NAMCOT - PC ENGINE
Thanks to Roger Post for yet another review!
saving the universe countless times from invading aliens, dodging the
same spread patterns of enemy bullets, and destroying large mechanical
spaceships over and over, one tends to get bored with the typical run-of-the-mill
That's why I'm always on the lookout for a shmup with a new concept,
something more than button "a" is normal shot, and button "b" is hyperbomb.
Something like R-Type, with the indestructible pod, or Gradius, with
the unique power-up system comes to mind. Namco(t), a little known company
which produced a lot of good shooters, usually delivers in the original
idea department. (Rog, I think Namcot is actually Namco the BIG well
known company as well - not sure - malc)
In Final Blaster, powering up the normal shot turns you ship into a
fiery phoenix (like that old cartoon! G-Force I think) which does more
damage to the invading fleet. Nothing groundbreaking, but different
none the less. Other than that, fly through 7 levels of tough gameplay,
powering up with two types of goodies: red for spread and blue for laser/bomb.
This is a great game, but unfortunately contains all of my 4 most hated
things in a shmup. Time for me to complain and vent (drum roll please.........)
Enemies come from behind your ship. It's bad enough 10 armadas are
ahead, you've got bogies on your six too.
Enemies that went offscreen 5 minutes ago still shoot at you. There
is a lot of that in FB, and it gets very frustrating. What you can't
see can hurt you.
Fighting bosses over again (a.k.a. the MegaMan syndrome). I beat
him once, now STAY DOWN ROCKY! STAY DOWN!
You get really far, collect lots of powerups, then die and have
nada (a.k.a the Gradius/R-Type syndrome).
shmups you need to beat using one man, without dying.
Level one boss, a cousin of the Gradius boss family. Stay out of
his lazers and into the more open, airy spacious part of the screen,
the better to dodge. Judging by the crater in the BG and the smell
of cream cheese, I think we're on the moon.
The more powerups you end the level with, the higher the meter goes,
and I think the harder the next level is. Kind of a catch-22, which
I thought was neat.
Level two boss, don't be so quick to cut over when his lasers stop,
they leave little laser droppings here and there.
This guy has to get creative. He draws little patterns and then
traverses them, while still shooting at you. Some brave pilots have
to sacrifice their lives so that you, the player, can learn the
patterns for next time (he takes a while to learn).
These statues play catch with a razor sharp boomerang! Ouch....try
to keep it level so it doesn't bounce around too much, and shoot
at the garbage pile up top.
Level five gets tough, an obstacle course starting with these pistons
squishing you, and also amebas clinging to the ship and slowing
you down. Shake 'em off, or coat the ship with some butter before
On to the blender-like spinning blades....it's all in the timing.
Not Santa Claus, but grappling claws with more amoebas....the boss
will be a welcome sight, after this nonsense!
The dragon made of spare parts, he's so mad that he is second hand
material, he's taking it out on sweet innocent you. Put you speed
up to 4 (full) cause he moves around a lot. I like PCE shmups because
a common feature is speed control, it comes in handy.
Level six has a hieroglyphic look to it, complete with outlined
enemies. Birds jump off the stones, which also fall at you, so be
very careful here.
(Look, there's that bird shape out of Xevious! must be Namco then...
From stones to plants....You don't need a green thumb to beat this
I knew that was too easy! Second from boasts scattershot bombs.
Shoot them before they get too close to you.
Does this guy ever die? The reject from little shop of horrors has
long arms, keep moving as they aim for where you are. Notice the
player is non-existent is this shot, because I'm DEAD! EXPIRED!
PASSED ON! AN EX-PARROT! (sorry, just watching Python...)
This is a short level, but a real gauntlet. If you're not powered
up here, it's very very tough (but still possible). Guys burst from
the sides of the wall, then split up, insects dart through the whole
screen, and other ships shoot heatseekers and take lots of hits
to kill. Do you get the feeling you're not wanted here?
Don't worry, this contraption won't do anything yet. You have to
fight 3 previous random bosses again (YAWN!) then the party starts.
This used to be in the center, but is now in your face. He circles
around and spits shrimp at you(no kidding). Use the cocktail sauce
weapon for best results.
This is what I look like in the morning, bad breath and all. He
shows his true colors, but eventually skill and seemingly unlimited
ammunition (how do they do that anyway?) win the day. You can relax
now, it's over.
Ah, finally, a worthwhile ending to a shooter. No "congratulations",
"thanks for playing", "see you again!", or "try next difficulty
level", but a real, bona fide ending! This one tugs on the heart
strings, as the subjects of the peace of humanity, honor, and love,
pop up literally out of nowhere, and we can walk away from the computer
with a smile on our face, only wondering how long the peace will
last (average is about 4 months, 6 days, 13 hours and 12 minutes,
the time until the next shmup is released).