Ghost Blade (Dreamcast) Review

By Az Elias 18.10.2015 1

Review for Ghost Blade on Dreamcast

The eyes don't deceive! Yes, this really is a review of a brand-new Dreamcast title. SEGA's last home console is still delivering the goods, with unlicensed, independently-created games carving out a market of their own on the fan-favourite machine from 1998. Many of these post-official lifespan titles have been shooters, and Hucast Games has long been a part of that wave, with DUX and its remake, Redux: Dark Matters, satisfying that shmup craving. Before the anticipated sequel of Redux 2 arrives next year, Ghost Blade is the latest in this ever-growing list of new Dreamcast titles to hit stores. Cubed3 has the pleasure of dusting down SEGA's little white box of tricks, hooking in a VGA cable and slamming a VMU into the controller to put this shooter to the test.

Ghost Blade brings relatively little original to the table that hasn't been seen before in the now-niche world of arcade shooters, and although it would be expected that a game of its ilk released for the age-old Dreamcast would be targeting the most hardcore of hardcore shmup fans, Hucast has put a strong focus on making this as newbie-friendly as possible.

With only Novice and Normal options, and on top of being an easy ride through the five stages and bosses on offer - certainly by the standards of the majority of other shoot 'em ups - it will only take a handful of re-runs to master the full game for the extremists out there, and that does limit the potential for replayability. On the flipside, Ghost Blade has been designed with a simple endless combo meter in mind, where keeping the ship alive will extend the chain until that one infuriating enemy laser connects during those bullet hell moments. The real thrill of this shooter is geared around keeping those combos going for the ultimate high score.

Although a small manual does come in the box, and gives a brief story overview and details on the differences between each of the three ships on offer, there is nothing in-game at all that explains this. No indicators show what ship has a wide or narrow line of fire, or which is the fastest of the bunch. Sure, the booklet can be grabbed to look it up, but it seems like a no-brainer to put a simple star rating and one-word descriptions under each pilot on the ship select screen. Finer points, such as the fact that Focus Shot firing recharges the power meter for extra bombs, aren't mentioned even in the booklet. These are relatively minor gripes in the grand scheme of things, but seem obvious to point out in the game itself.

Screenshot for Ghost Blade on Dreamcast

When it comes down to business, Ghost Blade does a commendable job of breathing life into the still-beating heart of the Dreamcast, with lush backdrops supplementing the bulky and colourful enemy sprites that flood the screen, although, naturally, it isn't a patch on what modern HD titles can display today. It does look like Hucast tried to push the system to its limits as slowdown occurs in some sprite-heavy moments of foes and weapon-fire, which is a disappointment, but not as big of a deal as it might be in the more severe bullet hell shoot 'em ups. There can also be the tendency for enemy bullets to blend in too well with the action and visuals, causing some cheap, unwanted deaths, but it is a small blemish that only requires a sterner eye to avoid.

No shoot 'em up is complete without a soundtrack to match the on-screen mayhem, and composer Rafael Dyll has nailed it with an electro theme that sublimely ties in the destruction of gunships and dodging of laser beam waves with tunes that are hard not to bounce to. It's sad, then, that Stage 3 is so short that the background music played during it cuts off before it can even loop. A cracking set of tunes make up this soundtrack, though, and anyone that picks up the Collector's Edition will be able to count themselves incredibly lucky at getting the full OST in the package; it's definitely one to listen to outside of playing.

As Ghost Blade does seem to target the less experienced shooter fan, this is far from an intense bullet hell blaster, and the bosses are rather underwhelming and unmemorable. For the time it lasts, though, it's sufficiently entertaining, encompassing the sort of attacks expected of a well-crafted shoot 'em up, with plenty of different types of enemy fire that require quick reflexes and concentration. The Focus Shot also adds a positive risk-reward aspect to gameplay, where using it directs a powerful narrow line of fire dead ahead, at the cost of slower movement. To top it all off, a horizontal TATE mode and two-player co-operative is embedded for good measure, completing a package that isn't without its faults, but adds another dose of quality to the Dreamcast's ever-expanding catalogue.

Screenshot for Ghost Blade on Dreamcast

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Never mind that the Dreamcast is still seeing new games released for it after all these years; an entry in the arcade shooter genre itself is wonderful enough to see. The added bonus is that Ghost Blade is gratifying - well designed in its balance and flow through the stages on offer, with variety in terms of deadly bullets thrown across screen - but it will unlikely phase shooter veterans and does feel too much on the short side. It still delivers a challenge, but it seems the casual fan has been put at the forefront of the mind when creating this one - not necessarily a bad thing at all, but might turn away a portion of the crowd looking for the next hardcore shoot 'em up to sink their teeth into. As far as picking up a solid new title to bolster that Dreamcast collection, though, Ghost Blade deserves a shot.

Image for

Developer

Hucast Games

Publisher

Hucast Games

Genre

Shooter

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Pixelino (guest) 20.11.2015#1

U kidding me? 2.5 from 10! This isnt a good game. Grafix are not up to date. Gameplay is too easy. Too short and no good Musik. Better get a copy its not worth to buy this crap game from a No Support Company named HUCAST.

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