Arcade Hits Pack: Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Review

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Date Released: 30 August, 2010
Date Reviewed: 10 October, 2010
Players: 2 Players
Length: 80 minutes
Replayability: Moderate-High

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Introduction

SEGA Arcade Hits Pack
contains two of SEGA’s 1990s 3D light gun games: Gunblade NY: Special Air Assault Force and its sequel L.A. Machineguns; Rage of the Machines. Both games were developed in Japan, the first in 1995 and the latter 1998, by SEGA’s studios as arcade titles, and the compilation DVD retains the same quality and features of the originals. While not the best known light gun franchise by SEGA, this series features everything one would expect from the genre SEGA dominated in its 3D form.

Concept

Being arcade titles, the games are rather straight-forward and to the point, and they are expected to be completed in one sitting per-game mode. Like other light gun games, the player must shoot enemies and obstacles on-screen – defeating enemy goons, vehicles, and bosses along the way. The main premise of doing this is not only to complete stages to move on to the next but also to garner points for a high score, which can be uploaded to local and online leaderboards similar to the arcade experience. Eventually the player will make it through to the end of a mission upon which the final score will be tallied. Each stage is ranked and performance can determine how the game will end, with less than stellar endings for klutz cops.

Story

Each of the games feature their own story based on different time periods. Gunblade NY, the first game, occurs in the year 2005 and takes place in New York. The UN General Assembly is taking place as suddenly a militia of terrorists attack, and they take hostages of local civilians and world leaders. The story unfolds as it becomes apparent that the terrorists are actually an army of androids from another country whom the local police are no match for. In retaliation the American Federal government sends out its Special Air Assault Force – the attack helicopter Gunblade. This results in two battle missions to defeat the android offensives and restore peace to the region.

L.A. Machinguns features a similar story, but it takes place in the future. The year is now 2025 and another plot of androids disguised as terrorists attacks America, but this time in Los Angeles and their targets are to capture the President and free their leader from Alcatraz. A new anti-terrorist force is dispatched whom ride large hover bikes and they must save the President and defeat the leader of the androids, securing peace once again.

Gameplay

The gameplay of each game is mostly the same. The player shoots an unlimited machine gun which requires no reloading and the player can change weapons as they are unlocked through game progress. This makes for an interesting take on the genre as many light gun games feature ammunition and reloading, making this game rather frantic in comparison. The main weapon is a heavy machine gun and the alternatives consist of a rapid fire light machine gun, a spread shot (which has spread tilt-control in Gunblade NY), and a slow heavy shot. The alternatives are not required to play the game and instead allow for more advanced tactics if the player so wishes. The ranking system related to gathering them just requires the player to beat game modes repeatedly and their final score leads to either a level-up (may require several play throughs), a double level-up, or a level down – rewarding and punishing players based on their skill.

Level structure in each game differs significantly. In Gunblade NY the player has the choice of either a hard mission or an easy mission. Each consists of four stages and boss fights either at the end of a stage or mid-stage. The game gets progressively harder as the player progresses and the enemies vary in challenge, as do the bosses. It features such enemies as armoured anti-aircraft vehicles, a variety of goons from foot soldiers to ninjas armed with missile launchers, and bosses ranging from a S.C.U.D launcher to a battle mech. The variety keeps the game fresh as progression is made through the New York bay area and Manhattan. There also exists an extra mode which features random stages that must be played for a minute in order to gain a high multiplier score -essentially focusing on combo-attacks, but unlike the main arcade game this mode does not feature continues and was not included in the arcade release.

L.A. Machineguns is similar to the previous game, although features but one mission. However, now the player can play any of the four stages in any order they want, and once all stages are completed a final stage is unlocked. There is no extra mode in this game, though. The levels themselves take place in more varied settings such as an accurate depiction of L.A., Alcatraz, an underground enemy base, and a sky battle against a giant battleship. The main difference in gameplay is that it goes at a faster pace, is more balanced, and includes civilians. Players must avoid shooting the innocents scattered around the levels or else suffer a point penalty for each civilian shot. This leads to missions such as saving the President held hostage and makes the gameplay overall more chaotic than the last game as players must use risk-assessment when choosing where to shoot. Enemies more commonly fly in this game and melee foes exist which try to jump atop the player’s hover bike; bosses include enemies such as advanced tank formations and the giant flying battle ship of the giant flying battle ship level.

An additional gameplay feature is the ‘free camera’. As the game is played the camera follows where the action is, thus it never follows the same path twice. Each play session will result in a unique take on the missions, increasing replayability and giving the game a more life-like experience.

Sound

The sound of each game is typical of 1990s arcade games. Sound effects range from expected arcade sounds to over-the-top explosions, all of which suit the game well, although voices are muffled and awkward. This is not entirely bad, though, as most voices are meant to be radio broadcasts and come from the Wiimote itself, making it fell more authentic. The voices themselves can also be amusing which fits the style of SEGA’s 1990s arcade games, as often they are making strange sentences and being over congratulatory.

The music features for the most part metal and techno music, and it all sounds more like a console such as Genesis rather than ‘CD-quality’ sound. This leads to a game that sounds like a traditional arcade game rather than a console game. Overall the music is done well with no particularly bad tracks, and some of them are actually quite good. Gunblade NY features music more similar to titles such as Virtual-On and Virtua games while L.A. Machineguns’ soundtrack is more fast-paced which suits the quick action of the game.

Visuals

Visually the game takes on the style of other games such as Virtua Cop and Virtua Fighter. The graphics are very clean, run at perfect frame rates, and are presented in widescreen. While their polygon count may be low (especially Gunblade NY), the superb performance makes it so that the games flow just as well as anyone remembers unlike many other older 3D titles which suffer from low and mixed-quality frame rates. Overall L.A. Machinguns looks the best and is closer to a Dreamcast game in quality while the former game is more similar to a Saturn game.

Stylistically the games fit in well with SEGA’s other 3D arcade offerings and they retain the humorous and extravagant charm of the time. The games feature excessive action-based design, much creativity, and influences of other entertainment mediums – such as enemies based off The Terminator and the last villain looking similar to characters such as Lex Luther or Doctor Evil. It all comes together to a style that defines SEGA’s mid-to-late arcade titles and comes off as something entirely unique to SEGA and Japanese arcade games in general.

Special Notes

Unlike some of SEGA’s other offerings, this game was developed by Japanese teams and takes specific attention to detail. Playing either game will feel just as it did in the arcades and there exists no flaws in sound, graphics, or gameplay. Everything is authentic and ported perfectly; something that contrasts with SEGA’s other offerings in the last decade. It retains the quality many had been accustomed to when SEGA was still in the console business and it is an ideal model to follow when porting arcade games to newer consoles.

Additionally the original games featured arcade cabinets with large machine guns, featuring intensive vibration feed-back and large design. While it does translate well to the Wiimote (especially with an add-on such as the Zapper), the arcade machines featured hardware simply unavailable to home consoles – past and present.

Conclusion

To conclude, each of these games provides a fun and authentic arcade experience that is easy to pick up and play, as well as replay repeatedly without becoming too stale. It matches the Wii’s catalogue of games suitably in this regard, appealing to players who do not wish to take the time to understand complex control methods. While L.A. Machineguns may be more difficult to play than its predecessor, the use of continues means that anyone can still complete it and have a fun time doing so. The game also has appeal to anyone who has been playing games since the mid 1990s, as playing this will feel no different than entering an arcade at the time or playing consoles such as the SEGA Saturn or early Dreamcast titles.

Its price of 30.00 USD MSRP may seem a little high for two short games, but their replayability and accessibility makes up for it, especially for people who enjoy to-the-point multiplayer and/or classic SEGA games.

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Format(s): Arcades, Nintendo Wii. originalreviews

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