ESP Ra.De - Atlus / Cave


Reviewed by Deeto

ESP. Extra Sensory Powers.
[ I thought ESP stood for Extra Sensory Perception - Felix the Cat ]

Over time there have been reports of people with these powers. The ability to read minds, move objects, turn the car on without keys, and so on, these people have been feared throughout time. Of course, none of that is actually true, but there is one thing for sure---ESP makes good ground for video games. One of those games is ESP Ra.De.

Truly a great shmup, ESP Ra.De. (ERD from now on), puts you in the shoes of several "gifted" young individuals fighting against some sort of evil. There's your generic loner anime guy, your typical saucy anime chick, and lastly, a young girl. Quite a motley crew, to say the least. Each character goes through the stages in a different order, until the final boss. I've only played through the game with one character, so forgive me if I'm leaving out something important.
Each characters ESP allows them to fly over the cityscape, and they also each have 3 attacks. All of these attacks can be charged up repeatedly by grabbing plenty of stereo-typical 'P's. The first attack is usually your standard straight-forward rapid blast, the second is an explosive attack that must be recharged between firing, and the last is a super powerful attack. This attack can be used in two ways. The first is to just fire a huge blast of fire forward. This blast neutralizes all enemy fire for the time it's in the air. The second way is to hold down the attack button, initializing a force-field of sorts, which will save you temporarily, and then fires an extra long super blast. However, keep in mind that you've got only got so much energy for your super attack, and using it too much will leave you screwed. Along with all these attacks, you also have a life bar, but it really just counts as your live count, since losing all life puts you in game over.

The graphics in this game are excellent, which is to be expected from a 1998 shmup. Most of the objects in the game are 3d rendered, such as the humans and backgrounds, while most of the enemies are the usual 2d hand-drawn fare. This is very pleasing to the eyes, and the graphics are never cluttered or confusing, besides the intense action in the game itself. The rest of the game is just as fantastic as the graphics. The game has a very smooth learning curve, slowly easing it's way up in difficulty. At the beginning of the game, you can make it through nearly unharmed using minimal amounts of of effort. However, the game gets much harder very fast, until pretty much the an entire stage is dodging screens of bullets.

The bosses are huge, and very interesting, often having many attacks at many different times. Lastly, the stages are varied, and of perfect length. However, there are only 5 stages in the game. This is really the only problem of ESP Ra.De.

Easily one of the finest shmups of all time, ESP Ra.De. is a must-play for anyone who has ever been even relatively interested in shmups.

Level One:
Going Downtown!!!!

Level Two:
ESPing by the bay...

Level Three:
Shopping with psychics...

Level Four:
Deeper underground...

Level Five:
Your typical final stronghold...

[ And for those who've played the game before, here's the ENDING!!! ]
<< Here's the character select screen. You can pick from the following unlikely heroes, who each have their own route through the game. I prefer the first guy (Yusuke Sagami), since he's got a good forward attack and is moderately fast. It's also because I don't want to get a little girl involved in a fight for humanity.

[ Even the character select screens are pretty in Cave games! WOW! - Felix the Cat ]

Another big review by the man Deeto! He really writes some good reviews =)

ESP Ra.De is a shmup I had the oppurtunity to try out first hand, standing at my mate's arcade cabinet in his room, complete with all the latest shmups. It really grabbed me in a bullet-choking way, and it took me all of three hours just to get off level three! Really solid game, and another triumph from Cave and Atlus. You wouldn't think that this was made in 1998 would you?

Nice one Deeto, keep them coming! ]


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie