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Batsugun - Banpresto of Japan

by S. Ives (Scorpion1999@worldnet.att.net)

Images taken with permission from: Tk's Saturn Page

Lowdown:

    Batsugun is a direct port of the 1993 Toaplan (Truxton, Twin Cobra, Fire Shark) arcade game. It's an excellent vertically-scrolling shooter for one or two players. The "Skull Hornets" fly the Batsugun fighters to bring down the invading enemy forces.
General stuff: There are 3 types of Batsugun fighters from which you can choose, with different pilots for player 1 & player 2: A-Type: Jeeno (1P) & Schneider (2P). The A-Type ship fires a spread shot, much like the "Red" weapon in Raiden. B-Type: Reltiana (1P) & Alteeno (2P). The B-Type ship shoots a thunderbolt laser that covers a fairly small area, but is more damaging to enemies. C-Type: Iceman (1P) & Olisis (2P). The C-Type ship fires a scatter shot.

After the player(s) have made their character selections, they take off from the underwater base. The first level takes place underwater, with formations of 1-hit-kill "cannon fodder" enemies as well as some fairly large enemy ships. The first level is fairly moderate in difficulty, BUT... the intensity and the challenge will jack up as you progress through the game. Soon, the Batsugunboss "Deep Purple" makes a neat appearance. You see a pack of sharks swimming in the water, who suddenly flee before this HUGE boss appears first as a shadow and gradually fades in.

Throughout the game, you enhance your weapons in two ways. The first way is to grab "P" icons to enhance your weapon's performance for its current level. If you die, these are lost and you must collect P's again. Max out on P's and you'll start seeing bonus points with every P you grab. The second way is to get a "Level Up". There's a gauge at the bottom of the screen that shows your Level, from 1 to 3. Trashing the enemies will add to the bar, and when the gauge is full you're raised to the next level. This results in your weapon receiving a MAJOR upgrade in destructive capability, and it also looks cooler as well (especially the B-Type ships' weapon).

You also find "B" icons for additional bombs. By the way, you're also collecting bonus medals as you go (which resemble spinning gold arrowheads). Hang onto them until you finish the current stage and major bonus points can be yours. If you die, there go any bonus medals you've taken. Of course this means that if the stage boss kills you, your bonus after the current stage will be....ZERO! Once you've cleared a stage, your bonus points are tallied while your pilot's picture is shown on screen. Your pilot's comments are in Japanese text though. An English mode would've been nice.

Later in the game, the action has you flying through various environments-such as over land, as well as high up in Batsugunthe clouds (where there's some great parallax). Bigger and badder enemies also await you. Some of the enemies you'll face include small helicopter-type craft, small jets, tanks, robot walkers, aerial battle cruisers, etc. The Stage 4 boss is something really cool, You've got to see it for yourself...

Batsugun also offers a "Special Version" which is a remix of the original game. Options for various screen modes include "Normal" modes, as well as "Arcade" (turn your monitor on its side and it'll look just like the arcade- a feature found in all other Saturn vertical shooters) and "Side" modes (if you don't want to turn your monitor sideways but want the look of the arcade mode, you can play it like a side-scroller). Difficulty levels are also selectable.

In general, Batsugun is a great shooter. Toaplan's expertise with the genre is really evident in this game. The programming team "Gazelle" did a great job with this direct port to Sega Saturn.

Graphics: 9

  • + Parallax scrolling is done very well and gives an illusion of depth.
  • + Neat bosses. The way "Deep Purple" appears at the end of level 1 is cool.
  • + Killer explosions! Certain targets combust really good.
  • + Quite a bit of attention to detail in general, such as the bubbles in the underwater level, the waterfall in level 3, etc...
Sound/Music: 8
  • + The "original" soundtrack is not bad...
  • + but I'm sure you'll find the "arranged" one to be way better. It JAMS!
  • - Certain explosions should've been a little louder.
Gameplay/Control: 10
  • + Your ship controls at a "just right" speed- not sluggish, but not excessively fast.
  • + As in many vertical shooters, you've got a BOMB. Trust me, it'll come in handy.
  • + Weapons can be powered up to cool proportions, especially when you've got your ship's power level up to 3!
  • + The patterns of enemy shots don't really get "cheap" or "unfair". With strategy, you'll be able to dodge & weave through them.
Lasting Power: 9
  • + No unlimited continues. You've got 4 credits to beat the game with.
  • - Two players must share the four credits. This means that after starting a 2P game you've only got 2 continues available to both of you. ARGH!
  • + It's challenging but not to the point of frustration.
  • + Continuing resets your score. You'll keep trying to beat your best scores.
  • - Five stages is just a little short, why not seven?
  • + A "Special Version" has been added. It's essentially a "Remix" but it's good.
Overall: 9

-S. Ives




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