Assault Suit Leynos (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 30.12.2015 1

Review for Assault Suit Leynos on PlayStation 4

The original series of Assault Suit titles consisted of five games: Leynos, Leynos 2, Valken, Valken 2 and a remade Valken. While Valken and its remake both made it to Europe, and Leynos and Valken made it to North America, none of the others released outside of Japan. This is a remake of the first title in the series: Assault Suit Leynos (or Target Earth, as it was known in the US, originally released way back in 1990 on the Mega Drive). The other four titles in the series have spanned generations, progressing from the Mega Drive, to the SNES, to the Saturn, and then the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. This remake has long been on the cards. Announced in 2014 and initially planned for release in May of 2015, after suffering numerous delays, it's finally here. Was it worth the wait?

The love for giant mechs in the popular culture in Japan is comparable to the love of superheroes in pop culture in the West. Not with this current resurgence filling seats in cinemas, but the long storied history that has dated back decades, while the comics of DC and Marvel influenced and guided the childhoods of some of the best and most talented creators today, as did the manga works in Japan. Some of the most iconic and ground-breaking manga of the time were not the superhero equivalent series like the shonen style battle manga that is most prevalent now, but series based around giant robotic suits and their pilots.

Mech games have been around almost as long as games themselves, from Battlezone on the Atari to today's life-size Gundam cockpits, which take up huge sections of arcades all across Tokyo. There have been first person and third person, turn-based strategy and isometric. There has been an abundance of the games, although not all worth remembering.

Screenshot for Assault Suit Leynos on PlayStation 4

Assault Suit Leynos is a side-scrolling shooter - or Japanese shmup, as it is affectionately known to its fans. At first equipped with just a shield, a basic LG machine gun and a jet pack, the piloted mech suit both tears its way across Earth and battles in space above it. It has six equipment slots for other weapons to be unlocked and equipped, and standard fare of rockets and shotgun style blasts, but each adds more flavour and fun to the levels. Setting up the best equipment depending on the stage once everything has been unlocked is fun in itself.

One of the best aspects of this title is that it changes up the levels. Instead of trotting from left to right over a set amount of stages to meet a bigger enemy each time, each stage has a special encounter or mechanic that helps set it apart. There are time limits to stop a bombarding enemy ship from reaching a base, space levels for 360-degree flight and combat, and even the dreaded escort mission. The underlying core mechanics are smooth and fast, and although the controls can be a little clunky at points, it doesn't detract overly from the enjoyment. The control issues are mostly noticeable in later stages when the ability to switch between flight and walking is introduced, occasionally getting stuck to the floor when jumping or hovering near rough terrain.

Screenshot for Assault Suit Leynos on PlayStation 4

The standard mode to play through is Arcade, which is a reworked version of the original that fans may find quite different in one vital aspect: difficulty. Gone is the unforgiving and punishing difficulty level, and, instead, the game plays as quite a brief, but enjoyable, scrolling shooter. The playtime for a completion clocks in at around an hour or two, but it's worth revisiting each stage with the weapons that can be unlocked over the course of the game, aiming for the ever elusive 'S' rank on each.

For the hardcore out there, the "Classic" mode is available in the options menu and is as difficult as the original. It brings with it the unique chaos and insanity that only Japanese shoot 'em ups ever contained during the era, with moments where streams of bullets and lasers tear through the screen and only a handful of hits will swiftly result in a Game Over.

When compared to the original, there has obviously been a massive overhaul; this is a Mega Drive to HD conversion, after all. The most noticeable change is, of course, the graphics, with some superb looking ground-up designs on the sprites across the board. Sprites for the mechs and the enemies, in particular, look crisp and sharp, yet still manage to capture the feel and design of the original. There are also big changes to the audio, which now includes a full voice cast and some new arrangements and remixes of the original themes that are familiar and still evoke the tones of 8-bit classics.

Screenshot for Assault Suit Leynos on PlayStation 4

As with any remake, there are also some new features, although not many, sadly. There are some documents with concept art and promotional images from the original title and the remake, and a practice mode to introduce new players to the fundamentals of the game. Possibly the biggest draw are the trophies; with a punishing difficulty level, it's great to have trophies to mark the achievements that come with the toughest challenges.

Assault Suit Leynos is currently only available in Japan, and considering the series' history, it will be interesting to see if it ever makes it to Europe or North America. With there currently being no named Western publisher, it seems quite unlikely. The good news is that while the majority of the game is in Japanese, the menus are in English and it is simple enough to traverse for those without any knowledge of the language, so this is definitely one to consider importing or setting up a Japanese PSN account for.

Screenshot for Assault Suit Leynos on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Japanese shoot 'em ups have a very specific audience, and while that audience will be ecstatic to get its hands on this, casual players will baulk at the price point and likely be put off with the rage-inducing difficulty moments. The price is a little high for this type of remake, but worth it for fans of the original. All around, Assault Suit Leynos is an enjoyable resurgence and hopefully the first of many remakes incoming from a great franchise.

Assault Suit Leynos can be bought from in disc format today, or credit can be bought for the PlayStation Network, along with many other great digitally released titles on the likes of Nintendo's eShop, on PC via Steam, and so on, across all regions.

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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Our member of the week

I own Assault Suits Valken as an original Super Famicom cart, as well as Cybernator on both the Wii and Wii U VC. One of my all time favourite games, no doubt Smilie ! I never liked Target Earth quite as much, for me it didn't play quite as well (on SNES you could move around while locking your aim into one position using the R button, which was cool) and also the visuals and sound were much better on SNES to my taste. But this remake hopefully fixes the things which were not right originally. Too bad the remake isn't coming to a system I own Smilie, since it's likely it would reconcile me with the game that started it all Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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