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  1. #1

    Ginga Force [X360]

    Spent a couple of hours with this shoot'em'up from Qute, their first game I've played, as I skipped Eschatos.

    A lot of effort has been put into the presentation, with very clean and easy to navigate menus. The character design is...well, this could have used more refinement: it's not excessively bad but it takes some time to get used to, and it never ends in feeling like a character design more adeguate to a doujinshi product rather than a full budget game; but even among those, I've seen worse.
    In-game graphics are, again, very clean and somewhat uninspired. Every item on screen is easily readable though I would have liked more difference between background and foreground, the former doesn't seem separate enough.
    You will notice after starting the game that there is a lot of dialogue, to the point that half of a stage has the various characters talking about something and you will want them to stop. Due to the constant chatter and sound effects I can't really say how the BGMs sound like - I've never heard them. On a side note, the standard volume settings for the game have the BGM quieter than voices and SFX...finally! I hate when a game starts off with all possible sound sources set at the same intensity, making impossible to discern one of them.

    Anyway, the game.
    It's vertical shooter, no TATE mode, but I don't think that Qute was aiming that niche with Ginga Force. As said before, graphics are clean enough to be understood without TATE.
    There are 10 stages and 2 training stages. At the beginning of each stage it's possible to configure the ship with one main weapon, one sub-weapon, special weapon, engine, 3 extra items (like extra time during bosses or extra lives) and a colour palette; this equipment is first unlocked by completing a stage and then purchased at the shop.
    Both main and sub weapons have two gauges: the main weapon gauge constantly depletes even when not firing, the sub-weapon gauge decreases only when firing. These gauges are replenished by collecting blue squared dropped by destroyed enemies, along with credits. Such drops are automatically collected when the ship is near enough, there is no other way to get them, like releasing the fire button for a short while.
    Each stage has one or two gimmicks attached to it: in the first stage you have to avoid trucks, in the second level you have to avoid spotlight that will spawn more enemies, in the third the camera shifts behind the ship during a couple of segments. The game is kept fresh by these changes and though they might involve camera movement, they never really feel out of place, and the core mechanic remains vertical shooting.
    Enemy and bullet patterns are good, they never feel too cheap and there's a good variety in projectile types and how everything is used.
    There's also some bullet-proximity mechanic, where incoming bullets are destroyed if in contact with the ship's nose when firing, but I'm not really sure how it works.

    Training stages are a series of "closed room" challenges against few enemies each room, and it's only possible to chose between three stock configurations.
    Score Attack follows the same phylosophy with three stock ships but it's played on normal stages.

    Right now I can highlight two major problems.
    First: without any extra equipment, the starting ship feels underpowered even for the first stage at normal difficuly. It's possible to beat the stage in one go (if you don't start experimenting with the system) but without in-game powerups, I can't shake the feeling that you have to buy new weapons, even if you the starting pattern is well balanced (focused frontal beam, weaker side shots).
    Second: the main weapon gauge is sometimes very hard to fill. Once depleted, the main weapon loses most of its strenght and especially against bosses, there aren't enough enemies to drop blue square to recharge the gauge. You are not left defenless, but in more than one occasion I sacrificied a life to have all gauges back at full strenght, or the boss would have ran away.
    There are levels that are more prone to leave the main gauge empty (level 2 and level 3's boss) and right now I can say that I don't particularly like this mechanic. I can understand it for the sub weapon (which, ironically, takes longer to deplete than the primary weapon), but not for the main weapon, especially when the game leaves players starving for reacharges, either by not spawning enemies, dropping too few squares, or simply witholding resources.

    Right now I think that Ginga Force is an average shooter, but maybe the later levels will improve this judgement: so far all levels have been varied enough and in constantly better than the previous.

  2. #2
    Thanks for the impressions. I think I'll pick this up later. I read somewhere else that if you have an Eschatos save, it'll unlock an extra ship. Nice sountrack too.

  3. #3
    I'll probably get this too as I love Eschatos.

  4. #4
    VGI have just received their stock so I should hopefully have this tomorrow. Sounds pretty good so far. Hopefully it sells well enough for further support from Qute.

  5. #5
    Yesterday I had an other good session with Ginga Force, and I must say I'm starting to quite enjoy it.
    The last levels are extremely good, especially level 9. However I still think that you have to first play Easy mode to unlock some weapons and equipment (like decreased weapon power usage, or homing secondary weapons) not to feel underpowered in Normal mode.
    The difficulty curve is also a bit wild, with levels 3, 5 and 7 being a lot easier than their direct predecessors; level 9, on the other hand, offers a severe spike in difficulty and probably relies a it too much on pattern memorisation, something only hinted in previous levels. But yeah, it's engaging enough to keep you coming for all difficulty levels, and this is thanks to the high variety levels offer: in level 1 the camera shifts behind your ship to dodge hovertrucks knocked over by what will be the level's boss; in level 2 you have to disable security drones by just damaging them; level 4 is just one huge boss; in level 5 you have to push the boss off a shuttle (by shooting at him, of course).
    Levels are structured as missions, between them there's the possibility to purchase new weapons and revise the ship's loadout, though item configuration is mostly a matter of personal preference rather than a necessity to beat a level.
    I can't hide that I was expecting a below-average to average product, I find myself surprised with the overall quality...enough to make me consider going and buy Eschatos as well.

  6. #6
    Eschatos is great; a great looking and sounding game

    Should have my ginga force tomorrow.

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by BIG EDD View Post
    Is this multiregion?
    Sure is

  9. #9
    Is there a way to cut out the constant chatter you mentioned, in the options?

    How it doesnt interfere with the bgm too much

  10. #10
    Probably, I'll have to check; I'm sure you can turn down voices down to zero. Menus are in English except for the items, which have pretty straightforward icons anyway.

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