Naxat Soft / Inter State/Kaneko
As much as I enjoy Nexzr, I wasn't sure that I'd find Special's exclusive timed modes particularly worthwhile. I'm usually not a big fan of caravan mini-strips, as the whole "blast up tiles and collect orbs" concept doesn't thrill me and I don't have the patience to muck around and stumble upon tricks necessary for earning super-high scores. Thankfully, Special's special modes don't ask you to do much tile obliterating. For the most part, you can concentrate on free-for-all blasting, setting the heavens aglow with flashy explosions as you proceed.
The large cruisers and wily missile-launching mecha featured in the main game show up to assail you in the timed events, as do a couple of new boss-type opponents. Nothing about the score-centric action is challenging, but it's extremely fast paced and quite enjoyable.
And it makes for the perfect complement to the main game. Nexzr isn't as difficult as, say, Sinistron or Rayxanber II, but it's a tactical shooter that you can't simply blunder your way through, and if you're new to it or haven't played it in a while, progress will likely come piecemeal. So after a wonderfully taxing sit-down with the core game, it's nice to be able to switch over to the anything-goes caravan strip. (But, indeed, I'm always happy to revisit the main game and find that it lives up to the high billing I afford it.)
The unavoidable question is, Which one makes for the most sensible acquisition, "regular" Nexzr or Special? Well, if I could own only one, I'd probably pick the original, as its cinemas strike hard. But I must admit that Special has higher replay value thanks to its well-executed carnival modes, not to mention that it's usually a little cheaper. In a perfect world, we'd have the caravan material and the cinemas all on one disc. As it is, a loony fan like me would suggest acquiring both versions. But either way you go, you're sure to be getting one of the best shooters that the PCE has to offer.