Rigid Force Alpha (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 21.09.2018

Review for Rigid Force Alpha on PC

As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, mankind is doomed. CORE, the hyper-advanced weapon system with unparalleled destructive powers, has fallen into the enemy's hands. In response, the Rigid Force Alpha was deployed. Utilising the same technology as CORE, this ship is all that stands in the way of humanity's annihilation. If this story sounds even remotely familiar, then buckle up, because it's time for yet another trip down memory lane.

Over the years, this critic has played a lot of shmups. It's impossible to determine an exact number, but let's just say its north of 400, at least. Certainly the burning question on everyone's mind is "Don't you ever get tired of them?" Surprisingly enough, no, not at all. There's just something so primal and satisfying about a genre where the players face impossible odds. The fact that the difference between life and death can be measured in pixels is part of what makes STGs so consistently appealing. They are demanding and sometimes infuriating, but reaching beyond one's perceived limits is what being human is all about.

What's also great is that while almost all of these games follow the same basic guidelines, they maintain a sense of identity. One doesn't approach R-Type in the same way they would Dodonpachi, Darius, or even Pulstar. Although two shmups might look and play out in a similar fashion, there tend to be scenarios, nuances, or other qualities that are unique to both titles. Of course, it's hard to deny that there are also quite a few clones and outright stinkers floating around, but that tends to be the case with any remotely popular genre.

Screenshot for Rigid Force Alpha on PC

Now then, does Rigid Force Alpha capture that same magic that has sustained STGs for so long? Not quite. Before going any further, it's important to point out that this isn't a particularly bad title. It showcases an understanding of the fundamentals. The three difficulty settings appropriately account for varying levels of skill and experience. Each of the six stages offers its own set of obstacles to contend with. The most essential aspects, the controls and mechanics, are dependable. There's never a worry about losing control or dying from bullets that don't even touch the ship. Oh, and its compelling entertainment. Players will be glued to their screen as they weave their way around crushing walls and in-between scores of bullets, all the while blasting enemies to smithereens.

Undoubtedly, anyone who has played a single genre for a long time will notice the reuse of certain concepts. At times, this familiarity is reassuring. It's comforting to know exactly what a game is trying to accomplish. However, consider the proverb 'familiarity breeds contempt' for a moment. The more well-versed the player is in a particular genre, the more likely they will notice flaws. When a title is far too similar to every other one that came before it, that comforting feeling is lost. Instead, the person holding the controller starts thinking "Why am I playing this new game, when it's the same or slightly worse than something I already played before?"

Screenshot for Rigid Force Alpha on PC

R-Type and Gradius are shmups that feature a checkpoint system. When the R-9 or Vic Viper is destroyed, all of their power-ups are immediately stripped away and the player is kicked back to a previous checkpoint. Under certain circumstances, this can be incredibly hard to recover from. As opposed to the two genre-defining classics, Darius 2 doesn't have a checkpoint system, but once all of the power-ups are lost, that game becomes practically unwinnable. Speaking solely from a personal perspective, all three STGs have been the subject of a lot of rage. It's an era that's probably better off staying in the past.

Rigid Force Alpha doesn't have checkpoints, but on any difficulty above easy, all power-ups are instantly lost upon death. This feeds into the mindset where any lives beyond the first one may as well be window dressing. As with Irem's 1987 classic, the player-ship can be equipped with pods that block bullets from the front, rear, or sides. Once those shields are gone, recovering from a death becomes a lot harder than it needs to be. Granted, losing all of the additional firepower also hurts, but at least the default cannon is fairly strong, so boss-fights don't take an absurd amount of time. A bullet-absorbing blade is also available, although its range is pitiful and requires a lot of energy to use.

The situations that players must contend with are far too familiar. There is both an ice stage and a fire stage. The desert wastelands hide vicious creatures that rush anything that comes close, sort of like the gougers from R-Type. During the final stage, spheroids appear from out of nowhere to collide with the player. The boss battles are where it starts to get ridiculous. The first boss seems to be the cousin of R-Type III's first boss. The second boss is eerily reminiscent of Gomander, only it's been turned 90 degrees. Then there's the boss of that aforementioned fire stage, which looks remarkably reminiscent, perhaps out of one of the Gradius releases.

Screenshot for Rigid Force Alpha on PC

Admittedly, coming up with wholly original ideas is pretty darned tough. However, this shmup is far too referential. It doesn't introduce new spins on old concepts, nor does it try to go in fresh and creative directions. Maybe instead of CORE, the antagonist could be an army of giant robot birds. One of the bosses would be called "Stringy Struthio." It's an ostrich that shoots rockets out of its neck. Yeah, original ideas are tough, and original good ideas are harder still. The point is that while this title has all of the basic elements in place, there's not enough to set itself apart from its inspiration.

On the bright side, the additional features are quite well done. The arcade mode allows players to tackle any stage. Alongside the threats posed by both enemy forces and the environment, pilots must also account for the scoring system. There's a multiplier bonus that rises with the acquisition of green bits, which are left behind when enemies are destroyed. Furthermore, each stage is filled with bombs to destroy and survivors that need rescuing. Accomplishing both of the secondary objectives will result in a lot of bonus points. There's also a Boss Rush mode, with the goal being to defeat every major fiend in as short a time as possible. Online leaderboards are also available, which is always welcome.

There are a couple other minor issues worth noting. Main weapons are designated by both their colour and shot-type. The blue shot is narrow and does exceptional damage, while the green shot bounces off of walls to cover a wide area. The red shot, which fires in a spread, is by far the weakest of the three. There's no benefit in holding onto it over either of the other shot-types. During the fourth stage, there's an instance where two massive lasers hide the arrival of an enemy swarm attacking from behind, and that's just plain cheap.

Screenshot for Rigid Force Alpha on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Despite being functionally solid and enjoyable, Rigid Force Alpha's lack of identity is very apparent. Occasional cameos and background references are fine, but cloned enemies and bosses is going too far. The overly familiar environs and scenarios aren't going to excite genre veterans, either. While it may be difficult to create something that has never been seen before, it has to be easier to create something that isn't seen very often. At least when it comes to features, there isn't much to complain about. Alongside a slew of achievements for thrill-seekers is an arcade mode with a lot of replay value. Even if this shmup isn't as imaginative as it could be, at least its heart is in the right place.

Developer

com8com1 Software

Publisher

com8com1 Software

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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   

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