Download - NEC Avenue


Reviewed by Solidshoe

Bad Engrish, catchy tunes, Anime scenes......Download!!

You know how you're always hearing about those awesome japanese pc-engine titles that never got ported to the turbo? You know, the games that could have saved the American turbo 16 from bombing the way it did. Well, the truth hurts, because while americans were playing 'epics' like Impossimole and BravoMan, japanese gamers were enjoying the little gem I bring before you...


Download is one of the rare shooters that you just love to come across during those times when you least expect it. I'm talking about those days when you just can't stomach another round of Blazing Lasers or even Battle Garegga (brilliant as they may be). A shmup that can be funny, challenging and good looking, well, that would make anybodys day. I belive that Download is one of those games.

While the story is vague (I can't translate Japanese), it's presented using cool anime cutscenes that come together to form what could only be described as a mini movie. The intro alone is about five minutes long, and even though I didn't know what the hell was going on, it was still worthy of watching. From what I can gather, a cyborg named Syd is the hero.

Anyway, Download is a sidescrolling shooter. Your ship isn't really a ship at all, but is in fact Syd and his flying future hoverbike. From the start, you get your choice of two primary weapons consisting of a wide vulcan type shot, or a streaming laser. You can also choose from three secondary weapons, ranging from guided missels to bullet shields.

Now I won't lie to you, Download isn't the best shooter on the planet, and certainly not on the pc-engine. The game does have some faults. Many of the enemies are incredibly cheap, appearing out of nowhere and ramming into you, crowding the screen, taking way too many hits, etc. The bosses can kill you in seconds and they take way too long to kill. The enemy types can get really repetitive, and so on. This is no Thunderforce 4 or Gate of Thunder.

However, the game looks pretty good for a non cd turbo game. There are tons of 3d on many of the stages, and the first level especially looks great, with about 3 layers of scrolling on the highway floor alone, let alone the other five or so in the background.

There are some pretty decent level themes, like destroyed highways, oceans, space, a cyber-space police station, and more. The gameplay is great as well. Sure, there are a lot of times when bullets seem to appear out of thin air, bosses crowd the screen with three seperate attacks, and thirty bullets are coming at you a second. Despite that, your vehicle never seems sluggish. The speed can be altered, which is a plus in a game like this.

At times, Download feels like a manic shooter, and not a paced one. Sometimes, there is just too much going on to keep track of anything, and you end up taking hits. Thankfully, the craft can take up to 4 hits before crashing. You can also get all of your energy back from the power-ups that litter the stages. So, while Download can very frustrating, it's never impossible, and thanks to the infinite continues, there's no crying or whining when you take one too many hits. However, you must continue from the start of the level, so it's not like dumping quarter after quarter into an arcade machine. You will have to learn the levels to make proper use of the continues.

Download has other outstanding values. The music is absolutely rockin, at least by turbo standards. Much in the same vien of Musha and Thunderforce 4, Download attempts to create heavy metel tunes using a weak sound system and a cartrdige format. In spite of the limitations, like Musha and TF4, the soundtrack works, and it gets you pumped up for the levels. If I ever get my hands on Download 2 for the super cd, I don't doubt that I'll be amazed by the songs. As far as I'm concerned, this is the most rocking hu-card music I've heard coming from a pc-engine shmup. Of course, my tastes may not be everyone's taste, so if you find you don't like the music, ok. I happened to love it.

Another great thing about Download is that you're rewarded when you actually die. While I know it wasn't purposeful, this game has some of the funniest English I've seen on a game over screen. Just look at the pics!! Also, they use some profanity, and it makes things all the more humorous.

In all honesty, if it wasn't for the anime screens, music, bad english, and good graphics, Download would be another boring shooter. However, it manages to succeed with its presentation, comic aspects, and good control. It can be a bitch in some places, and the bosses WILL piss you off, but give it a chance and you'll find an enjoyable shmup that serves as a good 'getaway' shooter when you tire of the big boys.

We love hilarious Engrish and comedy games here ;)

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<< [ Good lord, what an exciting intro *sarcasm* - Felix the Cat ]

Thanks for the review!
Download... if I remember correctly spawned a sequel on the PC Engine CD format. Haven't seen much of it though, although judging from this game, it ought to be better ;) - Felix the Cat


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