This is going to be a little different from most of my other Quality Control columns, because with most of my other quality control columns I’m able to beat the first level of the game I’m playing. Not so here. So, I’m going to ditch the formal structure (somewhat) and speak frankly.
The premise of the game is kind of interesting. Future Earth is under attack by an alien threat, and you, as the pilot of the mecha Battle Unit Zeoth, must go forth and defeat the the alien invaders for the safety of earth.
That’s all well and good (it’s an early Game Boy Game, I’m not expecting Shakespeare – or even Pokemon), but ultimately what this means for you as a player is you’re going through a series of very open levels with a ruined cityscape in the background and a road on the bottom of the level. There isn’t any variability to the level backgrounds as well. Occasionally you’ll get more enemies on some levels, or the placement of mines will be different, but otherwise it’s the same either way. Further, because of the Game Boy’s screen size limitations, the developers decided to compensate by making the sprites on screen large, and the perspective small. You don’t get to see very far ahead, you don’t get to see very far behind. Planning ahead is important for a shump, because you know how to position yourself to avoid enemy attack. However, in this game, you have enemies coming from both sides, and you don’t get a lot of notice of their arrival. When they do come on screen, they’re practically right on top of you if your in the middle of the screen. Now, normally most of your enemies will come from in front, so, like in most shumps, you’ll go to the far back of the screen. But then when your enemies come from behind, you’ll be clobbered literally before you see them coming. So you go to the middle, but then you have little to no reaction time. You can’t win.
Now, the weapon selection, for what it is, is decent. You basically have one kind of shot, but as you get power-ups you’ll be able to shoot more of it with a broader area of fire. You won’t get a Gradius or R-Type level ultra-wide firebase, but you’ll be able to send streams of death in any direction, as this is a mecha shump, so you can shoot forwards, backwards up, and down. The problem is that it takes some cues from a Jetpack shump, in terms of your hit box, and in terms of having to regulate your altitude with the A button while firing with the B button. With my emulator and a X-Box 360 controller, with the D-Pad mapped to the right analog stick, this isn’t a problem. This would, however, be a problem on the Game Boy, particularly if you’re playing this on a long car trip.
Further, you only take two hits to die, and you only have one life. Once you die (and you will die) you get what is, allegedly, a continue screen. It claims it’s a continue screen. What it really does is take you back to the beginning of the first level. I didn’t notice this at first, when I couldn’t get past the first level, but then, I admit, I went to GameFAQs and used a cheat to get, supposedly, invulnerabilty. This was an actual cheat, of the Hold Down And Press A & B variety, not a Game Genie hack, or using save states (my Game Boy emulator doesn’t like doing Save States under Vista – it suddenly starts hogging system resources as soon as you start using them). This worked for the first level, which I beat. Then I got to the second level, and noticed how similar it was looking to the last level, and then I noticed that the cheat wasn’t working any more. Even worse, it actually caused me to lose health, meaning I died in one hit, instead of the usual two. So, I hit continue to, I thought, pick up where I left off – on level 2. Instead, I started on level 1. That’s not a “continue”, that’s just skipping the “going back to the main menu” part of a Game Over. That’s bulldrek, and it’s bad game design.
In conclusion, don’t play this game. Don’t emulate it. Don’t buy it on eBay. If they ever do a DSi virtual console and it ends up on there, don’t buy it. This game is bad, and you should avoid it. Period.