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ALLTYNEX Second

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RefleX (リフレクス) - Windows PC (2008)

Japanese box art

Box art (japanese)

Title Screen

Title Screen

In the far future of the 25th century tensions arise as the power hungry, corrupt government is looking more and more like an outright tyranny. Its opponent is a relatively small resistance group called Valkyness, which, backed by Church of the Snake, and with the help of a famous professor Guehala Dennis, has just developed an unique fighter, Phoenix Mk. 2, which could easily shift the balance of power. The problem is, there is only one of it, and in order to mass produce it, Valkyness must deliver its plans to their moon base. Since the entire Earth army is in the way, a diversion is created so that a lone carrier may evade pursuit. The mission begins with a disaster though, as the carrier is destroyed in a surprise attack, from which only the Phoenix escapes. Faced with little choice, its pilot decides to press onward and somehow deliver the ship to the moon by himself. This decision will prove to be pivotal for the fate of the entire humanity...

RefleX

RefleX

RefleX is probably the oddest game in the trilogy. It began its life as solo project of a man known as Ysuer, and was first released as a freeware proof of concept called Reflection, way back in 1998 before the developer joined forces with SITER SKAIN... and took the next nine years to complete and fine-tune it. Design-wise, it still has very little in common with either KAMUI or ALLTYNEX Second - there are no powerups at all, there's only one life, albeit with six hit points replenished at two points in the game, using a continue completely invalidates the score - the other two games simply record the score at the point of death - and there is a lot of focus on the plot, with actual, cutscenes, and a text-heavy interlude.

The player ship in this game has "only" two tricks to it - one's a typical basic gun, pretty much the same as in KAMUI, however with an important change: it actually starts out at full power and gets weaker as the ship's power meter gets depleted. The other trick is as brilliant as it is anathematic to the typical shoot-'em-up gameplay: the Phoenix is equipped with a reflection shield capable of reflecting, or at least nullifying, every non-physical attack thrown at it. It gets better - reflected homing lasers home on the enemies instead, and can even be bounced multiple times, literally clearing entire screens of enemies. Since all reflected bullets are significantly more powerful than Phoenix's own gun, and enemies destroyed by reflected shots in quick succession ramp up the bonus multiplier, the encouraged play style is to charge straight into enemy fire, preferably at just the right angle to actually hit something with reflected shots. The player can't be reckless, however, the shield quickly depletes the ship's power, lasting just a few seconds at best, and it can't make the ship completely invulnerable - collision damage still applies, whether it's the enemies charging the ship, or the dangerous homing missiles launched in swarms.

RefleX

RefleX is considerably longer than its predecessor, a single run taking around 50 minutes. This is partially because the stages are simply longer, and there are more of them, the first two even being subdivided into parts A and B, each ending with a boss, but the main reason is that the overall pace is slower, more deliberate, with boss fights having multiple phases to tear through, and there even are three incredibly powerful enemies that take up an entire stage with no extra distractions each. Despite the slower pace though, the game feels incredibly intense - it opens up with a huge explosion of the carrier that was carrying Phoenix, the fighter scrambling at the last second, and from then on the action is almost non-stop, with the player usually being right in the middle of it, rather than away in a safe spot. The bosses also deliver - starting with Scorpio, the Stage 2B boss, they really put a pressure on the player, attacking from multiple sides, changing tactics midfight, or simply filling the entire screen with bullet curtains that would put a typical danmaku to shame.

In his pursuit of challenge the developer did put in one very controversial thing, however - the final two stages, while still firmly revolving around the reflection mechanic, radically alter the rules of the game - the reflection shield gains infinite use, but the ship loses most of its side-shooting guns and entire armor. This makes any mistake fatal, the homing missiles even more dangerous to the player, and kicks up the overall difficulty quite a bit. Since the game is already rather hard (with no options to change difficulty!), this alteration in gameplay will result in a lot of frustration, even after the player manages to adapt. Furthermore, just before the final stage, right in the middle of the mechanics switch, there's a rather abrupt, lengthy interlude that explains background information and does a good job of runing the flow of action. While it can be skipped with a single button press, and while the information does explain some abrupt discrepancies between stages 7 and 8, namely that several very busy years have passed in between, one can't help but feel that it could be much shorter and on point, with the more elaborate parts moved to the ending sequence.

RefleX

RefleX

Where KAMUI's visuals could be considered average at best, RefleX shows a definite improvement. It is still a 2D game, albeit with some minor, simple 3D plane effects, most noticeable in the orbital platform level. The sprite work is cleaner, much more recognizable for Earth ships and noticeably alien for the mysterious invaders, and while a lot of the animation is done via simple software rotation of parts, many crafts do possess at least a few individual frames. The developers even managed a rare trick, actually conveying a sense of great speed without abusing any artificial blur effects. The game's soundtrack is also a departure from KAMUI's style, being the best in the Alltynex trilogy - most tracks are an eclectic mix of orchestra and synths, with the boss themes being an unusual combination of organs and hard rock. As odd as it may seem, it's pretty great and hectic, meshing well with the gameplay and the overall mood of the game.

RefleX is the most plot involved game of the three. What's unusual, apart from the abrupt timeskip/interlude just before the final stage, there's not a single word uttered over the course of the game. Instead, the description of the events and background is chiefly relegated to related materials: the game manual (there is actually one!) offers a reasonably detailed narration of the events leading up to the plot, the stage replay mode displays a few sentences describing the stage events from the pilot's perspective, and the sound test mode offers a plethora of technical detail regarding the various ships and factions. Everything else is simply told via the gameplay and the few, short cutscenes made with the game engine, like the huge laser blast from behind at the end of Stage 4, or a former enemy marked as "FRIEND" diving in with fire support on stage 6. Especially memorable is the midpoint of stage 7, which marks the aforementioned change in gameplay and might be one of the most devilish things pulled off in a shoot-'em-up. The tone of the game is pretty bleak from the get go, Stage 1 starting with a disaster and a player punch to those familiar with ALLTYNEX Second, and things only get worse from then on, ending on an only very slightly more positive note than Radiant Silvergun. In spite of that, it's amazing how many pretty iconic scenes the developers managed to fit in it, it's almost one awesome moment after another - there's a fight in an orbital catapult where the boss enemy keeps attacking literally from all sides, there's a stage where the Phoenix dodges its way through the entire hostile human fleet, the duel against the battleship Cancer begins in hyperspace and continues above the Moon's surface, and the final stage deserves an extra special mention, starting out as an intense, bullet heavy one-on-one with the final boss, before a third side intervenes and ramps things up even further.

In the end, RefleX is a real treat for any shoot-em-up fan. It begins with a bang and keeps escalating properly, its core idea is ingenious, it is tough and challenging, but at the same time it's brilliantly designed and put together with utmost care. It is amazing, and not just "for a doujin game" - it is definitely one of the best vertical SHMUPs released on any system, period.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • SITER SKAIN

Publisher:

  • SITER SKAIN
  • Nyu Media

Designer:

  • Ysuer

Genre:

Themes:


RefleX

RefleX

RefleX

RefleX

RefleX

RefleX

RefleX

RefleX


ALLTYNEX Second (アルティネクス セカンド) - Windows PC (2010)

Japanese box art

Box art (japanese)

Title Screen

Title Screen

The year is 2192. A worldwide administration AI called ALLTYNEX suddenly goes berserk, and within just a few days an army of unmanned drones under its control wipes out almost the entire humanity. Those fortunate enough to survive flee to the outer reaches of the solar system, but hostile conditions mean that the population is slowly dwindling, so 40 years later the remaining humans are just a single fleet around Jupiter. In a desperate bid they prepare their ships of to serve as a decoy and draw ALLTYNEX's attention, and construct 108 fighters called Armed Saboteurs, essentially flying coffins packed with as much firepower as possible, whose only mission is to break through and destroy ALLTYNEX before the humanity is wiped out completely.

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second is actually not a completely original game, but instead a remake, a rather faithful one at that, of an old FM Towns game called Raid Wind 2: Alltynex, made by one of SITER SKAIN's founders. It is also the first fully 3D SITER SKAIN game, and it survived the technology leap mostly intact. Overall, it has a bit more in common with KAMUI, than it does with RefleX, sharing some design points like multiple lives, a form of powerup, a homing weapon, and a powerful beam weapon, but in the end it is still its own thing, distinct from the previous two games.

For one, the player ship is definitely unlike the KAMUI or the Phoenix. The Armed Saboteur possesses two combat modes: the ranged mode, and the blade mode, each with a basic attack and a special attack. The ranged mode behaves like a typical space fighter, the basic attack being a "gatling" gun pretty similar to the one employed by the Phoenix, and just as tied to the ship's power bar, while the special attack launches familiar homing lasers that drain the ship's power bar at a moderate rate. Both attacks are rather weak - this is balanced by the ship's other mode. The blade mode slows the ship down noticeably, makes it automatically turn towards the nearest "strong" enemy, and brandish two large laser blades that will deal massive damage to everything, including bosses. The special attack in this mode is a powerful and useful beam attack called the Buster Rifle, that will drain the ship's power reserves very quickly. Both attacks are also the ship's main defense mechanism - while Armed Saboteurs start with an active defensive layer, it will only allow to survive a single hit and is not replenishable. Instead, blade attacks and beam attacks will instantly cancel many types of bullets they hit. That's a good thing, too - in order to deal any noticeable damage to boss enemies, the player will have to either rely on a very limited supply of power to spam Buster Rifle, or to find just the right spot and time to get in close and deal maximum damage.

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

The aforementioned power bar, combined with the scoring system, serves to complicate things even further. By itself, the ship very slowly recharges its power up to gatling level 5. The process can be sped up by collecting crystals dropped by destroyed enemies and cancelled bullets. This is a rather difficult task in blade mode, but the fighter mode automatically and near instantly attracts all crystals, rewarding swapping modes in a firefight. Further incentive is presented via the scoring system - chains of enemies destroyed in fighter mode give increasing point rewards (up to 25 600 per enemy) and raise blade mode score multiplier from the base 2x up to 16x. Thus the fighter mode favours long chains of weak enemies, while the blade mode is most effective score-wise against strong enemies, and maximizing stage score will depend on careful juggling of both. This time around scoring high even holds an extra incentive for 1CC runs: unlike in KAMUI or RefleX, there are extra lives awarded at certain point milestones.

ALLTYNEX Second is not a long game, 5 stages of, admittably very fast paced, action is all it can offer, although there are various difficulty levels, an extra ship to unlock that plays quite differently, and a "return shot" mode that makes every killed enemy fire off one last curtain of bullets. The stage design sadly isn't as imaginative as it was in RefleX, though it still has its moments, for example Stage 2 consists of systematic destrucion of a space station's defenses before taking on its main cannon literally just as it is about to fire on the human fleet, while the final leg of Stage 4 has the player speeding close to the ground, dodging around an orbital beam cannon blast in a pretty spectacular charge.

Like in KAMUI, the graphics and sound are the weakest element of the game. The game is in full 3D, but it's not very advanced in that aspect, especially for a game released in 2010. Aside from an occassional lens flare, there simply aren't that many special effects applied, and the model and texturing work is on the simpler side. Instead, the processing power goes to make sure the action stays very fast and smooth. It helps that the game doesn't bother to shove its 3D right in the player's face, like some other titles do, keeping its playfield readable instead, enemy bullets and enemies sharply distinct from the background most of the time. Apart from cutscenes and the Replay Mode, where it is an option, there are very few perspective shifts, and those that are there, serve to help the player avoid enemy attacks. The music is an obvious homage to FM Towns in its style, but while some tunes are quite catchy, the most the player will remember will probably be the annoying synth guitar and shrill synth organ dominating most of it.

Overall, ALLTYNEX Second is probably the most complex and challenging out of the three. The scoring mechanics are a bit more complex than usual, the ship takes a while to get used to and is very fragile compared to the Phoenix or the KAMUI. While it doesn't have an off-the-charts difficulty spike like RefleX, there are two bossess that are significantly more challenging than the rest - one's understandably the final boss, Satariel, but the other is Ajattara, the Stage 3 boss, which is much harder than anything before or after it, possibly even Satariel itself. Other than that, it's still a pretty good game, just not as tight as KAMUI, or as brilliant as RefleX.

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

As of late 2015, ALLTYNEX Second remains the last game published by SITER SKAIN, although the company is still active. The current project is Drag Arms (ドラグアームズ), and seems to be a 360 degree shoot-'em-up, but other than an occassional dev screenshot, there isn't much information available on the title.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • SITER SKAIN

Publisher:

  • SITER SKAIN
  • Nyu Media

Designer:

  • Jirurun

Genre:

Themes:


ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second

ALLTYNEX Second


Related Articles


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Kamui

Page 2:
RefleX
ALLTYNEX Second

Discuss on the Forums!

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