About 15 years ago I finally stumped up about £70 (just over $100) for this beautiful isometric shooting game on SNK’s fabled NeoGeo console. I couldn’t get the Japanese version (nicer box art) but I was more than content with the European version because the game was no different.
I loved everything about the game. The type of game is one of my favourites – a shmup – where you control a tiny ship and dodge bullets while shooting waves of enemies. I can’t help it, I’m childish that way.
The graphics are beautiful; the colours are bold, the animation is smooth, and there is a lavish attention to detail. The graphics style is unusual, the game is viewed in “isometric 3D” … SEGA’s Zaxxon was (possibly?) the earliest shooting game to use this perspective. Even now, there are only a handful that do. Parasquad on SEGA’s 32X is one that spring to mind, but that uses what now appears clumsy 3D instead of, the still ever-so-fetching, highly polished 2D sprites of Viewpoint.
The music is very 80s, but screams of fun and somehow works perfectly to set scenes of joyous panic. And the sound effects don’t drown out the tunes … something that can irk me tremendously.
Actually, I lied. I don’t love everything about this game. There is one problem. A pretty big one too. The game is HARD. I mean REALLY BLOODY HARD. I have owned it for 15 years and today, for the first time ever, I reached level 3. LEVEL THREE. That’s really not very far is it? But I was BUZZING. Really pumped as, on my last life, I finally killed that bastard crab at the end of level two. I got so excited I took pictures – not sure if I feared I dreamed it all, or that I would NEVER get there again!
This is the start of level 3. My ship was flashing at the start .. games of this ilk often give you a few second of invulnerability, at the start of the level, when there are no enemies about. Very kind 😦 My previous highest score was about 128,000. Scores don’t really matter in games like this; it’s all about getting past a certain level. But hey 🙂 Level 3.
This big purple robotic slug was brand new. Obviously I had to shoot his (or her?) babies and dive into the black hole behind them.
Somehow, I threaded my way from one “smart bomb” to another and butt-clenched my way through waves of bullets. Did I mention that this was my last life? Meep.
Now this was level 3’s boss. A curious fly that was shooting at me and a rapid centipede like companion that was also shooting at me. I had no idea how their attacks would work. However, I had one trick up my sleeve – if I fired lots of little bullets the game slowed down just enough to give me a fighting chance. And I managed to damage it so that it turned around and showed me his posterior. For reasons of decency, I dare not share that image. Anyway, he killed me. Or his bottom laser did. But I was physically shaking .. so excited after just playing an old-fashioned game. And you know what? I still love Viewpoint. You should too – give it a go, be brave!
My final death score