Publisher: Rising Star Games
Medium: Digital/Blu-Ray Disc
In 2001, The Sega Dreamcast was declared dead in the USA, but games continued to be released in Japan. While most of these releases consisted of J-RPG's and Dating Simulators, some were really good vertical and horizontal shooters. For those who still have their beloved Dreamcast, one import shooter that is considered an instant classic is Under Defeat. With its challenging gameplay and outstanding visuals, it's looked as must own for the console. Now, those without a Dreamcast, or the ability to import games have a chance to experience this great shooter with Under Defeat HD, and it's better that the original.
Under Defeat HD is a great example of the Japanese Shoot em up (or shmup) genre with its simple, yet challenging gameplay. The original Dreamcast release featured an odd where you control a Nazi helicopter with some other strange things. This release seems to abandon this and just leaves the hardcore shooting action which is a pretty good move, considering shmups traditionally don't have great stories. The main objective is to blast everything in site, pick up power-ups (or options) and bombs, and continue said destruction until you make it to the boss. Destroying the boss brings you to another area with more enemies to destroy and another boss to conquer! Sounds easy, but the waves of enemies and bosses you will encounter will not go down without a fight an you'll be dodging countless streams of enemy fire throughout each stage. The bosses aren't just larger versions of regular enemies either, with each one more challenging than the last. You will die many times as this game is very unforgiving with it's unescapable bullet walls and limited continues, so expect pain and the occasional thrown controller.
Unlike other horizontal shooters, UD features unique controls that might take some getting used to. Holding down the fire button will give you rapid fire, but your helicopter will be locked in one of three positions that may leave you open to an attack from the side or the front. Thankfully the HD version features an extra control option where you can use both analog sticks for movement and aiming, without stopping your wave of fire. You have an Option that adds some extra firepower when it powers up. The Vulcan or Cannon options are weak but recharge quickly, while the bomb destroys everything in your way, but has limited uses.
As with the original, the graphics are fantastic. This release adds a brand new 16:9 viewing screen and a host of new textures for the ships and backgrounds. What's even better is the occasional slowdown found in the Dreamcast version (which most hardly noticed) is all but removed so the action never slows down, not even a little. The backgrounds are a little drab and plain looking but you'll be too busy dodging bullet walls to really notice. Sound effects mostly consist of explosions and bullet fire. They are well done, but it's nothing to get to excited about. The soundtrack is also nothing special but it is drastically remixed from the original and fits in a bit better.
Under Defeat HD has that special charm that is either loved or hated by shmup fans. Its different controls and high difficulty may be too heavy for those new to the genre, but veterans will feel right at home here. If you enjoy these type of games or you've played the original import, you will like what Rising Star has done. However is you've never experienced a top of the line shmup and you are looking to start getting into them, be aware that this is not going to be an easy ride and you may want to start with something easier. A professional shooter for professional players indeed.