It is safe to say that Ultimate Shooting Collection from UFO Interactive is far from the Ultimate Shooting Collection that most shoot ‘em up (shmup) fans dream of (a compilation disc that features Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga and Mars Matrix to name only a select few). However, in a time where most shmups seem to be XBLA or PSN bound it is nice to see a publisher paying some respect to the genre starved Wii. Even if those shmups just so happen to have been previously released on last generation consoles.
Ultimate Shooting Collection for the Nintendo Wii features three top-down shmups from Japan-based developer Milestone: Radio Allergy, Karous and Chaos Field. Chaos Field as some may recall was previously released a few years back on the Nintendo GameCube, whereas Radio Allergy and Karous; this is the first time they are setting foot on US soil…’er flying around in US air space. But like Chaos Field, all three have been previously released in Asian territories on the Sega Dreamcast. So in essence, it really should be called Milestone Shooting Collection. At any rate it is what it is so let’s move on and take a deeper look into the depths of bullet hell.
Directly from the game’s streamlined, easy-to-navigate Main Menu players will immediately notice that all games are readily accessible. There are no restrictions that require the completion one game in order to unlock the next like some other compilation titles force players to do. Also from the Main Menu players will notice an Options Menu. From the Options Menu players are able to change their screen setup from Vertical to Horizontal, depending on their setup through the Screen Mode function, view the game’s Staff Credits (pretty basic one-screen list of credits) and as a added bonus UFO Interactive has included a Sound Test where players can sample tracks from all three games.
Without starting a heated debate, I would say that all of the audio tracks fall into the “electronic” genre: house, industrial, techno, trance. Now you’ll have to forgive me if I misinterpret one of the aforementioned genres as I don’t listen to them frequently enough to be able to discern key differences. Nitpicking aside, Ultimate Shooting Collection features some pretty killer audio tracks.
It just a shame that there isn’t an option that permits players to adjust the sound effects. Once in game, the audio tracks take a backseat to game’s the sound effects where they are forced to play second fiddle (this applies to all three titles). It is unfortunate that UFO Interactive was unable to include each game’s soundtrack on one disc as a pack in with the game, but it is a welcome feature that only adds to the overall value and presentation. And at the sweet price of $29.99 ($10 a game) it is difficult to complain about the hypothetical.
Note for Screen Mode: If Horizontal is selected when a Vertical set up is present the controls will change with it, making for one hell of an interesting time navigating not only through the menus, but in game as well. So consider yourself warned.
Adding a bit of variety to the mix, Ultimate Shooting Collection supports the use of the Wii Remote in conjunction with the Nunchuk, the Classic Controller and the GameCube Controller. In my opinion, its the little things like this that are most often taken for granted and really do go a long way when it comes to the overall gameplay experience of a title. Fortunately for Wii owners there exists such a luxury as switching between controller types.
And while each game features the unique mechanic that is “Bullet Slahing,” which allows players to clear most enemy fire off of the screen using their ship’s sword through a light shake of the Wii Remote or through the use of the B Button (by default), each game is fairly unique in its own respect.
The story behind Chaos Field is a fairly clear-cut classic struggle between the forces of light (the Human race) and the forces of dark (the mysterious “ABO”), but told through a post-apocalyptic shmup. After 10 years of fighting the humans are on the verge of overthrowing the dreaded ABO, but one last battle is at hand. It is up to three brave souls: Hal and his plane Mixed Blue, Ifumi and her plane Flawed Red and Jinn and his plane Fake Yellow. All three character’s planes have different attributes and weapons which is pretty standard when it comes to shmups with multiple characters/ships/planes. But the unique hook within Chaos Field doesn’t lie within its playable characters or its story, it lies within the ability to switch back and forth between two separate “fields.” Players can choose to switch between the “Order” field and “Chaos” field. The Chaos field obviously referring to the ABO and the Order field referring to the humans.
By default the game starts off in the Order field. While in the Order field boss attacks will seem fairly standard, and bullet patterns will be clearly defined with plenty of negative space in which to navigate, but when players switch over to the Chaos field the game takes on a more sinister appearance and instantly transforms from a walk in the park to pure, concentrated bullet hell. In the Chaos field boss attacks become more intense with enemy fire blanketing the screen, and patterns become immensely more difficult to map out and navigate. But fear not, as all hope is not lost as there are a couple of benefits to entering and exiting the Chaos field.
While in the Chaos field the plane’s attacks become more powerful and its lock-on attacks nullify all enemy fire. When entering and exiting the Chaos field the plane will become invincible for a short period of time, and since players cannot liberally switch between fields at will, they should instead use this as a defensive tactic to avoid sticky situations. Think of entering the Chaos field as taking a deep breath in and submerging yourself underwater for a long period of time: eventually you are going to need to surface and come up for air if you wish to survive. So with that said, exercise caution when venturing into the Chaos field and remember, the best offense is a good defense.
Unlike most shoot ‘em ups, where players face wave after wave of suicide fighters before reaching the boss at the end of the level, Chaos Field consists of a series of 5 Phases (levels), each with three scenes and three boss battles, for a total of 15 consecutive boss battles. While this seems like a clever and fresh approach to a trite and true formula, the battles are easily forgettable and don’t really have that jaw-dropping “wow” factor that’s found in other shmups like Giga Wing or the classic R-Type even.
Completing Chaos Field will take a lot of practice and memorization of patterns as players are only allotted 3 continues. Why they didn’t add an unlimited continue, free play mode is beyond me. And unless it is an unlockable feature, seeing as how I have yet to complete the game, it would appear that the “Original” mode that was featured in the Game Cube version of the game has been cut from this version for reasons unknown. In “Original” mode several waves of enemy ships would be thrown at the player in order to break up the monotony of boss battle after boss battle.
Still, players who have patience and skill should find some joy in Chaos Field, but those who crave a shmup with a little more content should look elsewhere.
The last third party game to be released on the Dreamcast, Karous is similar in gameplay to that of Radio Allergy, but casts itself apart by giving players the opportunity to customize their bird-like ship by leveling up different aspects of their ship through shot, sword and shield. In Karous players assume the role of a 13 year old girl of the same name who seeks to avenge the death of her parents, who unbeknownst to her is the offspring of human father from Earth and a goddess mother from the Heavenly Kingdom. Her hybrid blood is her connection between both worlds.
Unlike Chaos Field and Radio Allergy, players are given the option to choose from three modes of gameplay: 3 Screens, 5 Screens and 5 Screens with increased difficulty – with screens referring to levels. Seeing as how there is little to no downtime, I rarely found much reason to let off of the fire button so I kept it suppressed. The gameplay is frantic, fast paced and should keep players unflinching and highly attentive. My biggest gripe with Karous is the extremely difficult to read on-screen text. Not only does it fly by rather fast, but it is almost undecipherable to the human eye. Not that it is imperative to the gameplay, but if its there it should be decipherable without placing strain on the eyes. After all, what is a gamer without his/her eyesight? Also, after completing a level a quick flash of an indiscernible graphic (presumably an element of story progression) is shown and then just as fast as it appeared is taken off screen leaving a solid black loading screen for an average of 8 seconds.
While the HUD in Karous, at first glance, may seem overwhelming and convoluted it is positioned quite well and does not hinder gameplay in the slightest. In fact, its rather stylish. While the colors are a bit muted and dark, it suits the game’s mood perfectly, thus making it clear that Milestone was going for a gothic shmup.
Proving to be a bit more generous with continues, Karous supplies players with with 5 continues, which most players who selected the 5 Screen mode will undoubtedly need.
Boss battles prove to be a tad bit more memorable, but still fall short of of being encoded into long term memory. In other words, once players beat a boss its likely that they will forget about it shortly thereafter.
In Radio Allergy players assume the role of 16 year old Kamigu Shizuru who like numerous others, has begun to suffer allergy-related symptoms related to large amounts of electric waves present in a technologically flourishing Tokyo. When a terrorist organization by the name of “UMBRA” overthrows a company of scientists and researchers out to find a medicinal cure to counter the allergic outbreak it is up to Shizuru and her friend Aita Tadayo to put an end to their intrusion.
Radio Allergy, my personal favorite of the three, may fall short in the graphics and detail department, but makes up for its graphical presentation by offering a wide array of vibrant colors throughout the game, a rather light-hearted, comedic feel that players will either love or loathe and various fighter options. Fighters options that include three different fighter speeds along with three different weapon types: Wide Shot, 123 Laser and the Jumbo Shot, which may look rather ridiculous seeing as how the ship fires off wavew of giant bubbles, but believe it or not, it is probably the most effective weapon due to its spread across the playing field. While the colorful, almost cell-shaded appearance of Radio Allergy may feel reminiscent of shooters found on the Super Nintendo it fits the game’s style, character design and soundtrack almost perfectly.
Boss battles are short, but fun and there is enough variation in enemies to keep gamers satisfied. When certain enemies or enemy formations are destroyed they will leave behind a power up that will result in one of several outcomes depending on what item is collected. If said items are attacked by means of the sword the player can cycle through them in order to obtain to the preferred item. Items can add points to a player’s overall score, add a point multiplier (Antenna), increase the ship’s firepower, provide the ship with a temporary shield or repair damage to the ship (Network Gauge). In pure old-school Japanese game fashion the point-based items that most land-based enemies drop after being destroyed are completely nutty: ice cream, shrubberies, fruit, umbrellas, playing cards…you get the picture. It all adds to the game’s cute and quirky aesthetic.
While it isn’t going to win any awards in the graphics department, Radio Allergy is easy enough for beginning-intermediate players to dive into without feeling too overwhelmed. And if the default setting feels too easy for the shmup veterans out there Radio Allergy, like Karous and Chaos Field offers players the option to select a Hard Mode from the in game Options Menu.
If you can get past its shortcomings, UFO Interactive’s Ultimate Shooting Collection is a welcome addition to the Wii library that should please even the most hardened shoot ‘em up fan. And although it doesn’t feature a multiplayer mode, online leaderboards, unlimited continues or the option to adjust the game’s sound effects, its quick pick-and-play nature is enough to make this game plenty satisfying. Gamers should be hard pressed not to consider this buy at only $29.99.
This is a pretty straight forward collection of shooters. While its simplicity works out to its advantage don’t expect to find a rich, engaging story.
Three fairly satisfying titles on one disc (two of which are being released in the US for the first time.) should please most shmup fans who have yet to get their hands on them. Integrated Wii Remote motion gameplay and support for all controller types.
Its not going to win any awards, but it is passable and was the shoot ‘em up standard for the time.
Fantastic collection of “electronic” tracks. Ability to sample all tracks from Options Menu. Lacks option to adjust sound effects.
A great collection of games that’s easy to pick up and play and doesn’t require hours of investment in order to enjoy. Lacks multiplayer and bonus content: i.e. unlockable gameplay modes, art, ships, etc.
|OVERALL (Based on 100 possible points)||77|
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