GAME REVIEWS

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nexzr

~ NEXZR ~
Naxat Soft / Inter State/Kaneko
Super CD-ROM
1992

Nexzr is a no-nonsense novice stomper, an excellent but demanding shooter that requires good reflexes along with a good bit of scheming. Its challenges are always fair, but be warned that it employs a checkpoint system of resuming play after death, and it doesn't hesitate to hurl you back quite a ways should the enemy forces manage to annihilate you. It actually is magnanimous in some respects: available for you to acquire are myriad brands of effective auxiliary armament, including killer drones that relentlessly pursue and blast up your opposition and energy beams that home in on and tear through adversarial craft.


A good memory helps as much as a good laser cannon, but while Nexzr can indeed be viewed as a "thinking man's shooter," don't believe for even a second that it's an R-Type-like plodder. There's plenty of bullet evasion to be performed while you're trying to recall which enemies will show up where, and some intense stretches focus solely on pure shoot-and-weave action, the most notable of which has you flank an enormous battleship while fending off shield-bearing sentry-bots.



End-of-stage duels pit you against mechanical gladiators as memorable as any other 16-bit-shooter bosses. Particularly impressive is a speedy contraption that litters your path with mines as you chase it down a corridor and then halts to don armor and assail you with laser beams and scythe-like projectiles.



Interestingly, the mini-bosses that halt your advancement and initiate mid-level showdowns are tougher than their enormous commanders, as they craftily find ways to limit the space in which you can maneuver.



But Nexzr's finest featured battle is its final featured battle, a true man-to-man slugfest as opposed to a typical "obliterate a wall/cannon/spaceship" sort of exercise.


My one complaint about the game is that every stage except the sixth employs an outer-space canvas.


(And the sixth is a decent-looking but somewhat typical "base.")

If you hold your fire while navigating Stage 6's claustrophobic stretch of corridors, the tiny bug-like machines will kindly leave you be. Good luck getting your drones and your other foes to adhere to the ceasefire.

Some variety in the backdrops definitely would've been welcome. The outstanding soundtrack, on the other hand, offers a great deal of variety, applying touches of hard rock to an upbeat and exciting score. It comes off as a melding of T's-style instrumentation and Falcom-brand melodies, featuring an irresistible hook in Stage 3, a dark dirge in Stage 4, and a nostalgia-inducing lead in Stage 6.

The cinemas also strike a nostalgic chord with me: I can't help but think of Robotech: The New Generation while witnessing Nexzr's tragic opening sequence and "Bernard vs. Corg"-like final engagement.


I acquired Nexzr a number of years ago and played through it at once. I quite enjoyed the experience and continued singing the game's praises as the months and years passed; and upon meditating on the matter, I concluded that it's my favorite PCE CD vertical shooter.

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