The Japanese indie scene is finally making it’s presence known to the English-speaking world. Hot on the tail of Fortune Summoners, Nyu Media (who released Satazius late last year, with additional backing from Capcom) are gearing up to release a full trilogy of gothic-themed vertically scrolling shmups to all standard digital distribution platforms – Steam included, presumably – for $10. Keep an eye open for Tennen-Sozai’s eXceed collection in the coming weeks. Gameplay footage and some thoughts after the break.
Update: A playable demo of eXceed2nd is available now, with a demo of eXceed3rd ‘coming soon’.
Getting top billing in this trilogy is the most recent of the three games – eXceed3rd, with the weighty subtitle of Jade Penetrate/Black Package.
Having already played this one, I can fairly safely say that if you like your vertically scrolling shooters, this one is probably worth the $10 asking price by itself. It’s a very solid, fast-moving game with good music and some clever/pretty bullet patterns to weave through. It’s simple, unpretentious stuff – there’s a little bit of story behind it (which I can’t understand in the Japanese version anyhow) – but the core gameplay is just a matter of shoot, dodge, shoot. Fair enough.
Somewhat older, (hailing back to 2007) is the second game in the series. eXceed2nd – Vampire REX.
Less polished – you can really see the improvement of the developers over the years – but still definitely worth playing. Keen gamers will notice that this one takes it’s core gameplay mechanic from Treasure’s classic Ikaruga, where enemies fire white-blue or black-red bullets, and you can flip your attunement to allow you to eat one or the other color at any given time, fueling your attacks, while the other shade of shots remains immediately deadly. It adds a strong puzzle element to the gameplay, especially when solid walls of alternating color bullets come into play.
Last (and undeniably least, hence it having a much lower individual price tag) is the original eXceed: Gun Bullet Children.
By no means looking as sharp as it’s sequels, this looks to be a fairly solid Touhou-inspired shooter – pretty slow and casual compared to many games in the genre, and might be good place for newcomers to get up to speed with the genre before taking a shot at the faster, more aggressive games that came later.
For genre fans wanting something more substantial to get their teeth into after Satazius, this looks like a no-brainer once it releases later this month. No specific day is given, but Nyu Media claim that it’s due February 2012. Keep an ear to the ground, and an eye on DIYGamer for a review (or three) closer to release.