Friday, March 6, 2009


Compile / Naxat Soft

For a new PCE owner looking for a quality shooter, I'd say this is the safest bet aside from Gate of Thunder. Spriggan boasts addictive Aleste-style gameplay; a well-implemented fantasy theme; cool level settings including a beautiful city in the clouds, a creepy insect lair, a factory flooded with awesome-looking lava, and a castle containing a portal to outer space; an atmospheric soundtrack featuring an excellent end-credits tune; gigantic bosses ranging from mutant beasts to mechanical dragons; and a fast-paced score-attack mode.

The game's most noteworthy element may well be its make-your-own-weapon power-up system, which allows players to create all sorts of screen-rocking armaments. Mix and match elemental-based pods (which double as highly destructive bombs) to construct devastating concoctions. Overpower your enemies with slow-moving tornadoes that ravage everything in their path. Enjoy the benefits of wave beams flanking your mecha while dual-stream missiles are constantly launched forth. Summon an aquatic satellite for protection, or inundate the playfield with enormous dancing fireballs.

Due in large part to the remarkable attacks your mecha is capable of unleashing, Spriggan is an easy game, never nearly as challenging or as intense as Blazing Lazers' last few levels. But that's about the only possible flaw to be found in it. It's one of my favorite PCE CD verticals, ranking just behind Nexzr, which has better music, superior cinematics, a higher level of challenge, and more-rewarding gameplay--if inferior weaponry and background graphics.

Protect serene structures of crystal, glass, and stone from soaring sorcerers, aerial attack bases, and a brazen bronze behemoth.

Brilliant visuals lend the game an aspect of beauty: behold the gorgeous waterfall that plays home to steel piranhas in Area 2. Fend off the one-eyed beasts to reach the peak of the cascade, where you'll receive a touchingly warm welcome.

Meticulous attention was paid not only to background art but also to enemy designs. A winged battle-craft and a sickle-wielding gladiator are among the impressive adversaries you'll encounter.

The game does nothing special cinematically, but scenes showing your mecha surveying post-boss-fight carnage do look very good.

Area 3's creepy den of vermin is a veritable gauntlet of terror that pits you against gargantuan spiders, wall-busting worms, and a spiny toad who keeps right on fighting after his head's been blasted off.

Area 4's vibrant, violent, searing sea of lava looks absolutely awesome, as does the gigantic missile-toting boss.

Survive the ogre-inhabited corridors of a dimly lit castle to face off against a gigantic sorcerer. Annihilate the warlock and the floor will give way, revealing a portal leading into outer space, where you'll be forced to fight a robotic dragon.

The final level hosts enormous cannons that fire off massive giga beams in a last-ditch attempt to defeat you. I'm not quite sure what happened to my mecha in this screen, but I don't think it was anything good. ^_^;

That's all right. I lived to fight another day.

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