Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spriggan mark2

Compile / Naxat Soft
Super CD-ROM

It's a shame that mark2 has virtually nothing in common with the fantastic Seirei Senshi Spriggan aside from serving up the same Game Over number and having the player pilot a mecha. The first Spriggan, a gorgeous vert featuring Aleste-style action, was built around an interesting fantasy-meets-technology theme that allowed its designers to run wild with enemy concepts. They took advantage of the opportunity by delivering a multitude of incredible beasts, magic users, and war machines. mark2 ditches the viewpoint and jettisons the fantasy elements, placing in sidescrolling context a crew of small, boring mecha and presenting very few adversaries of note. I don't particularly like SideArms-style gameplay to begin with; implement such a system and give me nothing interesting to shoot at, and your odds of success are very grim indeed.

While mark2 is seldom praised even by its fans for its action elements, it does garner some love for its visual effects, as it doesn't go easy on the parallax and frequently positions enemies in the background just for the sake of having them zoom into the fray from afar. This sort of flashy stuff is nice and all, but technical merits aside, most of the stage and sprite work is pretty freakin' ugly. And in a rare aural lapse, Compile coughed up an annoying soundtrack to accompany the graphical slop.

While their attempt was futile in my mind, mark2's developers obviously hoped to impress audiences with visual razzle-dazzle. Their efforts apparently did not extend to the main mecha's weaponry, however, as the option pods, homing missiles, and beam sabers here seem rather pitiful when compared with the mighty armaments available in the first Spriggan. Even with such meek weapons, decent shooter players will complete the game the first time they sit down with it.

At least there are some surprises in store for those who possess the fortitude to rethrash the enemy with the difficulty cranked up.

I was willing to make such repeat runs because I enjoyed mark2 more as it went along. I had some fun experimenting with the different weapons and figuring out precisely how to make optimal use of them. The experience on the whole wasn't torturous by any means, though it was definitely disappointing and forgettable.

There are those who'll defy a mark2 disparager like me by crying foul when criticisms are accompanied by comparisons of m2 with the very-different first Spriggan--such comparisons as I've freely made throughout this piece. But let's be honest here. The bigwigs responsible for the game's title, for the approach taken with the cover art, for the utilization of the familiar Game Over melody, knew exactly what they were doing: they themselves wanted mark2 to be associated with the successful and well-beloved Seirei Senshi Spriggan. They brought these comparisons on with their own machinations for making mark2 a hit. Sadly, if anything about my mark2 verdict would have been different had there been no such connection, it would simply lie in me considering the game an even less notable entry in the PC Engine annals.

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