Spriggan - Naxat Soft / Compile


Reviewed by Postman

Ok, I've had a request for this one, and it's a pretty top notch shooter that has been overlooked for a while, so here's my take on Spriggan for the PC Engine CD. I'm not exactly sure where this game fits in with all its "brothers" in the series. It can be grouped with Compile games, and has a similar style of play, yet it has also been grouped with Nexzr Special and all those Japanese timed competition games. It has a sequel on the Snes, but that has little to do with this one, and a Spriggan Mark 2 on the PC Engine, which plays more like Cybernator and not like a "pure" shootemup. So avoiding the confusion dealing with placement, let's take a look at how the game stands by itself.

Spriggan has a very unique weapon system, which requires a twenty minute explanation that the game provides for you if you let the demo screens run. There are four different colored balls you can pick up: red, blue, yellow, and green. You can hold three of them at a time, and depending on which combination of the three you have, the weapon system changes. My favorite is green, yellow, green, which produces something like a wide-screen wave effect. A red, blue, red shoots off a fire weapon in a triangular shape, and with blue in the mixture there is a water shield type weapon. You can also opt to fire off one of your orbs as a bomb, which comes in very handy but causes you to lose the weapons system you're using. While this is very innovative, my only complaint is that the actual weapons stink. If you don't use the G/Y/G I mentioned before, the fire rate is so slow compared to the enemies you're facing that you get wasted. If the designers would have improved the weapons, this game could have been much better.

Fortunately, picking up a silver orb gives you a one-hit shield, which is very useful. This also destroys all enemies on screen. Spriggan offers a manual speed up system, pretty good play control, huge bosses, and nice backgrounds. Fans of Kingdom Grandprix should try out this game, since the graphic style is very, VERY similar. Another feature that I really liked is during a boss fight, orbs continue to drop down towards the player, allowing a constant pattern of powering up, bombing, and grabbing another powerup. So those long boss fights actually supply you with ammunition, unlike R-Type where if you die, there isn't a powerup in sight for the boss. Music is pretty good, it keeps you occupied but doesn't really stand out as memorable. The only down side I can find to Spriggan is that it is very fast paced. This one is no stroll in the park. Challenge is about medium, since you get lots of 1ups but use them frequently, and replay factor is about medium also, since the game offers a time trial mode like the Star Soldier series. Spriggan is worth a try for any and all shooter fans, just don't get too excited about the sequels and spin-offs, which are very disappointing.

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Being too fast paced in my book is a mark up, so I liked Spriggan very much =) It's a pretty cool shoooter, which I could describe, graphics-wise, as a medieval version of MUSHA, with similar mechs, and gameplay-wise, as a fast vert shooter with a very interesting weapon system. Knowing how to combine the powerups is somewhat of the key to achieving more in the game (though I agree some weapons are not as cool as they could be)... Again, the PC-Engine shows that sometimes it could give a harsh fight to the 16-bit consoles of its time, despite being supposedly of a lower spec.

Play Spriggan, but avoid the Spriggan SNES game (Spriggan Powered, if I'm correct). It does not even come close to this Naxat/compile beautiness.

- Akira


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