Reviewed by Malc

One of the things I like about shmups is that you can quite happily play them on your own. If you have a drastic dearth of friends available, then this is a good thing. However, when I have mates round they invariably have a good old snigger at my preference in games. I'll dig out the playstation, with Tekken 3, Gran Turismo and Rage Racer, and they'll be impressed. Often I can't help slipping a couple of the Namco Museum packs in the pile too though, and they groan and roll about in agony every time I try and put one on. "C'mon," I say, "these games are great, honestly, if only you'd try them!". "Bollocks", they reply, "the graphics are crap and you're just plain weird. We want to play Tekken 3 now or else we're going home."

So in the interests of continued social interaction I usually glumly accede to their requests;) However, I plonked on the old SNES the other day, and forced them to play Cosmo Gang. I don't know whether for once they were being polite and just humouring me, but they seemed to be highly enjoying themselves.

Cosmo Gang is cute in a bonkers Japanese way, and I do like a bit of that occasionally. It might put some people off, but I highly recommend trying it out. It's probably based on some anime series I've never heard of, and the voices that issue from the machine from time to time are hugely entertaining. Graphics-wise it's clean and well-drawn, with good variety in the backgrounds, and the music is appropriate to the cute feel of the game. That's all I'm going to say about the visual and audio aspects, as the core of the game is the wonderful playability!

I imagine some of you may know about Galaga 88/90 on the PC-Engine? It's a souped up version of the original Galaga, and is undoubtedly one of the best versions for any machine. But it's strictly a lonesome affair, and this is where Cosmo Gang comes into it's own. 2 player shooter games should be all about interaction between the human players, rather than just happening to fly along together at the same time. Cosmo allows other other player to steal weapons when one player dies, and also compete for the falling extras that regularly appear. There's a pop-up clown which scares the enemies and freezes them for a moment, a web which slows them down, and a slow minefield weapon which needs practice to use. Only one player can have the double shot at any one time, so getting it and keeping it it vital! The levels are fast, short and manic, with heaps of bullets on-screen and brand-new enemies like the laser chappies added all the time. The difficulty is graded well and by the end of the main 4th stage becomes compulsively challenging. At times you try and protect another player if they aren't doing so well, as it's game over if one of you loses all their lives. "Hey, stay out the way, I'll get this lot!!". The bonus levels are all about protecting some boxes against invading cuties, and you can rack up a great bonus score if you don't let them touch any. Fights often ensue if your partner is useless here... just try it and see!!

Score: 8/10 (or 9½ if you play 2 player!!)

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A pretty normal level... notice how the baddies 'explode' as a giant yellow teddy-bear:)

If you die you can fortunately start the level you were last on... for once this is a good thing!

New enemies appear all the time, these ones spit lasers at 45 degree angles, and they're FAST! The big baddie at the top has a double weapon, try and grab it for yourself!

One of the extra weapons is a warphole thing, which sends any enemies spinning off if they touch it! The giant gold coins are annoying, as you can't shoot past them - destroy on sight!!

Another handy one is the web, slowing them down and making them easier to kill. You almost pray for these during the last levels!!

Here's the stupid but addictive bonus level. Not doing too well here, as some of the baddies have nicked my boxes. They do an amusing dance afterwards, with some MAD Japanese speech. I'd love to know what they say!


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie