Super Galaxy Squadron EX Review (PC)

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Super Galaxy Squadron EX Beta Trailer

Developer: Synset
Publisher: New Blood Interactive

Main Review

Review Context: While waiting for my mom to finish laundry as a kid, she would give me four quarters for two arcades that were there. One of those games was 1942. As I went to the same laundromat, I got better at the game to where other adults were amazed at how a kid got far in the game. I never knew the genre it would be placed under until recently I learned the term “shmup,” or “bullet hell games.” To this day, I believe the reason my hand-eye coordination is well is due to games like 1942.
Date of Playthrough: February 25, 2016

PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 245 Processor (2 CPUs), ~2.9GHz
RAM: 4GB
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series
Resolution: 1600×900
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy.

As space shooters become rarer on consoles in the US due to poor sales, they are still released regularly in Japan. People who want to get their bullet dodging fix (that isn’t first person) have to rely on PC more than ever. Super Galaxy Squadron was released early last year to a positive reception. Now a year later, an updated version of the game has been released and as a bonus, the original version is included. Will you be ready to save the galaxy remastered, or will you stick with the original?

Graphics

The visuals do a nice job of feeling like this game was released on a 32-bit console, but this game is largely unknown. While it takes full use of the 16:9 ratio, it still uses the 4:3 ratio for the gameplay. I feel that is a style that should never be changed unless for a good reason. The background environments and bright colors help give this game somewhat of a cartoon look, like you would wake up early for on Saturday mornings. The HUD is displayed bright and bold so you can see your status while dodging bullets. Of course, since you are busy dodging bullets from enemies, you only get to appreciate the scenery once you defeat a boss, even if only lasts for a few seconds. The newly added cutscenes look great by maintaining the look, instead of feeling out of place by upping the visuals.

SuperGalaxySquadronEX01

The original has the game played in 4:3 ratio, while having the HUD put at the top of the screen not making it hard to read, but if you glance at your health or score you might will probably get hit. The game looks more like something you would see on a 16-bit console, but still keeps the colorful environments of space intact.

Controls

The great thing about space shooters is that it’s easy to pick up and play. You normally have a shoot and bomb button. With Super Galaxy Squadron EX you have shoot and Hyper mode. This game can be played with a keyboard or controller, but I highly recommend a controller since you need pinpoint accuracy in dodging enemy bullets. I am thankful the game has you holding down the shoot button, while some games have you pressing the button which can wear out your thumb.

Design

Usually with shmup games you only have arcade(story mode) and that’s it. However, this game does have an arcade mode, but there is something in this game that peaks my interest to get others to play this game. This game has three levels of difficulty: Casual, Veteran, and Hell. This is great since I know people that would love to play games like this, but feel intimidated by all the bullets on the screen. Another feature I noticed when playing(except on Hell) is a health bar.

When I got hit, I was confused as to why my ship didn’t explode, only to notice a health bar. While the game only has six levels, they are some challenging levels with autosave, should you decide to take a break. There is leaderboard support, so you can replay levels to get that high score. As stated earlier, there is a story mode explaining the galaxy wars and the limited cutscenes are done well, Most players might use this moment to rest their hands as they get ready for the next level. Super Galaxy Squadron EX also has you choosing between fourteen different ships from the start, with each of them having their strengths and weaknesses. Each of the ships give a little backstory to each of the pilots while displaying their stats for Power, Armor, and Agility. The ship I used was well balanced on all three, but each ship has a different color for their bullets and how they are fired.

SuperGalaxySquadronEX02

As you gun down enemies your combo increases, and the bigger the combo, the higher the score. If you manage to get over 10x combos you activate Overdrive, which makes your weapons OP(Overpowered) for a short amount of time. You can upgrade your weapons to become more powerful, but if you take damage you lose that upgrade, unless you can regain it before it disappears. The Hyper mode is your bomb that you earn by collecting credits after a ship is defeated. The credits come to you faster if you cease fire, but leaves you open. The story goes, as the war between two space races reignite, it’s up to the Super Galaxy Squadron to help stop the war from wiping out life. Nothing too fancy, but enough to get you into the game.

Casual difficulty is perfect for newbies to the genre as it has a small amount of enemies on screen reducing the amount of bullets coming at you. Veteran has more but not too much while Hell comes at you with no mercy and no health. So, I applaud this game for having a difficulty setting for new and experienced players. Endless mode is your standard survival mode with two stages. As of this review, the first level is greyed out with a “Coming Soon” sign, and the second is Zen. The mission is to kill as many enemies with one life.

I played the game on Veteran, since I’m familiar with the genre. I beat the game with only one continue. It was a cakewalk for me until the last two levels where it got intense, but not enough to get me frustrated. The boss battles are always the end all be all. There is a tactic I use with shmups where I save my bombs for the boss to make it easier. Well, that trick still works, for the most part, since some bosses go through multiple states before being defeated. I decided to try Hell difficulty and did better than expected, but lost on the second level since there’s no health.

SuperGalaxySquadronEX03

If you decided to play the original version, the sprites are smaller and the modes are the same. However, for arcade you have two levels of difficulty; Normal and Hardcore. Normal has a decent amount of enemies, while Hardcore has more enemies and no health meter. It also has an Endless mode with your choice of Normal or Hardcore difficulty. There is a decent amount of content in the single player game to keep you busy with fourteen ships to find which one works for you. I tried both difficulties and came close to beating the game on Hardcore.

Sound

The chiptunes for this game go right with the game as you gun down ships. The voice acting during the cutscenes are a nice touch, while the original version uses text for their storytelling. As an added bonus, the soundtrack is available for purchase. The sound you will be hearing a lot is your ship firing at other ships and hearing them explode. That goes double when you defeat the boss and get a bigger explosion. My only gripe would have to be the warning noise to let you know you’re low on health. Sometimes I would hear that noise, only to realize it’s part of the soundtrack and not the game.

Similar Games Liked:
1942 (Arcade)
Raiden IV (Xbox 360)
Castle of Shikigami III (Wii)

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