Based around the Wii release Radirgy Noa, Radirgy Noa Massive (RNM) is a vertical shooter, which comprises of eight stages. It would be fair to assume about now that many will shrug and say "so what?" as they continue to collect chips in Ketsui or Crowns in Death Smiles, but RNM deserves some attention due to how well it presents itself.
If anything it will draw would-be players' interest to just how lovely the art style in RNM is, one that translates well to High-Definition. The pseudo cel-shaded look means everything pops with detail and both enemy placements and their subsequent bullets are easily recognised, meaning nobody will ever feel as if they died cheaply or unfairly. The impressive visuals carry throughout the game from start to finish, with some very distinct boss fights as well, with a dash of the seminal PaRappa the Rapper to one or two of them in look and design. In the later levels the visuals always look crisp and clean and once it starts to throw all manner of insanity at the player, it still looks impressive.
Controls are fairly standard for the genre. The standard shot is accompanied by a sword attack that can be charged up when required, however there is no bomb function, which might come as a surprise to some. To help with the more intense and intricate bullet patterns when later levels start to ramp up the difficultly, the player can engage the final weapon in their arsenal, the ABS. Comprising of a meter on the left hand side of the display that fills up with pills disgorged from destroyed enemies. Once initiated a barrier will provide an x2 multiplier to all enemies vanquished as well as a certain amount of invulnerability. If enough enemies are killed before the meter runs down, and the ABS is kept active, this will continue to double the current multiplier level until it reaches x16, but can be further boosted to x32 if you start to combine the ABS with a charged sword attack.
This will most certainly appeal to those looking to kettle enemies together to maximise their score at every opportunity, but there's also enough scope for those who play purely for survival to gain a lot from getting to grips with the intricacies of the system. Once players grasp even the basics they will find their scores and skills increasing such is the straight forward nature of the design. In later levels it can become easy to achieve some impressive scores due to the sheer volume of enemies and bullets on screen at any given time. The only slight downer is no hint as to when the ABS starts to run down where a meter to keep track of such things would've been welcomed instead of the vague text above the ABS meter. Surely it wouldn't have been hard to engineer something into the User Interface?
There's the usual array of power-ups to collect and in keeping with the games' aesthetic, they're almost lurid in their brightness. The Red power-up is a cross, or X firing pattern which is most fitting considering the platform its hosted on, while Green is a more standard shot and Yellow provides a front and sideways shot. As always personal preference will dictate exactly what will be used, but it seemed quite apparent that the X pattern provided quite a kick in terms of firepower, or maybe again that falls back to what feels immediate and comfortable.
Nobody could ever accuse RNM of lacking a varied selection of modes and there is plenty to cater for just about every taste. The ubiquitous Arcade mode is accentuated with Classic, and Extend (unlocked by inputting a code that can be found elsewhere on the internet), but by far the standout of these modes is the rather excellent Massive mode which is all about scoring as many points as possible before the timer runs down. The excitement of trying to keep the multiplier as high as possible while not being tagged by a stray shot from an enemy as the relentless march of the timer screams at the player is addictive and compelling in a challenging manner, never in a frustrating way.
Death mode pits the player against a never-ending succession of enemies, where to not be downing enemy ships is to lose health and the health bar they have is chipped away bit by bit until all remaining health is depleted and itís time to input the initials for the scoreboards.
Those with either experience of the other Radirgy titles or shmups in general won't be particularly troubled by any of these modes, or the strategies on offer within RNM. For the most part the first few levels of Arcade mode will feel a tad subdued, only really flexing their muscles in the later levels. When it does and the action kicks up a notch it feels more alive, literally bristling at what it can really do and it is most welcomed. Maybe MileStone were keen to draw players in without putting them off, but challenge is always welcome, especially in the shooter genre, and there's nothing on show here that would put anyone off in truth, and if it is an issue, there is a difficulty option for those who wish to test themselves more than the default settings do.
Even at its default setting, a few hours spent in the company of RNM will certainly make for a pleasant change from the sometimes brutal challenge a Cave title for example might prove. Nothing here is beyond even the most casual of shooter fans, and the aforementioned visual design will appeal to those looking for a different take on the genre. It's almost as if it knows it can't compete with the more stellar titles out there, and as such its geared itself somewhere in the middle, almost a stepping stone for those put off by the more serious tone and entry level of a Cave shooter while still catering for the high end players who could probably clear this without loss of health and chaining all the way to the final boss encounter.
The overriding impression that Radirgy Noa Massive leaves is one of accessibility. While it might not reach the level of sophistication or intricacy of its more illustrious peers, Radirgy Noa Massive will appeal to those looking for something different.