don’t mean to say that the work in this collection is lacking in comparison, it’s just that in general arcades had much more going on.
One of my highlights in the arcade collection was my introduction to Darius I with controller vibration in sync to the music. Sound and vibration fanfares were not available on console because there is no such thing as coin operated credits. As a result, rumble is completely absent in this collection.
All of the gadgets are missing from this edition as well. Rather than getting the art of the arcade panels or useful information, all the console collection gets is a background. When looking at both collections side by side, the console collection like extremely empty, as you only have the game screen and nothing else. The only exception is Darius Alpha, which has a boss gadget on the right side of the screen.
THE LONG LOST GAME CHANGERS
To the detriment of gameplay, some of the more useful gadgets won’t be making a return. Losing the boss analyzer and life gauges is rough, but pales in comparison to losing your arm counter. Other than relying on in-game visuals, you no longer have additional graphics showing arm strength, weapon strength or even bonus score counters.
Another addition I was really fond of was the map/zone overview on the pause screen. Most of the games show the route progression in-game (except for Darius Plus). What is lost is the ability to see the map at any time by pressing ZZL, and even worse is losing the information related to a zone. I really enjoyed knowing how many power-ups were present in a given stage, but I absolutely loved knowing which bosses would appear on which route. My routing decisions have 100% been influenced by fighting cool fishes.
To make matters worse, the replay system has been completely revamped. You can no longer save replays of your playthroughs in most of the main games. Instead, replays are reserved only for the special modes of Darius Alpha, the boss rush of Darius Force and the boss rush of Darius II. While this means there’s still a way to relive some of your greatest moments, it is limited to some modes which pale in comparison to the actual games. Oh yeah, the leaderboards are also limited to the special modes as well.
But enough about the collection, let’s get to the games.
DARIUS II/SAGAIA
Darius II and SAGAIA are ports of the original arcade game into the Mega Drive/Sega Genesis. As with arcade ports, the game had to undergo some changes in order to be playable on consoles. Sprites were redrawn to be smaller, gameplay was adapted to a single screen and co-op had to be removed. Still, it manages to fit the entire Darius II in both versions, as opposed to arcade SAGAIA which was a reduced version.
Just to clarify, Darius II and SAGAIA are the same game. The difference in naming comes from localizing the game to North America.
I’ll be honest, out of all the games in the collection, this was the one I played the least. I don’t mean to say the game isn’t good. My reduced play time comes from the fact that I already played A LOT of Darius II for the arcade collection, so for an in-depth overview I recommend checking out the Arcade Collection review.
However, I did get a couple of full playthroughs and I gotta say that it does a great job at capturing the original game’s essence! Gameplay is essencially untouched, so expect to go through the same all-or-nothing upgrade system, branching paths with Darius II bosses and some wacky endings! One of my thoughts that I have to rehash is that the game is either a cakewalk or extremely brutal depending on your upgrade level. If you keep it maxed, then the game is a breeze. If you fall even once, it’s a very tough hill to climb.
SAGAIA MASTER SYSTEM – THE BUDGET DARIUS
In an odd turn of events, a version of SAGAIA was released for the Sega Master System. For those unfamiliar, the Master System is basically the equivalent of the NES. This game exists because the 8-bit market was still going strong in Europe when it released.
As impressive as it might be to have SAGAIA on an 8-bit console, we have to consider that it had to be downgraded from an already downgraded version. If it sounds rough, it is because the game itself is extremely rough. The framerate is lower, the sprites flicker on screen and the game lags when there are too many sprites on screen.
I found it next to impossible to play this game for long periods of time. It really is hard to justify playing the lesser version when I have better alternatives in this same collection.
DARIUS TWIN
Darius Twin was the first Darius to actually be made for consoles. It isn’t an arcade port or a game adapted from a multiple screen format into a single screen. Darius Twin is a completely original entry, and as such it takes full advantage of the console format for the better!
Out of the box I have to say this: Darius Twin is easily my favorite game on this entire collection. The biggest reason is that this feels like a game that doesn’t try to be a coin sink. Instead, it plays around with the concept of a single credit and balances the game around it. The result is a shmup that feels much more fast paced, but never overwhelming and certainly not one where it’s impossible to repair from death.
In terms of mechanics, it is by all means a Darius game in its fundamentals. Pilot the Silver Hawk through branching paths, collect red/green/blue upgrades and beat the fishes. One distinct difference is that you do not lose your power level on death. Although it doesn’t sound like much, I do believe this is the one difference that greatly improves the experience.
Previous Darius games have felt, to varying degrees, as games that should be played without getting hit or else risk not being able to recover. Since Darius Twin doesn’t have this hindrance, you are always in your best shape and it helps keep the fun going. You do have to be careful, as you respawn without arm, but other than that it’s never a lost cause.
SNES AND SUPER FAMICON
Darius Twin comes in 2 different versions: One for the SNES and the other for the Super Famicon. Unlike other entries, the versions are for the most part the same. The difference is that the SNES version has localization. It also features stereo sound, whereas the SFC version had mono. Although it is nice to have the SFC version, in reality you probably want to play the SNES version all the time. Unless, of course, you want humanity to create weapons made from the bones of its kill instead of wood and rocks.
One of the most surprising aspects about Darius Twin is the sound. I’m unapologetically a SNES fan, so when I heard the game’s OST and sound effects, I felt a wave of nostalgia. The tracks and sounds are very SNES-ish and it is a style that I’m very fond of.
I really encourage everyone to go hard on this game. I really enjoyed it and I think you might share my love if you give it a go! It offers a perfect blend of action and challenge which pushes you to your limits, but is never unfair. As an extra bonus, it features several different endings depending on how many lives you lost, with the best ending being unlocked on a true no death run. Also, once you max your wind slash, don’t pickup the weapon swap.
DARIUS FORCE/ SUPER NOVA
Super Nova is a special game for me. It is the one game I remember seeing on the video store and renting thanks to the cool box art. The first stage is a memory I can vividly remember. The first enemy waves, the trilobyte miniboss, the boss theme and even his name: Biohazard.
As a side note, to this day I don’t really know who is the boss on the Super Nova box art. Judging by how long it is, it might be Peace Destroyer, but I’m not really sure.
Darius Force was released after Darius Twin. It certainly has console gaming in mind, but it draws several gameplay elements from arcade Darius. Sadly, they brought my least favorite: the checkpoint system. Dying in Darius Force has to be one of the most disappointing experiences. Upon death, the screen blacks out and you are taken back to the last checkpoint you crossed. Your beam and bombs are reset to level one, although you keep your arm upgrade levels.
It’s also the first game to feature bosses other than marine organisms. Expect to see prehistoric creatures and dinosaurs.
To counter balance the checkpoint system, Darius Force is much more generous on the power-ups. After returning to a checkpoint, you are always treated to a beam and arm power-up. A level 2 beam is quite a downgrade, but at least you get an arm to claw your way back into the game.
A TRIBUTE TO THE CLASSICS
One of the new features of Darius Force is the ability to choose your ship. At the beginning, you are given a choice of 3 different models of the Silver Hawk. The green Hawk is based on Darius I and has the wave upgrade path. The blue Hawk is based on Darius II with the napalm beam. Finally, the red Hawk is an original ship.
Another change is the fact that beam and bombs upgrade together. There are 8 different upgrade levels, with your main beam switching fire type until its final form. Collecting a red power-up will upgrade both of them 1 level. As mentioned before, dying will set you back to level 1, so it becomes crucial to stay alive once you reach level 8. A neat change is that, for the first time, you can switch your bomb type between bomb and laser. Bombs will deal more damage, while laser will go through weak enemies.
The merger of beam and bombs also has a neat strategic implication. For one, you can no longer freely shoot your beam in tandem with your bombs. If you attempt to press both buttons at once, you will fire a downgraded version of both the beam and bombs. This means you need to be more mindful of whether you want the power of your beam or the power of your bombs.
INTENTIONAL WEAKNESS
Luckily, downgrading your weapons might actually be a desirable outcome. For me, the middle levels of the green Hawk were too awkward to use, as they were piercing lasers. By pressing both buttons, I was able to revert to the trusty spread shot until my level was high enough to bypass the beam in favor of the wave shot. If you think about it, the laser is a lot like puberty. No one really likes puberty, but it is an important transition phase we can totally avoid by firing and bombing.
Darius Force includes an extra boss rush mode that was previously accessible with a special code. Rather than needing complicated button inputs, the boss rush mode can be directly accessed when choosing Darius Force from the main menu (not available for Super Nova). It is also one of the few modes which have been blessed replays and leaderboards.
DARIUS PLUS/ DARIUS ALPHA
Finally rounding up the collection are the PC titles. You can think of them as parallel universe versions of the main game.
Darius Plus is a “lite” version of Super Darius, which itself is a souped up version of the original Darius. So you can think of it as just a port of Darius on a single screen format.
As a port of Darius, it has all the levels you are familiar with, while boasting 16 different bosses. The rest of the gameplay is straight up Darius, with the notable exception being that the action is reduced to a single screen instead of having 3.
In terms of where I stand on Darius Plus as a game, I gotta say it is fun but a straight up worse version. The game doesn’t look as clean as the arcade version and the sound is also worse. I also feel like the levels are longer, or perhaps it’s just the screen reduction making levels seem longer than they should be. One thing for sure, is that the gameplay feels dragged on to the point of feeling boring at times. There are sequences that felt like they repeat endlessly until you reached the end of the stage.
The one thing it’s got going over the its original arcade counter part is the 1cc gameplay. Rather than being able to pump credits endlessly, Darius Plus plays on a single credit and is balanced around that as a result. One particular change that makes me happy is that you don’t return to a checkpoint upon dying.
This game exists to remind me how much I hate the laser on the original Darius.
DARIUS ALPHA: THE BOSS RUSH: THE GAME
Finally we have Darius Alpha, the compilation of the extra modes. Instead of being an actual game, Darius Alpha is a boss rush against the 16 bosses. Just like Plus, you have a single credit to beat the whole game. Power-ups are automatically acquired in between boss rounds, but the same restrictions as the main game applies. This means that you will lose your power level if you die, up until your latest upgrade.
The selling point of Alpha in this collection is that it has most of the ranking modes for the collection. The extra modes are the following:
LAST WORDS
Out of the gate, I have to say that this is the worse of the 2 collections. The arcade collection has the Darius games in its pure arcade form. Games which stand strong even to this day when it comes to quality. M2 took these games and made them even better with their porting expertise and several love letters to the games. The console collection not only contains downgraded versions, but also lacks some of the finer details that made them great in the first place.
Despite having more games, Darius II/SAGAIA and Darius Plus are basically downgrades of Darius II and Darius I respectively. This leaves us with Darius Twin and Darius Force to carry the collection, and they actually do! Darius Force might not be as fantastic as I remember, it certainly feels slower than I remember, but I did constantly revisit it while creating this piece because it is a very enjoyable game. Darius Twin was the great surprise, as I find it to be my absolute favorite in this collection, and a strong contender to Darius Gaiden in my opinion.
With all that being said, I consider the contents of this collection to be very good, but with a very notable flaw: the price. At $59.99, this collection is a very tough sell. I can’t in good faith recommend it highly, as the same amount of money can purchase several highly rated titles in this list. In fact, it could even get you the arcade collection and the #1 shmup Ikaruga. Still, the quality of the collection is something I can’t deny, so I’ll be weighting that much more than the price in its final ranking.
THE RANKING SO FAR:
  1. Ikaruga
  2. Psyvariar Delta
  3. Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
  4. Devil Engine
  5. Rolling Gunner
  6. Blazing Star
  7. Jamestown+
  8. Darius Cozmic Collection Console
  9. Tengai
  10. Steredenn: Binary Stars
  11. Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax
  12. Sky Force: Reloaded
  13. Strikers 1945
  14. Black Paradox
  15. R-Type Dimensions EX
  16. Sine Mora EX
  17. Shikhondo – Soul Eater
  18. Ghost Blade HD
  19. AngerForce: Reloaded
  20. Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
  21. Q-YO Blaster
  22. Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
  23. Pawarumi
  24. Red Death
  25. Task Force Kampas
  26. Switch ‘N’ Shoot
  27. Last Resort (ACA Neogeo)
submitted by AzorMX to NintendoSwitch [link] [comments]

THE SEARCH FOR THE GREATEST SWITCH SHMUP: EPISODE 28 – Raiden V: Director’s Cut

Before I begin, I just want to remind everyone that all of my reviews can be found at my site: www.azormx.com. I tried to keep it as minimalist as possible, and it doesn't have any add or any other intrusive elements, so the content is king. Do check it out, as reviews are usually live there before I publish them elsewhere. Any way, on to the review!

The shmup genre hasn’t been a mainstream genre in a long time. To be honest, I don’t think it ever was, even during the arcade days. While we certainly don’t have a shortage of shmups, let alone new release, they usually come from smaller teams. Indies have taken it upon themselves to become a guiding light for all of us. Their creations have been nothing short of amazing! However, we don’t really have anything we could call a “AAA” shmup. We do seem to have the next closest thing: Raiden.
Developer: Moss Co.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: Jul 25, 2019
Price: $29.99
Tate: Unfortunately… no. This really needed to have TATE
Raiden V: Director’s Cut is a vertical shmup set in a fictional but real world. It claims to be the original bullet-hell, and after playing it extensively I gotta say that I agree. Raiden V features some intense air combat, coupled with giant bosses and some jaw-dropping transitions between areas.

THE GREAT INTRO CHECKLIST

Right out of the gate, what caught my attention was the intro. The best way I can put this is that it has everything great about shmups in a short video. It has a great track, it has giant enemies, it has ships and it even has pieces of lore I do not understand! Simply amazing!
Most importantly, it is a very accurate portrayal as to what you should expect from the game. Unlike other shmups, Raiden goes all out in the presentation department, with the story taking a mayor role. Another way I can put this, is that it certainly feels like a considerable effort was placed in every element of the game. Raiden V features a level of polish that very few shmups can claim to have.

WELCOME TO THE CUSTOMIZATION STATION

One of Raiden’s strength is the amount of customization you have available for your ship. At the beginning of the game, you can choose between one of 3 different ships: Azuma, Spirit of Dragon and Moulin Rouge. Each of these ships has different stats in terms of attack, defense and speed. They also have their own sub-shot which is always firing along with your main cannon.
On top of selecting a ship, you can arm yourself with 3 out of 9 different weapons. Those 9 weapons are grouped into 3 categories: Vulcan, Laser and Plasma. You can pick, or rather you must pick 1 for each category. The result is a combat style that is unique to you.
During your play throughs, you will encounter several power-up orbs. These orbs will power up each of your weapons up to 10 times! Each of these orbs can be either red, blue or purple depending on the weapon it powers up. The orbs cycle the colors, with an outer dot indicating a timer until it changes colors. This allows you to control which weapon you want to power up, giving you the flexibility to pick your own style or choose a weapon for the occasion.
The best part is that absolutely no power-ups are lost upon death! This means that you are free to retry to your heart's content and play at your own pace. Raiden won't punish you or set you up for failure with an unrecoverable situation.
I didn’t put too much attention into weapon selection at first. I figured it wouldn’t be too relevant, as I would probably just play the entire game with a single weapon, but the advanced scoring mechanics and the rank system were quick to make me second guess my decision.

ACE PILOT

At the core of Raiden V, there are 2 main systems to be aware of: your rank and your flash level. Both of them measure your combat capabilities, although in different ways. Your flash point gauge is a score multiplier that tracks how fast you defeat your enemies. By defeating enemies as soon as possible after spawning, you can earn higher multipliers to increase your flash gauge. By having quick kills, you can raise it to higher levels to increase your score. Your rank, on the other hand, only concerns itself with how many enemies you’ve defeated.
Your rank doubles as the deciding factor of which path you will be taking. Raiden features branching paths with an A, B, C or S version of each stage. Depending on your total destruction rate, you will either move up or down in rank after a stage. While I do not know the exact numbers, I believe having more than 98% destruction rate will increase your rank, 90 – 98% will keep it as is and <90% should decrease your rank. S rank stages are presumably harder than A/B/C stages, with C being the lowest.
Apart from having a higher score and challenging yourself with the difficulty, the importance of S rank is getting the true ending. In order to truly watch the ending of the game, you need to reach the final stage on S rank using a single credit. You also need to power up your 3 weapons to level 10. Once you meet those conditions, you will be able to challenge the final boss. Alternatively, you could just fulfill the level 10 weapons condition to fight the true final boss.

THE BEST CHEERLEADER

A new addition to Raiden V is the cheer system. By accomplishing certain in-game milestones like a certain number of enemies destroyed, you will get an achievement. These achievements are broadcasted to any players connected to the leaderboards. They can then “cheer” on your achievement to increase your cheer gauge. This goes both ways, as you can also cheer the achievements of your fellow Raiden players.
Once the cheer gauge is full, you can unleash it to clear the screen and gain a drastically stronger sub-shot. Think of it as a devastating bomb, only more devastating and easier to fill. It clears screens and decimates even the bosses.
Perhaps many people won’t think too much of it, but I found it really interesting to know that there’s someone on the other side celebrating my achievements. Likewise, there were times where I left my game on pause to do other stuff, but held on to my controller to provide support for my comrades.

SWIFT DESTRUCTION

Everything I’ve mentioned before plays out in the general strategy of the game. Assuming you want to get the best results, you need to know where to hit and how to hit hard. For the untrained eye, most shmups just look like games where you fire away with complete disregard and hope the enemy dies. This is definitely not the case in Raiden.
In order to succeed, you must be able to find your rhythm and read the stage. Learn the enemy formations and strategize the quickest kills. Be there before the enemy arrives and take them down before they realize what hit them. If you want to face the true final boss, then you must also learn to juggle your weapons and find the moments to upgrade them. Maxing a weapon and then switching is a recipe for disaster, as you don’t want to be on the later stages with a level one weapon and risk your flash level or destruction rate. With so many weapons and ship types, your strategy to succeed will be unique to you!

LORE GALORE

One of the main selling points, at least per the game itself, is the story. Raiden V features an extensive story that is fully voiced and occurs as you play the game. This story elements come as the prologue and epilogue scenes, as well as all the events happening mid stage.
As you fly your way to the levels, characters will be advancing the story by having conversations and narrating the current events. The dialogue is available on one of the gadgets located on the right side of the screen. You can read anything you might have missed and even pause to read the on-screen log of events (up to a certain number of events, as the log scrolls to open way for new text).
As for my opinion of the story, I have absolutely no idea of what happened during the game. I played my fair share of runs, but I found it next to impossible to focus on the dialogue while trying my hardest to survive. The voice acting would have been my saving grace, but I found the sound mixing to be the opposite of ideal for listening to dialogue. I even tried lowering the sound effects and BGM to see if I could focus on dialogue to no avail.
The text is also incredibly small when playing on docked mode. It gets even worse when playing handheld.

THE WORST CHEERLEADER

Out of all the voices, Eshiria’s was the one who got on my nerves the most at the beginning. Other than having her role as navigator on the plot, she also critiques your gameplay. In-between stage scenes, she will provide commentary describing your gameplay. She will be quick to point out if you did well, but also if you did poorly. On my early runs, when I was still learning, it would tilt me to listen to her complaining to me about stats I did not understand.
And perhaps, a huge part of my problems was a lack of understanding of the game mechanics. I listened to her complain about my destruction rate without knowing it was about my rank. She also complained about destruction speed without me knowing it was about the flash point.
The problem is that the game never bothered explaining any of its mechanics to me. I really looked around for some sort of tutorial to no avail. I had to resort to 3rd party resources. While that isn’t uncommon, I really don’t like games with obscure mechanics that can’t be discerned in-game.
Once I got better and consistently reach the S levels, I finally started to value her advice. Of course, I wouldn’t count on everyone reaching the same enlightenment as I did. In my opinion, her comments would more often than not add insult to injury. Once again, it’s not really the commentary, it’s the fact that none of what she said made practical sense until I started digging on the wiki.

GADGETS AND THE SCREEN REAL ESTATE

Perhaps the worst omission from Raiden V is the lack of a TATE mode. Vertical shooters don’t really have an excuse to do this, with the existence of add-ons like the flip grip or rotating monitors. Instead, Raiden decided to make the most out of the free space and add several gadgets.
In standard fashion, these gadgets will keep your stats like score, flash level, the dialogue and even hi-score statistics. Your left gadget can even be cycled between the score chart and cheer notification, in-game tips and global statistics. Out of those, the tips are definitely the winners. They do give some important advice, such as staying on top of the guns of the first boss to avoid damage.

NOT A FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD

Every stage is divided into smaller scenes. These scenes serve as a way to catch your breath and tally your score. There’s even a nifty “restart scene” option that allows you to replay a scene. Choosing to restart will deny you the option to upload your score to the leaderboard, but serves as a great way to practice or even “fix” a run to so can get to the true ending.
Every once in a while, the action will pan out and open the way to a bigger stage, with you looking smaller in comparison. I admire the grandioseness of the resulting scenes, but they were also quite impractical. Think about your weapons, the destruction rate and the flash gauge. An extended stage means longer travel distances from side to side. Having a bigger stage means you move slower, which reduces the pacing of the game to a crawl. Reaching enemies quickly becomes a struggle. Worst yet, I’ve counted times where it took me whopping 5 seconds to go from side to side of the stage.

THE OG BULLET HELL

Despite all the fun of blasting enemies quickly to gain flash levels, I gotta say that I found the combat, specifically the bullets, to be lacking in grace. For a game that’s the original bullet hell, most enemy volleys feel like bullet showers. There’s no finesse in them, just a bunch of bullets moving towards you. Dodging them isn’t fun, it’s survival. The problem only gets worse in higher difficulties where the bullets just go faster.
Not all patterns are as bad though. While the vast majority will be just a bunch on increasingly faster bullets thrown at you, some exceptional patterns will show from time to time. As a result, fights tend to be very hit or miss, with both hits and misses being on their respective extremes.
What certainly doesn’t help is that the bullets are very hard to see. As pretty as the backgrounds might be, they are very busy and the quick motion makes them into a blur. Bullets don’t have their characteristic outlines or color palettes to become distinguishable. Some even blend with your own vulcan. The result is a lot of cheap kills caused by intentional obfuscation. It this was their intention, then perhaps I’m being too harsh, but you know visibility is usually one of my pet peeves in shmups.

REPLAYABILITY AND LONGEVITY

As far as game length goes, I consider Raiden V to be one of the longer ones. I was surprised after my first run of the game, as it took me 50+ minutes to complete the campaign. Usually, my baseline for shmups is around half an hour, which made this one almost twice as long. While I’m not fond of longer campaigns, I know a lot of people would certainly be glad to know there is plenty of content.
Of course, playing through the campaign isn’t enough to view the entire game. If you recall, most stages have 4 versions of themselves. Those versions are separated by the ranks: S/A/B/C. This means you would need at least 4 runs to see everything the game has to offer. There’s also 6 different endings to uncover.
Also new to the Director’s Cut edition are 2 bonus levels. These level are slightly different from your typical levels. The bonus missions will challenge you to fight a new boss ir oder to obtain medals. Dealing damage will detach the medals from the boss, allowing you to catch them. Gather enough medals and you will advance to the next phase. Higher medals mean higher ranking. Taking damage will take medals away from you, so surviving continues to be a priority.
Lastly, there is a new boss mission mode that allow you to play “boss rush” missions. These missions have certain conditions, like using a specific weapon or fighting at a specific HP level. The targets are usually 1-3 bosses. Boss mission is a very fun arcadey mode for those who enjoyed the boss fights and want more of them.

SOUND EXCELLENCE

If there’s a factor that merits my highest praise is the sound department. Simply put, the OST is fantastic. The track length syncs perfectly with the stages, and it always fits the mood. I just couldn’t get enough of the OST, and listening to it while writing this review was the recipe for a perfect Sunday! I also got some good coffee that would make the captain proud.
For all the praise the music gets from me, it still is dragged down by the terrible sound mixing. Similarly to the voice acting, I tried to mess with the sound settings to increase the volume and reduce the sound effects, but it still wasn’t enough. The tracks were great but I struggled to listen to them amidst all the explosions. The calm moments were great, as they let me listen to the songs in peace.

LAST WORDS

Raiden is a master class in shmup design for the wrong reasons. Its high points perfectly illustrate how shmups should look and feel. The low points also show what you should NOT do when creating a shmup game. Despite all of this, it all comes down to how fun a game is.
Raiden V is a very fun game. It isn’t different, but it’s certainly very polished. I delivers some levels of quality that are notably absent in the majority of the games. As a concept, I feel like it serves as an example of how current gen shmups should be. The execution fell flat in some regards, but as a whole I was satisfied with the time I spent with the game. It does come with a hefty price tag, so my advice is to check this game out when you find a decent sale. I got mine at -70%.

THE RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Ikaruga
  2. Psyvariar Delta
  3. Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
  4. Devil Engine
  5. Rolling Gunner
  6. Blazing Star
  7. Jamestown+
  8. Raiden V: Director’s Cut
  9. Darius Cozmic Collection Console
  10. Tengai
  11. Steredenn: Binary Stars
  12. Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax
  13. Sky Force: Reloaded
  14. Strikers 1945
  15. Black Paradox
  16. R-Type Dimensions EX
  17. Sine Mora EX
  18. Shikhondo – Soul Eater
  19. Ghost Blade HD
  20. AngerForce: Reloaded
  21. Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
  22. Q-YO Blaster
  23. Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
  24. Pawarumi
  25. Red Death
  26. Task Force Kampas
  27. Switch ‘N’ Shoot
  28. Last Resort (ACA Neogeo)
submitted by AzorMX to u/AzorMX [link] [comments]

[TUTORIAL] How to use Multi-Monitors with Hybrid Graphics Card Intel-Nvidia in notebooks (tried with: Asus Rog Strix G531-GT) - DEBIAN BUSTER

Hello guys! I`m going to do this tutorial because i tried to use multi-monitor in my laptop for a long time and that was a big problem for my case.
This tutorial is for people who have a hybrid graphics card and bumblebee in debian.
My case:
- Rog Strix G531-GT (notebook)
- Intel® UHD Graphics 630
- GTX 1650

So, to it work, first you need to install all the NVIDIA drivers and get it working with the optirun command.
In my case i tried stable nvidia drivers which was Version 418.152, but it have some bugs after install when i tried to configure the xorg.conf file, which when start says something about missing device "mouse0". I reinstall all the debian and tried to use the backports, which have the Version 440.100 (via buster-backports) of nvidia drivers, and it installed well.
#ONLY USE BACKPORTS OR ONLY USE STABLE, DO NOT USE BOTH!
FIRST, VERY IMPORTANT: You should check which driver is okay for you, maybe trying one, if that is good and u dont see "bugs" when trying to configure, use it... In my case 418.152 give me a lot of bugs... i tried 440.100 and it worked ok. If you are using backports, try to download everything at the BACKPORTS, and not the STABLE one! If u are using the STABLE one, continues using the STABLE
To do it, first add the backport repository to /etc/apt/sources.list, which actually is
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-backports main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-backports main contrib non-free

After that, to install linux headers and nvidia-driver do:
- apt update
- apt install -t buster-backports linux-headers-amd64
- apt install -t buster-backports nvidia-driver


Reboot and after that u already have the nvidia-drivers installed, BUT not working because the system dont use the nvidia driver by default. Next step is installation of two packages: bumblebee-nvidia and primus. So now you need to install bumblebee:
- apt install -t buster-backports bumblebee-nvidia primus
- apt install -t buster-backports mesa-utils \you will need the) mesa-utils too for some commands
I didnt need permissions to use the bumblebee commands, but if you need, follow that Post-installation


You may need to blacklist the nouveau drivers, because we are using the nvidia proprietary drivers. To do it, run:
- $ sudo bash -c "echo blacklist nouveau > /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-nvidia-nouveau.conf"
- $ sudo bash -c "echo options nouveau modeset=0 >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-nvidia-nouveau.conf"
then run
- $ cat /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-nvidia-nouveau.conf
And the output should be like that:
blacklist nouveau
options nouveau modeset=0
The nouveau drivers are blacklisted successfully!


Now we have a lot of configurations to do.
The next thing to do is go to /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf and open with nano.
add - Driver=nvidia
it should looks like:
# Configuration file for Bumblebee. Values should **not** be put between quotes ## Server options. Any change made in this section will need a server restart # to take effect. [bumblebeed] # The secondary Xorg server DISPLAY number VirtualDisplay=:8 # Should the unused Xorg server be kept running? Set this to true if waiting # for X to be ready is too long and don't need power management at all. KeepUnusedXServer=false # The name of the Bumbleblee server group name (GID name) ServerGroup=bumblebee # Card power state at exit. Set to false if the card shoud be ON when Bumblebee # server exits. TurnCardOffAtExit=false # The default behavior of '-f' option on optirun. If set to "true", '-f' will # be ignored. NoEcoModeOverride=false # The Driver used by Bumblebee server. If this value is not set (or empty), # auto-detection is performed. The available drivers are nvidia and nouveau # (See also the driver-specific sections below) Driver=nvidia # Directory with a dummy config file to pass as a -configdir to secondary X XorgConfDir=/etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.d # Xorg binary to run XorgBinary=/uslib/xorg/Xorg ## Client options. Will take effect on the next optirun executed. [optirun] # Acceleration/ rendering bridge, possible values are auto, virtualgl and # primus. Bridge=auto # The method used for VirtualGL to transport frames between X servers. # Possible values are proxy, jpeg, rgb, xv and yuv. VGLTransport=proxy # List of paths which are searched for the primus libGL.so.1 when using # the primus bridge PrimusLibraryPath=/uslib/x86_64-linux-gnu/primus:/uslib/i386-linux-gnu/primus # Should the program run under optirun even if Bumblebee server or nvidia card # is not available? AllowFallbackToIGC=false # Driver-specific settings are grouped under [driver-NAME]. The sections are # parsed if the Driver setting in [bumblebeed] is set to NAME (or if auto- # detection resolves to NAME). # PMMethod: method to use for saving power by disabling the nvidia card, valid # values are: auto - automatically detect which PM method to use # bbswitch - new in BB 3, recommended if available 

After that, go to /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nouveau and open with nano.
add - BusID "", ex. BusID "PCI:00:02:0" in the Section "Device" \ to see the ID of your graphic cards, run in console: lspci | egrep 'VGA|3D')
it should looks like:
# Configuration file for Bumblebee. Values should **not** be put between quotes ## Server options. Any change made in this section will need a server restart # to take effect. [bumblebeed] # The secondary Xorg server DISPLAY number VirtualDisplay=:8 # Should the unused Xorg server be kept running? Set this to true if waiting # for X to be ready is too long and don't need power management at all. KeepUnusedXServer=false # The name of the Bumbleblee server group name (GID name) ServerGroup=bumblebee # Card power state at exit. Set to false if the card shoud be ON when Bumblebee # server exits. TurnCardOffAtExit=false # The default behavior of '-f' option on optirun. If set to "true", '-f' will # be ignored. NoEcoModeOverride=false # The Driver used by Bumblebee server. If this value is not set (or empty), # auto-detection is performed. The available drivers are nvidia and nouveau # (See also the driver-specific sections below) Driver=nvidia # Directory with a dummy config file to pass as a -configdir to secondary X XorgConfDir=/etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.d # Xorg binary to run XorgBinary=/uslib/xorg/Xorg ## Client options. Will take effect on the next optirun executed. [optirun] # Acceleration/ rendering bridge, possible values are auto, virtualgl and # primus. Bridge=auto # The method used for VirtualGL to transport frames between X servers. # Possible values are proxy, jpeg, rgb, xv and yuv. VGLTransport=proxy # List of paths which are searched for the primus libGL.so.1 when using # the primus bridge PrimusLibraryPath=/uslib/x86_64-linux-gnu/primus:/uslib/i386-linux-gnu/primus # Should the program run under optirun even if Bumblebee server or nvidia card # is not available? AllowFallbackToIGC=false # Driver-specific settings are grouped under [driver-NAME]. The sections are # parsed if the Driver setting in [bumblebeed] is set to NAME (or if auto- # detection resolves to NAME). # PMMethod: method to use for saving power by disabling the nvidia card, valid # values are: auto - automatically detect which PM method to use # bbswitch - new in BB 3, recommended if available # switcheroo - vga_switcheroo method, use at your own risk # none - disable PM completely # https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee/wiki/Comparison-of-PM-methods ## Section with nvidia driver specific options, only parsed if Driver=nvidia [driver-nvidia] # Module name to load, defaults to Driver if empty or unset KernelDriver=nvidia PMMethod=auto # colon-separated path to the nvidia libraries LibraryPath=/uslib/x86_64-linux-gnu/nvidia:/uslib/i386-linux-gnu/nvidia:/uslib/x86_64-linux-gnu:/uslib/i386-linux-gnu # comma-separated path of the directory containing nvidia_drv.so and the # default Xorg modules path XorgModulePath=/uslib/nvidia,/uslib/xorg/modules XorgConfFile=/etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia # If set to true, will always unload the kernel module(s) even with # PMMethod=none - useful for newer Optimus models on which the kernel power # management works out of the box to power the card on/off without bbswitch. AlwaysUnloadKernelDriver=false ## Section with nouveau driver specific options, only parsed if Driver=nouveau [driver-nouveau] KernelDriver=nouveau PMMethod=auto XorgConfFile=/etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nouveau 

Do the same in /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia, and put the ID of the Discrete Nvidia Card.
add - BusID ""
add - Option "AllowEmptyInitialConfiguration" "true"
and at the END of the file, add
Section "Screen" Identifier "Screen0" Device "DiscreteNVidia" EndSection 
it should look like:
Section "ServerLayout" Identifier "Layout0" Option "AutoAddDevices" "true" Option "AutoAddGPU" "false" EndSection Section "Device" Identifier "DiscreteNvidia" Driver "nvidia" VendorName "NVIDIA Corporation" # If the X server does not automatically detect your VGA device, # you can manually set it here. # To get the BusID prop, run `lspci | egrep 'VGA|3D'` and input the data # as you see in the commented example. # This Setting may be needed in some platforms with more than one # nvidia card, which may confuse the proprietary driver (e.g., # trying to take ownership of the wrong device). Also needed on Ubuntu 13.04. BusID "PCI:01:00:0" # Setting ProbeAllGpus to false prevents the new proprietary driver # instance spawned to try to control the integrated graphics card, # which is already being managed outside bumblebee. # This option doesn't hurt and it is required on platforms running # more than one nvidia graphics card with the proprietary driver. # (E.g. Macbook Pro pre-2010 with nVidia 9400M + 9600M GT). # If this option is not set, the new Xorg may blacken the screen and # render it unusable (unless you have some way to run killall Xorg). Option "ProbeAllGpus" "false" Option "AllowEmptyInitialConfiguration" "true" Option "NoLogo" "true" Option "UseEDID" "true" # Option "UseDisplayDevice" "none" EndSection Section "Screen" Identifier "Screen0" Device "DiscreteNVidia" EndSection 
REBOOT NOW, IS IMPORTANT!!


At this point, the TEST for bumblebee should be working!
Test
Install mesa-demos and use glxgears to test if if Bumblebee works with your Optimus system:
$ optirun glxgears -info
If it fails, try the following commands:
64 bit system:
$ optirun glxspheres64
32 bit system:
$ optirun glxspheres32
If the window with animation shows up, Optimus with Bumblebee is working.
Note: If glxgears failed, but glxspheresXX worked, always replace "glxgears" with "glxspheresXX" in all cases.
If the bumblebee still not working, you should look why isnt it working. You can ask me maybe i can help with some information! I tried a lot of things and maybe i can help.
now finally, you can run anything with the optirun command, like: optirun virtualbox... or optirun (a game) and it will work with you graphic card.
But still, when you connect a monitor at the HDMI output, the monitor will not work...
For that, finnaly, we can do that:
To use multi monitors, we need to see this section, which is what happen to me: Output wired to the NVIDIA chip
At this point, you may need to configure the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf
and /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia, as it says in the tutorial. After that reboot your system and try again the command: optirun intel-virtual-output
It should finally works, if you have connected another monitor in HDMI output and try the command optirun intel-virtual-output, it will start in the monitor a continuation for the X session, which works pretty well!!

Well, that was hard to do for me, and i hope that information can help someone. If something is confusing or you cant do the second monitor work, just type in comments, i will try to help...

One important thing to do is: do not try to use xorg.conf file, just delete it and keep the linux to do it by itself. Every time which i tried to use the xorg.conf file it broke my gnome startup and i need to start debian in recovery mode and go to /etc/X11, and run rm -R xorg.conf (which delete the xorg file), or rename it to the linux do not read the informations there.
#TIPS: For a good use of that, you can go to debian keyboard configuration, and configure a new shortcut with the command optirun intel-virtual-output.
When you press ctrl+alt+y that will start the second monitor for you :D
https://preview.redd.it/3luethknnfj51.png?width=987&format=png&auto=webp&s=a7eaf1a4c029237fd9b25ca0194c99d84fcb83a5
so that is #learning_with_linux
thanks

https://preview.redd.it/8g753mxelfj51.jpg?width=4032&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1d24f618dcd3bb92a760a531112e5e3852e524d5
submitted by MrMineToons to debian [link] [comments]

Raven Reviews: IxSHE Tell Part 1, The Mechanics of a Book.

TL;DR I review the novel without talking about the plot.
A FRIENDLY DISAGREEMENT
Recently I had a discussion with a stranger on a forum who was adamantly apposed to what he called "Harem Games" and novels that featured harem elements. To recount the whole conversation would take pages and wouldn't be entirely relevant to this review but i'd like to summarize two key points he expressed to me that informed his opinion. The first is that Japanese society, and even American society, is not supportive of a man having multiple partners. While I was able to get him to admit that recent years have seen a rise in polyamory in the United States he remained adamant that any form of harem was unrealistic for the culture. Secondly, he expressed an opinion that mechanically and from a game design perspective harem routs were a "copout" because they are very rarely the true route or most naturally feeling resolution to a story and only exist for people who quote "Feel bad for the girls they rejected even though most of the time that would be better for them and they're okay with it!" He would go on to say that Japanese views on romance are incompatible with harems because of their focus on "firsts" and "being someones only" but being someone who is not native Japanese myself and has only experienced their culture through works like the subject of this review I can't say I'm able to talk about that point much. I feel like VNs portray an idealized version of Japanese culture just like American media does and just like I wouldn't say someone who was seen every episode of any three american sitcoms knows American culture I would not say I know Japanese culture from reading VNs.
Out of respect for his privacy I'm not going to name him here but if by some chance you're reading this stranger I spoke to this review will serve as my response to the summery of your points. While I know you're aware I disagree with you, I want to provide a better example then simply listing novels I though were good as I did in our original discussion. As I am well aware however that providing my response like this, if it were to miraculously reach you, is somewhat unfair since you have no good platform to respond with outside of a comment below please feel free to DM me and I will gladly respond. This review will be addressed to a wider audience obviously but I think it will be easy to tell what parts I have drawn from the information you gave me.
"BEST HAIR" CHOICE STRUCTURE
IxSHE Tell is a recently translated romantic comedy about P-kun (Ninomiya Hajime) and his difficult choice between five girls who confess to him one after the other. That plot synopsis may have drawn up some negative connotations for you but I encourage you to judge this story on its own merits because I was also skeptical but pleasantly surprised with the quality of the work presented. The novel is split in three parts. A lengthy prologue that takes somewhere between an hour and two hours to read. A common route of about fifteen hours, and then individual romance paths for each heroine that are about three hours long apiece. This clocks the total novel read time at about thirty hours but I would imagine a fast reader could finish it in twenty if they choose to. My personal time to completion is skewed slightly longer as I'm a masochist who wouldn't feel satisfied without being certain I've seen every possible line of dialog but I can't imagine this novel taking more the forty or forty five hours for the slowest reader. While their are a number of gimmicks in this novel I will discuss below without the H-patch the game makes the bold choice to provide the player with only a single meaningful choice and thereby creates a unique atmosphere I can't say I've ever experienced before.
Anyone who has read more then one or two visual novels will know that commonly the narrative choices are less then open to a reader pursuing more then one heroine. I hesitate to say common structure punishes readers for choosing options favorable to more then one romance route but it certainly discourages it. To explain what I mean lets take a look at a few examples. Muv-Luv, specifically Muv-Luv Extra, has a difficult to unlock "Bad" ending where if the reader favors a specific heroine but fails to choose her options in one of a few specific scenes the game ends abruptly without satisfyingly concluding. Their is also a second "Bad" end which occurs only if the player makes two specific choices, both of which are little more then rejections of the branch path to romance routes. Effectively, failure to fully pursue one of the game's heroines results in the game ending in its second act, but paradoxically while the game has two dozen or so choices any combination of those options will result in a romance route and "good" end so long as the reader chooses the appropriate option at one of the deciding points. IMHHW by contrast has a failure route you can only trigger by selecting one specific option in one specific scene that is obviously the wrong choice and then locks you into a route shortly after. I actually think one of the most enjoyable jokes I can find in a VN is finding the path that lets you spend the least amount of time with a heroine but still puts you on her romance path, then watching as P-kun trips over himself to explain how he fell in love with her instead of the girl he spent most of the last week with. Unfortunately though I can rarely do this without failing out before the final act because of this exact type of choice structure.
Some novels are more subtle about this lack of choice. Katawa Shoujo comes to mind as even at its worse you do have SOME free will to jump ship to a different heroine mid act but the binary choice between Lilly and Shizune never sat well with me and Emi being a one choice lock is just disappointing. While not every novel is blatant enough to go the Muv-Luv route and literally name the heroines in the choices so its impossible to miss who you're siding with its a rare treat to find a novel that doesn't spell out which options are the "right" ones to some degree. This brings me back to IxST because the design choice to make only one choice truly relevant, which I would call a weakness in any other novel, but replacing "Best Hair" choices with a gold star reward system opens the narrative and allows for a more natural and less pressured experience.
REAL CHOICE
This section might not be entirely 100% necessary but I wanted to break down exactly why I think the mechanics of this VN are so revolutionary and vastly superior to the rest of the genre. Honestly, while I know it wouldn't fit every novel I think future VNs would benefit greatly from this example. So the common route in IxST is divided into 5 subsections the novel labels as "days" but are probably better thought of as plot beats. Each subsection allows the reader to assign up to ten "hearts" in any combination to the five girls pursuing P-kun and with one major exception allows this to happen at any time. In the words of the games tutorial paraphrased, if a girl does something you like you can reward her with a heart. You're under no obligation to hand out hearts and can ignore the system all together if you choose but regardless at the end of each plot event you are prompted to select a girl for an extra scene and are then moved to the next plot beat with a new allotment of hearts. At the end of the last subsection if you overwhelmingly favored one girl with hearts over the others P-kun falls for that girl and you have the option to accept her confession. But even at this point you have the option to change your mind and pick another girl who will give you one final pitch about why you should choose them before giving you yet ANOTHER chance to back out and commit to the girl you favored.
Maybe the weight of how much this changes the feel of reading a VN isn't clear so lets do a comparison. Muv-Luv Extra isn't a great novel, certainly not terrible but it's about as average as I could hope to find. Their is no other single VN to me that is as aggressively 5/10 as Muv-Luv Extra. Placing it beside IxST both games have a prologue introducing their respective flavors of P-kun and follow it with an intro movie. I know i'm vastly oversimplifying things as the prologues to these two stories are nothing alike but mechanically they have no difference so the important part is that when the common route starts the reader is mentally in the same place. In IxST the player is almost immediately presented with all the choice mechanic they will be interacting with for the next three or so hours of the novel in the form of the heart system. Muv-Luv by contrast spends its opening to the common route with one of the five heroins and less then half an hour into the experience presents the first choice which is a binary question of if you enjoyed yourself with her. Unless you are brand new to visual novels you will know immediately that Muv-Luv's choice should give you pause because without even letting you meet four of the five romance options you are already having to make a choice that you have no way of knowing the significance of. While not all novels do this it's not uncommon for a visual novel to soft lock out of a route when you don't get every choice for a heroine correct and so this small moment to a first time reader can feel needlessly stressful because choosing one option may lock you on one path for the narrative and the other may permanently lock you out of it without telling you either result for HOURS.
In roughly the same time a reader will make their way through IxST's first section of common route to the extra scene choice that same reader in Muv-Luv will likely have to make two additional choices if not more all of which are binary "Best Hair" choices encouraging the reader to pursue one of the five heroines hours before the common route ends. This almost makes the choices irrelevant as the reader is primed to select whichever option continues the path their on and discourages them from picking the option they would prefer over the option that is more likely to result in a "good" end. Now to be fair IxST does not communicate to the reader that who they pick for the extra scene is not a soft lock but even if we assume the reader is ignoring the hearts and has already selected which romance route they want to shoot for the hearts system tutorial screen and the extra scene tutorial are definitely geared toward the opposite priming. Every girl is available to be chosen no mater how few hearts you gave her and this ties neatly into the games presentation. The cross view system that temporarily takes away the hearts counters and allows the reader to experience short scenes with each girl further primes the reader to the idea that no matter their choice at this stage the narrative will continue without soft locking. To summarize Muv-Luv and its traditional use of choices makes its narrative feel like the choices exist as a quiz of "what would this girl like me to do?" IxST and its heart system feel like you are organically favoring the girl or girls you enjoy and presents everyone with an equal chance for you to grow attached to them.
THE PROBLEM WITH COMMON ROUTES
I have another review in the works explaining why I dislike the presentation of most common routes using IMHHW as an example but I'll summarize my points here so I can explain how much better IxST is at getting a reader to seriously consider all the heroines as potential options then a traditional visual novel. Everyone knows their are certain types of characters that feature heavily in visual novels and to an extent has their preferences. Class Representatives, lolis, little sisters etc are all common starting points for heroines. I personally tend to dislike Tsunderes and have a preference for childhood friends but that's just me. Common routes ideally should follow four basic rules but often fail to uphold them.
1.) The common route should introduce but NOT develop characters only important in one or two romance routes and should involve background characters as much as possible while developing the heroines.
2.) The common route should develop each heroine equally and if possible should provide them with as close to equal screen time as feasible.
3.) The common route should have a reason for existing outside of developing characters and this reason should not be resolved before the romance routes begin unless those routes have their own conflict.
4.) The common route should have just as many CGs as the individual romance routes if not more and showcase each heroine evenly in them.
I came up with these rules because the entire reason a common route exists is to allow the reader to familiarize themselves with the world and characters and specifically the heroines. If it fails to accomplish that then what was the point of having it? IMHHW happens to fail at ALL of these rules but that's a topic for another day. Let me know in the comments if you're interested in that review and I'll push it up the list. However before I explain why IxST does so well by following these guidelines let me explain my reasoning for each.
Rule one recognizes that visual novels need characters other then the protagonist and heroines to feel believable, otherwise the world feels empty and flat. These characters come in three flavors. Background, Side, and Spriteless. Background characters are things like the protagonists best friend or their teacher, definitely important people with a role in the narrative but not romance options. Ideally background characters should be introduced in the prologue to establish their personality and due to their development typically remaining static involved as much as possible with the character in the common route so that by the time the romance routes are reached they can serve their narrative purpose without taking away from the heroine. We should know everything important about them before the half way mark so they can be used and referenced easily as needed. A perfect example is Mikoto in Muv-Luv Extra, who is introduced about a quarter of the way through the game and has basically finished his development by the half way point. Side characters are the opposite, and should be developed in romance routes after being introduced in the common route. A good example here is if a heroine has a little sister, although not every little sister character is like this in general this example works. Ideally, the reader should know the heroine has a little sister and be introduced to her sprite but this is only to allow her to be expanded on in the romance route later so that each run of the game feels unique. Just like in real life growing closer to people means your circle of friends shifts and its more interesting to a reader to have to work to know every character in the game then to always have that information from the beginning. The last category of Spriteless are small time or single use characters that well, don't have a sprite. I might come back in a future review and talk about this group but they don't bear much relevance to the current topic so I'm going to move on.
The second rule is pretty self explanatory but to be thorough one of the greatest sins a common route can commit is focusing on one character over the others. Yes, I am aware that some novels have "true" ends that are meant to advance a larger story. Yes, I am also aware that in real life it is very unlikely people you only see at school or work or whatever will have an equal amount of exposure to you as people you've been friends with for years or who you have class with. None of those things matter in a novel. The author has the ability to portray each character evenly even if the protagonist does not have an even amount of interaction with each character. The thing about real life and realism is that life is often incredibly boring. I have yet to see a novel that forced me to sit through every class period the protagonist experienced, because that would be excruciating. I also don't have to wait six hours for the protagonist to wake up after going to sleep nor witness every bite of breakfast every day. This isn't a question of what is realistic this is a question of allowing the reader to get a decent understanding of the characters. This doesn't always mean they are given literally to the second the same amount of dialogue and screen time, but a good common route will let each heroine have an equal time to shine without favoring any of them.
The third rule is the one I most often see broken and as such has become my personal most important of the four. I am far more willing to forgive a novel that can follow this rule, even if it isn't for every run, then i am a novel that can not. I have no problems with slice of life narratives. It can sometimes be incredibly cathartic to just drop into the shoes of someone else and pretend to be them for a day. But stories do not exist without conflict and no, choosing which girl you like is not sufficient conflict for the story unless the protagonist is just as concerned about it as you are. Ideally, a novel's conflict should involve all the characters though that's rather difficult so settling for just the protagonist and heroins is fine. The conflict should also have enough leeway to be solved in multiple ways so that each heroines route can provide their own solution. How a heroine uniquely resolves conflict or avoids it is a huge opportunity to squander by ignoring the inclusion of a story.
The fourth rule is most concerned with creating a balanced feeling to the novel and has less to do with the common route specifically then it does with the novel as a whole but I tend to include it here because well, it just makes since. Obviously the romance routes are going to have a higher density of CGs then the common route. If you include extra scenes and optional scenes as part of a heroine's run rather then common route content that rule is doubly true. However this doesn't mean that the common route is totally devoid of CGs because that is obviously not the case. Most VNs use the prologue as an excuse to give each heroine an opening CG but the common route is where the majority of group shots and for lack of a better term "casual" scenes allow the artists to showcase each heroine outside of their static sprites. If you've read the other rules explanations you may have noticed that I haven't elaborated on the notion that the common route's main goal is to make the heroine's interesting to the reader and I've saved that point for this moment because outside of their sprites, which are a vital part of a heroine's ability to express themselves, CGs are the most important facet to letting these characters "breath." If you've ever listened to the dialogue in a visual novel without looking at the screen (Admittedly you'd have to know at least a bit of Japanese to do this but lets just assume you have the bare minimum understanding of what the characters are saying.) its actually really hard to distinguish each heroine's personality purely off the words they say. Maybe we don't often think about it but this genre is not just tied to its visual element it is at this point utterly undivorcable from it because it has come to rely on tropes and ideas that repeat themselves so often they tend to blur. How many visual novels have heroines that are constantly getting "shy" or "flustered?" How many use the same literal words like Segoi, Baka, Hentii, to describe things? Language is both endlessly expressive and limiting and even the best VNs, perhaps ESPECIALLY the best, would make TERRIBLE novels if they were printed as is in the form of a paperback. The entire reason for CGs even existing is to play off established tropes and the story to give the reader a snapshot of why the moment they are currently reading is significant and unique, and in a romance novel that more often then not translates to why the heroine is significant and unique. Neglecting this visual element therefore is a huge disservice to the the reader.
MERGING THE IDEAS
Having said all that IxST uses its unique choice system to facilitate a change in the reader's approach to reading and thus makes itself vastly more enjoyable. This novel could have so easily been nothing more then a self insert fantasy about being pursued by multiple women but because it encourages you to engage with every line of dialogue and spread your focus between all of the characters the story feels fresh and different. The last major choice mechanic I have to mention in IxST, the cross view system, is the epitome of this because while I do have problems with some of the scenes I'll talk about in part 2 of this review the fact it's the only time you can't access the hearts menu was a stroke of genius.
Cross view occurrences are once per subsection of the common route and present you with six to nine short scenes involving characters not in P-kun's immediate vicinity talking about or thinking about him. Their is always one scene for each of the heroines but most of the background characters get one each go around as well as usually a scene from the perspective of a random nameless classmate. These scenes are 100% optional but choosing not to read them is a real disservice because letting yourself get into the mindset of the heroins and characters really fleshes out their actions and puts context to the events that happen toward the end of each subsection. I think you'd really miss out if you skipped them. What elevates them for me though is the fact that since you can't access the hearts menu you're forced to think about the scenes for a longer period of time before immediately rewarding the heroines with a heart. By the time you get the menu back you may feel compelled to hand out two or three of your ten points and that choice is a really good moment to sit and consider how you actually feel about each of the characters. If you haven't been interested in one of the girls but their inner thoughts persuaded you they mean well or vise versa then these moments of returned choice can really shake up who you favor for the eventual act three. It feels like i'm praising this game for taking away my options during these sections, because I am, but that's only because you have such freedom everywhere else you become hyper aware and observant when it's scaled back.
Going back to the common route rules above this altered mindset falls perfectly in line with fulfilling those goals. Because the reader also cross views background characters to get their perspective they get to relegate development in the main story away from interactions with the protagonist and still fulfill the requirement they be showcased. Because each heroine always has a cross fade section each of them gets a roughly equal amount of time to win over a reader and because they have this extra time they can have more interesting personal conflicts that carry over to their romance routes while the main plot focuses on P-kun's struggles.
A RESPONSE TO A DIFFERENT POINT
I want to wrap up this first part of my review by addressing why I think "harem" games are uniquely suited to have better, more developed experiences then equal surface quality novels. IxST would not have worked as a story if the protagonist had been the one to confess to the heroines. I don't mean it would have just been different I mean the structure of this game and what made it so interesting and special would have been worthless if that one detail were changed. The choice system of IxST only works because all options are treated equally and never pull the reader too far in one direction. The mindset of someone who is balancing a relationship with five people is fundamentally different from pursuing one out of five. I can't make it any clearer then that, reading this VN is just fundamentally different because the atmosphere is different.
Am I saying ALL harem games are like this? Absolutely not. Especially those that have the harem route as an option but clearly do not focus on it or worse work like Harem Party where harem means nothing more then the Echii scenes keep changing girls. But I am saying its easier to break out of the mindset visual novels often fall into where you can only pursue one girl at a time and regardless of what the context of the situation is you should always pick the option that girl will like or be punished for it. The quote that really stuck with me from my conversation referenced in the intro above was "I can never get invested in the characters because they treat everyone the same."
I didn't say it at the time but isn't that a good thing? Do you WANT the characters to be inherently unequal? Everyone has their kinks and this is a kinky kinky genre you're allowed to pick favorites based upon what you like but doesn't it stand to reason that if you're reading a novel and one character is favored over another that the person who likes that unfavored character is going to wish they had been treated more equally? That's to say nothing about the fact that every novel is someones first and if a brand new VN reader gets hold of this story don't you want them to have a fair representation of the different character types? Isn't the entire point of having options to be able to explore them unbiased? If you really wanted to pursue just one type of character then their are dozens of novels with only one heroine, admittedly far less then their are with several choices but it's not like they don't exist! Now if the novel is poorly written and the characters have to all share two or three personality traits then yeah fine you have a point there but that's not the harems fault that's just a bad novel in general.
I can't say I'm a "fan" of harem VNs, I think I own maybe five total that could even plausibly count out of a sizable collection but I can't deny that problems I constantly complain about in other VNs are at worse absent in the sub-genre and at worst have active solutions like in IxST that I feel NEED to be praised. I don't feel comfortable writing off these stories because "One man can't possibly satisfy five girls." His words not mine.
WHY I CHOOSE TO SPLIT THIS REVIEW
Well for starters i'm already going far over what I think is reasonable for a single post and haven't even TOUCHED on the actual game's story but more importantly I think my opinion on the VN itself and the mechanics of the game are two separate things. I'll be clear and say I do like IxST, in fact it might crack my top 15, but I have a lot more to say about its narrative then I do about this topic so I decided it would be best to segregate the two ideas. Next week I'll be posting my views on the story, characters, music, art, and my overall opinion with a few extras thrown in. I expect it will end up being even longer then part 1 so be prepared for that I guess. I'm interested to see which of these two parts do better overall so if you liked what you read consider showing some support. I'll consider your updoot to be a substitute for a heart. This is my fourth review in this series so I'm still full of ideas but if these longer reviews do well I might consider moving to a slower release schedule to be sure I can be more detailed. Let me know what you think and if you agree with my points or the stranger I argued against. Stay well everyone!
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THE SEARCH FOR THE GREATEST SHMUP: EPISODE 27 – Darius Cozmic Collection Console

This is it. We have finally managed to reach the shmup that started it all. The one shmup I played before any other and which inspired me to devote my time to the genre. It isn’t the best Darius game by any means, but it is certainly the one closest to my heart. We are finally reviewing Super Nova!
Ok, maybe we’re not just reviewing Super Nova. We are going to be taking a look at the entire Console Cozmic Collection and seeing how it stacks up against the Arcade Collection. They say console ports are usually downgraded versions, but will it also be the case here?
Publisher: ININ Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: Jun 16, 2020
Price: $59.99
Tate: Please don’t use your flip grip on this one
The Darius Cozmic Collection Console is a compilation of Darius games released on consoles. This port was also developed by the brilliant M2. You can definitely set your expectations on high, because this collections is as high quality as the arcade collection, albeit with some notably absent features.
The titles included in this collection are:

THE BESTEST PORTS ARE M2 PORTS

If you read my review for the Arcade Collection, then you know what to expect from this collection. Each of the 9 included games feature a wonderful wrapping of quality of life enhancements as well as customization options.
Each title can be accessed from a main menu that features a museum style listing for each game. When highlight a game, you will be presented with an image of the title screen and a brief description of the game on its right. I found the descriptions extremely helpful when deciding which game to play. Having several versions of the same game is great for collection purposes, but the descriptions provided some much needed guidance.
While in-game, you can pull a special menu at any point by pressing ZR or ZL. This menu lets you customize several aspects of a game, such as the controls and the visuals. Just as the arcade collection, you can set your controllers to map buttons to be fire+bomb and even adjust the rapid fire setting. The visuals have less options, but staples such as the display type and scanlines are available. The “other” tab is quite lacking, as it only has the volume setting.
It wouldn’t be much emulation without some save states! Each game has a quick save option which lets you save your current state in one of 12 different slots. The saving and loading process is very smooth, and it doesn’t take any time at all to load any given state. Unlike the arcade collection, there are no ranking penalties for using save states. Rather than being a good thing, it mostly relates to a lack of rankings, but more on that later.

THE MISSING FEATURES

Whereas the arcade collection felt like a love letter to the arcade culture, the console collection lacks a lot of the charm. It’s in part understandable due the nature of consoles not being as flashy as arcades. I don’t mean to say that the work in this collection is lacking in comparison, it’s just that in general arcades had much more going on.
One of my highlights in the arcade collection was my introduction to Darius I with controller vibration in sync to the music. Sound and vibration fanfares were not available on console because there is no such thing as coin operated credits. As a result, rumble is completely absent in this collection.
All of the gadgets are missing from this edition as well. Rather than getting the art of the arcade panels or useful information, all the console collection gets is a background. When looking at both collections side by side, the console collection like extremely empty, as you only have the game screen and nothing else. The only exception is Darius Alpha, which has a boss gadget on the right side of the screen.

THE LONG LOST GAME CHANGERS

To the detriment of gameplay, some of the more useful gadgets won’t be making a return. Losing the boss analyzer and life gauges is rough, but pales in comparison to losing your arm counter. Other than relying on in-game visuals, you no longer have additional graphics showing arm strength, weapon strength or even bonus score counters.
Another addition I was really fond of was the map/zone overview on the pause screen. Most of the games show the route progression in-game (except for Darius Plus). What is lost is the ability to see the map at any time by pressing ZZL, and even worse is losing the information related to a zone. I really enjoyed knowing how many power-ups were present in a given stage, but I absolutely loved knowing which bosses would appear on which route. My routing decisions have 100% been influenced by fighting cool fishes.
To make matters worse, the replay system has been completely revamped. You can no longer save replays of your playthroughs in most of the main games. Instead, replays are reserved only for the special modes of Darius Alpha, the boss rush of Darius Force and the boss rush of Darius II. While this means there’s still a way to relive some of your greatest moments, it is limited to some modes which pale in comparison to the actual games. Oh yeah, the leaderboards are also limited to the special modes as well.
But enough about the collection, let’s get to the games.

DARIUS II/SAGAIA

Darius II and SAGAIA are ports of the original arcade game into the Mega Drive/Sega Genesis. As with arcade ports, the game had to undergo some changes in order to be playable on consoles. Sprites were redrawn to be smaller, gameplay was adapted to a single screen and co-op had to be removed. Still, it manages to fit the entire Darius II in both versions, as opposed to arcade SAGAIA which was a reduced version.
Just to clarify, Darius II and SAGAIA are the same game. The difference in naming comes from localizing the game to North America.
I’ll be honest, out of all the games in the collection, this was the one I played the least. I don’t mean to say the game isn’t good. My reduced play time comes from the fact that I already played A LOT of Darius II for the arcade collection, so for an in-depth overview I recommend checking out the Arcade Collection review.
However, I did get a couple of full playthroughs and I gotta say that it does a great job at capturing the original game’s essence! Gameplay is essencially untouched, so expect to go through the same all-or-nothing upgrade system, branching paths with Darius II bosses and some wacky endings! One of my thoughts that I have to rehash is that the game is either a cakewalk or extremely brutal depending on your upgrade level. If you keep it maxed, then the game is a breeze. If you fall even once, it’s a very tough hill to climb.

SAGAIA MASTER SYSTEM – THE BUDGET DARIUS

In an odd turn of events, a version of SAGAIA was released for the Sega Master System. For those unfamiliar, the Master System is basically the equivalent of the NES. This game exists because the 8-bit market was still going strong in Europe when it released.
As impressive as it might be to have SAGAIA on an 8-bit console, we have to consider that it had to be downgraded from an already downgraded version. If it sounds rough, it is because the game itself is extremely rough. The framerate is lower, the sprites flicker on screen and the game lags when there are too many sprites on screen.
I found it next to impossible to play this game for long periods of time. It really is hard to justify playing the lesser version when I have better alternatives in this same collection.

DARIUS TWIN

Darius Twin was the first Darius to actually be made for consoles. It isn’t an arcade port or a game adapted from a multiple screen format into a single screen. Darius Twin is a completely original entry, and as such it takes full advantage of the console format for the better!
Out of the box I have to say this: Darius Twin is easily my favorite game on this entire collection. The biggest reason is that this feels like a game that doesn’t try to be a coin sink. Instead, it plays around with the concept of a single credit and balances the game around it. The result is a shmup that feels much more fast paced, but never overwhelming and certainly not one where it’s impossible to repair from death.
In terms of mechanics, it is by all means a Darius game in its fundamentals. Pilot the Silver Hawk through branching paths, collect red/green/blue upgrades and beat the fishes. One distinct difference is that you do not lose your power level on death. Although it doesn’t sound like much, I do believe this is the one difference that greatly improves the experience.
Previous Darius games have felt, to varying degrees, as games that should be played without getting hit or else risk not being able to recover. Since Darius Twin doesn’t have this hindrance, you are always in your best shape and it helps keep the fun going. You do have to be careful, as you respawn without arm, but other than that it’s never a lost cause.

SNES AND SUPER FAMICON

Darius Twin comes in 2 different versions: One for the SNES and the other for the Super Famicon. Unlike other entries, the versions are for the most part the same. The difference is that the SNES version has localization. It also features stereo sound, whereas the SFC version had mono. Although it is nice to have the SFC version, in reality you probably want to play the SNES version all the time. Unless, of course, you want humanity to create weapons made from the bones of its kill instead of wood and rocks.
One of the most surprising aspects about Darius Twin is the sound. I’m unapologetically a SNES fan, so when I heard the game’s OST and sound effects, I felt a wave of nostalgia. The tracks and sounds are very SNES-ish and it is a style that I’m very fond of.
I really encourage everyone to go hard on this game. I really enjoyed it and I think you might share my love if you give it a go! It offers a perfect blend of action and challenge which pushes you to your limits, but is never unfair. As an extra bonus, it features several different endings depending on how many lives you lost, with the best ending being unlocked on a true no death run. Also, once you max your wind slash, don’t pickup the weapon swap.

DARIUS FORCE/ SUPER NOVA

Super Nova is a special game for me. It is the one game I remember seeing on the video store and renting thanks to the cool box art. The first stage is a memory I can vividly remember. The first enemy waves, the trilobyte miniboss, the boss theme and even his name: Biohazard.
As a side note, to this day I don’t really know who is the boss on the Super Nova box art. Judging by how long it is, it might be Peace Destroyer, but I’m not really sure.
Darius Force was released after Darius Twin. It certainly has console gaming in mind, but it draws several gameplay elements from arcade Darius. Sadly, they brought my least favorite: the checkpoint system. Dying in Darius Force has to be one of the most disappointing experiences. Upon death, the screen blacks out and you are taken back to the last checkpoint you crossed. Your beam and bombs are reset to level one, although you keep your arm upgrade levels.
It’s also the first game to feature bosses other than marine organisms. Expect to see prehistoric creatures and dinosaurs.
To counter balance the checkpoint system, Darius Force is much more generous on the power-ups. After returning to a checkpoint, you are always treated to a beam and arm power-up. A level 2 beam is quite a downgrade, but at least you get an arm to claw your way back into the game.

A TRIBUTE TO THE CLASSICS

One of the new features of Darius Force is the ability to choose your ship. At the beginning, you are given a choice of 3 different models of the Silver Hawk. The green Hawk is based on Darius I and has the wave upgrade path. The blue Hawk is based on Darius II with the napalm beam. Finally, the red Hawk is an original ship.
Another change is the fact that beam and bombs upgrade together. There are 8 different upgrade levels, with your main beam switching fire type until its final form. Collecting a red power-up will upgrade both of them 1 level. As mentioned before, dying will set you back to level 1, so it becomes crucial to stay alive once you reach level 8. A neat change is that, for the first time, you can switch your bomb type between bomb and laser. Bombs will deal more damage, while laser will go through weak enemies.
The merger of beam and bombs also has a neat strategic implication. For one, you can no longer freely shoot your beam in tandem with your bombs. If you attempt to press both buttons at once, you will fire a downgraded version of both the beam and bombs. This means you need to be more mindful of whether you want the power of your beam or the power of your bombs.

INTENTIONAL WEAKNESS

Luckily, downgrading your weapons might actually be a desirable outcome. For me, the middle levels of the green Hawk were too awkward to use, as they were piercing lasers. By pressing both buttons, I was able to revert to the trusty spread shot until my level was high enough to bypass the beam in favor of the wave shot. If you think about it, the laser is a lot like puberty. No one really likes puberty, but it is an important transition phase we can totally avoid by firing and bombing.
Darius Force includes an extra boss rush mode that was previously accessible with a special code. Rather than needing complicated button inputs, the boss rush mode can be directly accessed when choosing Darius Force from the main menu (not available for Super Nova). It is also one of the few modes which have been blessed replays and leaderboards.

DARIUS PLUS/ DARIUS ALPHA

Finally rounding up the collection are the PC titles. You can think of them as parallel universe versions of the main game.
Darius Plus is a “lite” version of Super Darius, which itself is a souped up version of the original Darius. So you can think of it as just a port of Darius on a single screen format.
As a port of Darius, it has all the levels you are familiar with, while boasting 16 different bosses. The rest of the gameplay is straight up Darius, with the notable exception being that the action is reduced to a single screen instead of having 3.
In terms of where I stand on Darius Plus as a game, I gotta say it is fun but a straight up worse version. The game doesn’t look as clean as the arcade version and the sound is also worse. I also feel like the levels are longer, or perhaps it’s just the screen reduction making levels seem longer than they should be. One thing for sure, is that the gameplay feels dragged on to the point of feeling boring at times. There are sequences that felt like they repeat endlessly until you reached the end of the stage.
The one thing it’s got going over the its original arcade counter part is the 1cc gameplay. Rather than being able to pump credits endlessly, Darius Plus plays on a single credit and is balanced around that as a result. One particular change that makes me happy is that you don’t return to a checkpoint upon dying.
This game exists to remind me how much I hate the laser on the original Darius.

DARIUS ALPHA: THE BOSS RUSH: THE GAME

Finally we have Darius Alpha, the compilation of the extra modes. Instead of being an actual game, Darius Alpha is a boss rush against the 16 bosses. Just like Plus, you have a single credit to beat the whole game. Power-ups are automatically acquired in between boss rounds, but the same restrictions as the main game applies. This means that you will lose your power level if you die, up until your latest upgrade.
The selling point of Alpha in this collection is that it has most of the ranking modes for the collection. The extra modes are the following:

LAST WORDS

Out of the gate, I have to say that this is the worse of the 2 collections. The arcade collection has the Darius games in its pure arcade form. Games which stand strong even to this day when it comes to quality. M2 took these games and made them even better with their porting expertise and several love letters to the games. The console collection not only contains downgraded versions, but also lacks some of the finer details that made them great in the first place.
Despite having more games, Darius II/SAGAIA and Darius Plus are basically downgrades of Darius II and Darius I respectively. This leaves us with Darius Twin and Darius Force to carry the collection, and they actually do! Darius Force might not be as fantastic as I remember, it certainly feels slower than I remember, but I did constantly revisit it while creating this piece because it is a very enjoyable game. Darius Twin was the great surprise, as I find it to be my absolute favorite in this collection, and a strong contender to Darius Gaiden in my opinion.
With all that being said, I consider the contents of this collection to be very good, but with a very notable flaw: the price. At $59.99, this collection is a very tough sell. I can’t in good faith recommend it highly, as the same amount of money can purchase several highly rated titles in this list. In fact, it could even get you the arcade collection and the #1 shmup Ikaruga. Still, the quality of the collection is something I can’t deny, so I’ll be weighting that much more than the price in its final ranking.

THE RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Ikaruga
  2. Psyvariar Delta
  3. Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
  4. Devil Engine
  5. Rolling Gunner
  6. Blazing Star
  7. Jamestown+
  8. Darius Cozmic Collection Console
  9. Tengai
  10. Steredenn: Binary Stars
  11. Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax
  12. Sky Force: Reloaded
  13. Strikers 1945
  14. Black Paradox
  15. R-Type Dimensions EX
  16. Sine Mora EX
  17. Shikhondo – Soul Eater
  18. Ghost Blade HD
  19. AngerForce: Reloaded
  20. Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
  21. Q-YO Blaster
  22. Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
  23. Pawarumi
  24. Red Death
  25. Task Force Kampas
  26. Switch ‘N’ Shoot
  27. Last Resort (ACA Neogeo)
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Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers

Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers

Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers
We have compared the best regulated binary options brokers and platforms in May 2020 and created this top list. Every binary options company here has been personally reviewed by us to help you find the best binary options platform for both beginners and experts. The broker comparison list below shows which binary trading sites came out on top based on different criteria.
You can put different trading signals into consideration such as using payout (maximum returns), minimum deposit, bonus offers, or if the operator is regulated or not. You can also read full reviews of each broker, helping you make the best choice. This review is to ensure traders don't lose money in their trading account.
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In order to trade binary options, you need to engage the services of a binary options broker that accepts clients from your country e.g. check US trade requirements if you are in the United States. Here at bitcoinbinaryoptionsreview.com, we have provided all the best comparison factors that will help you select which trading broker to open an account with. We have also looked at our most popular or frequently asked questions, and have noted that these are important factors when traders are comparing different brokers:
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The Regulated Binary Brokers
Regulation and licensing is a key factor when judging the best broker. Unregulated brokers are not always scams, or untrustworthy, but it does mean a trader must do more ‘due diligence’ before trading with them. A regulated broker is the safest option.
Regulators - Leading regulatory bodies include:
  • CySec – The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (Cyprus and the EU)
  • FCA – Financial Conduct Authority (UK)
  • CFTC – Commodity Futures Trading Commission (US)
  • FSB – Financial Services Board (South Africa)
  • ASIC – Australia Securities and Investment Commission
There are other regulators in addition to the above, and in some cases, brokers will be regulated by more than one organization. This is becoming more common in Europe where binary options are coming under increased scrutiny. Reputable, premier brands will have regulation of some sort.
Regulation is there to protect traders, to ensure their money is correctly held and to give them a path to take in the event of a dispute. It should therefore be an important consideration when choosing a trading partner.
Bonuses - Both sign up bonuses and demo accounts are used to attract new clients. Bonuses are often a deposit match, a one-off payment, or risk-free trade. Whatever the form of a bonus, there are terms and conditions that need to be read.
It is worth taking the time to understand those terms before signing up or clicking accept on a bonus offer. If the terms are not to your liking then the bonus loses any attraction and that broker may not be the best choice. Some bonus terms tie in your initial deposit too. It is worth reading T&Cs before agreeing to any bonus, and worth noting that many brokers will give you the option to ‘opt-out’ of taking a bonus.
Using a bonus effectively is harder than it sounds. If considering taking up one of these offers, think about whether, and how, it might affect your trading. One common issue is that turnover requirements within the terms, often cause traders to ‘over-trade’. If the bonus does not suit you, turn it down.
How to Find the Right Broker
But how do you find a good broker? Well, that’s where BitcoinBinaryOptionsReview.com comes in. We assess and evaluate binary options brokers so that traders know exactly what to expect when signing up with them. Our financial experts have more than 20 years of experience in the financial business and have reviewed dozens of brokers.
Being former traders ourselves, we know precisely what you need. That’s why we’ll do our best to provide our readers with the most accurate information. We are one of the leading websites in this area of expertise, with very detailed and thorough analyses of every broker we encounter. You will notice that each aspect of any broker’s offer has a separate article about it, which just goes to show you how seriously we approach each company. This website is your best source of information about binary options brokers and one of your best tools in determining which one of them you want as your link to the binary options market.
Why Use a Binary Options Trading Review?
So, why is all this relevant? As you may already know, it is difficult to fully control things that take place online. There are people who only pose as binary options brokers in order to scam you and disappear with your money. True, most of the brokers we encounter turn out to be legit, but why take unnecessary risks?
Just let us do our job and then check out the results before making any major decisions. All our investigations regarding brokers’ reliability can be seen if you click on our Scam Tab, so give it a go and see how we operate. More detailed scam reports than these are simply impossible to find. However, the most important part of this website can be found if you go to our Brokers Tab.
There you can find extensive analyses of numerous binary options brokers irrespective of your trading strategy. Each company is represented with an all-encompassing review and several other articles dealing with various aspects of their offer. A list containing the very best choices will appear on your screen as you enter our website whose intuitive design will allow you to access all the most important information in real-time.
We will explain minimum deposits, money withdrawals, bonuses, trading platforms, and many more topics down to the smallest detail. Rest assured, this amount of high-quality content dedicated exclusively to trading cannot be found anywhere else. Therefore, visiting us before making any important decisions regarding this type of trading is the best thing to do.
CONCLUSION: Stay ahead of the market, and recover from all kinds of binary options trading loss, including market losses in bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and forex markets too. Send your request via email to - [email protected]
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