Aleste Gaiden - Compile - 1989

Aleste Gaiden

System: MSX 2
Published and Developed by Compile in 1989

Review by: Shatterhand

The Aleste series is undoubtly one of the best shmups series ever, and I am sure many people love it. If you are expecting a game in the same quality and non-stop action of the series, you should look somewhere else, because Aleste Gaiden is without any doubt, the worst game in the series, and is below the quality standard expected in a Compile game. But let's talk more about this later.

The plot. Well, I have no idea of what the plot is about, as the very nice intro is all in japanese. I could took a guess and say that Dia 51, the evil computer from Aleste and Aleste 2, managed to destroy Earth, and now our hero, seeking revenge, will try to destroy Dia 51. But of course, I should not guess anything, and just bring you the real facts.

Technically, the game is perfect. It's very fast and incredibly smooth, without any slowdows. The graphics are very good, with some nice backgrounds, though the animation of the main hero looks a bit weird. The sound is great, with excellent sound effects, and fantastic songs (Just the kind of thing you expect from Compile)

Now, the gameplay. If you take a look at the screenshots, you'll notice the game is very different from the others games in the series. Instead of a flying ship (or a flying mech, like in MUSHA), you control a guy running in a vertical landscape. This is an interesting twist to the series, as now you have to deal with the backgrounds, and sometimes you'll have to jump holes in the ground. When you die, you get back to a restart point instead of continuing from where you have died, something unusual in the Aleste series.

Certain ships, when destroyed, leave behind an icon that can change your weapon. The blue icon gives you a laser, that can go through enemies, it's fast, it has average fire rate but it's rather weak. The red icon gives you a flame that can go trough enemies, is strong, but it's too slow and it has a bad fire rate. The yellow one (Is the one you begins with), is a shuriken, it has medium power, medium speed and good fire rate, but it can't go through enemies. Each weapon can be powered up 3 times, and you can also get 2 options.

So, you may be thinking now: "Oh, this looks fine so far. What's wrong about it?" Well, if you are used to the amazing amount of bullets that Compile games usually throws at you, think again, because here there are usually just a few things on screen at the same time, and there are many sections that are completely empty. In some stages there are enemies that comes from behind without any warning, and it's extremely annoying to be killed by an enemy that wasn't there in the second before. The enemies repeat themselves too much through the levels, and the game is just too easy - I finished the day I got it, and with unlimited continues, you won't take too long to finish all 5 levels of it. And even if you like to play without using continues, it won't take too long to do so. I also have to say Aleste Gaiden has the easiest bosses ever.

But the game doesn't have only bad points. It is pretty fast, and the different approach to the Aleste series is very interesting. The action is solid, and while the enemies repeat themselves a lot, the levels have very different backdrops that need to be negotiated, never making the gameplay too much repetitive. The weapons are well balanced (Something you don't see everyday in a Compile game) and like I said before, the GFX and SFX are great.

After reading my review, you may think Aleste Gaiden is a very bad game. That's not true, the game isn't all that bad, it just falls in the "Above Average" category The fact is that we expect higher quality games from Compile, and being the worst game in a series that has only fantastic games isn't that a bad thing at all.

Note: I've seen this game with at least 4 different names: Aleste Gaiden, Aleste Special, Aleste Bio-Menace and Aleste Out of Version. Take a look at the title screen, and tell me what you think the game is called :)


Graphics: 90%
Sound: 95%
Gameplay: 65%
Overall: 70%


The 1st level is in a destroyed New York City. Those red robots appear in every level, they walk in a straight direction and shoot at you. Very easy stuff.

Did they clone the Statue of Liberty? There are many heads of the NY statue through the city (That's why I guess it's New York City).

That yellow ship in the left is the one that gives you weapon when destroyed (The color of the ship tells what weapon it will give)



You have to watch out for holes in the ground - fall in a hole, and you're dead. Pressing the 2nd button will make the hero jump, a first in the Aleste series.

The 1st boss, in true Comple fashion, is a set of cannons that open and close, while shooting at you (Much like the bosses of Zanac, the 1st boss of Aleste and the 1st sub-boss of Aleste 2). This is the hardest boss in the whole game (And it isn't really THAT hard)



The 2nd stage looks like a futuristic city. As you can tell by the big hole in the ground, this city was probably attacked by Dia 51 too. Or something.

This is the red weapon in all its glory. You may be wondering what happened with the main hero in this screenshot. Well, the white running guy is the hero, flasing after getting a new weapon. The blue running guy is an option.



I don't know how well you can see this, but here those red robots are coming from BEHIND. As you can see, I have no way to escape if there's one coming from where I am. This also happens a lot in this game, and it's VERY annoying.

The 2nd boss walks left and right, while spinning that ball above his head. From time to time, he throws the ball at your direction. This boss is incredibly easy.



Level 3 is at forests and mountais, and stones falls in your direction from the sides of the screen. Most sections here are very narrow, not leaving much space to dodge the bullets.

Faces in the ground... erm ?!? - As you can see, the guys at Compile weren't much inspired when designing the ships, as most of them look very similar.

Notice the amount of bullets in the screen - they don't get in a higher number.



This level is really weird, not only you have faces in the ground, you also have robots coming from the ground ! Are they undead robots or something ?

Those mechanized dogs look very nice. They cross the screen from one side to the other, shooting at you.



The 3rd boss is a mechanized eagle that flies left and right, while shooting ONE shot at every 2 or 3 seconds in your direction, and from time to time it fires a laser in a straight line. This boss is also very easy.

Fourth level is in some kind of temple. Here stones are falling from above.



Those little stone houses at the sides shoot many bullets at you. And here you can also see another mechanized dog filling the screen with bullets.

The boss of the 4th levels suddenly appears at a random point in the screen.

Then it moves down, and when it reaches the bottom of the screen, it goes either left or right (Always in your direction), and when it reaches the border, it dissapears, and appears in another random position, and does it all again, This is the most stupid boss to ever appear in any game, even my grandma could beat him (Hell, he doesn't even SHOOT ANYTHING AT YOU!)



The last stage looks like a mechanized hive (Or something like that, with all those hexagons.). Those cannons come from the ground, shoot some bullets at you and hide again.

While they are uncovered, they can be shot. A bit like the 1st boss.

This stage is the only one I consider to be a bit difficult, as it throws lots of bullets at you in certain points. Here I am using the laser weapon.



In level 5 you have to do some really difficult jumps, as you can see here. It would be cooler if you had to dodge enemy fire, shoot enemies AND negotiate the jumps at the same time.

Usually when you have to do hard jumps there are only 1 or 2 enemies on screen.

Near the end of the stage there's a very narrow section with lots of enemies. This level really shows the wasted potential of the game - If the whole game was that hard, it would be more enjoyable.

You are getting close to the last boss!



Here is, the last boss. It's that flying robot with some organic parts at the bottom. He shoots some fast waves at you, while sometimes shooting lasers.

This one is a little harder than the others, because the waves he shoots at you are very fast, and sometimes hard to dodge. You can see Dia51 in the background, but you WON'T battle him. When you destroy this robot, Dia51 is also destroyed.

Wheee! some new reviews up again, thanks Shatterhand for another review of the much-covered-in-shmups Aleste series - that last boss looks an awful lot like my garden just now - overgrown with mutant bushes and broken paving slabs - cheers! - malc


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