Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Somer Assault


Ever the iconoclasts, the folks at Atlus presented Turbo players with one of the more intriguing characters ever to appear in a video game. The hero of Somer Assault just happens to be a crafty battle-slinky, one who's going up against a rather ill-intentioned sorceress. Quite the clever evildoer, the no-good villainess recruited the mighty, malicious representatives of the zodiac symbols to help her carry out her despicable plans.

The Somer Assault adventure is divided up into twelve mazelike levels, each of which concludes with a showdown between your slinky and one of the zodiac warriors. The odd little hero is hardly defenseless as he flips and flops his way through each stage: he can fire off shots at various angles (the direction that your bullets fly in is dependent upon the position that our flexible protagonist is in while blasting) and nab icons that will grant him invincibility, extra cannons, and additional speed. There are various contraptions contained within each level that can help or hinder your efforts at exploration, including teleportation blocks that warp the slinky to distant locations. While you’ll encounter a fair share of hostile creatures, the main challenge will be solving the mazes before the time you're granted runs out.

In keeping with its astrological theme, Somer Assault requires you to enter your birthdate whenever you begin a new game. When you encounter the boss creature that represents your zodiac symbol, you’ll receive quite a "birthday present" (a veritable smorgasbord of power-ups). Obviously, your journey will be a lot less strenuous after this encounter; but considering that the day you enter determines when you'll receive the present, putting off the party for a while by entering a late-in-the-year date is basically like upping the level of difficulty.

Somer Assault appealed to me instantly, as it's both exciting and refreshingly original, and it just doesn't get old. The mazelike levels are enjoyable if simplistic; the novelty of playing as a slinky never wears off; the music is nice; and the graphics are appealing enough, with some pretty backdrops here and there.

Of course, the game reaches its highest points of excitement during the dramatic zodiac-boss encounters. The bronze giants look great and perform some awesome (and lethal) attacks, and the grim music that accompanies the fights is excellent.

SA is definitely a fun game, but there are a few things I would change about it if I could:

The exchange between the slinky and the sorceress at the beginning is quite entertaining. I would've liked to have seen more such exchanges take place.

I wish Atlus had made the levels larger and dropped the time limit so that players could explore the labyrinths and find secrets at their leisure instead of racing against a clock.

More regular enemies would've been nice, as there are very few and they're mostly meek. Some cooler weaponry (so that the slinky could evolve into a true beast of destruction) would've been awesome as well.

The battle with the evil heads at the very end seems out of place and unnecessary. The fight with the Mimickers that takes place right before it would've made for the perfect final encounter.

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