Rising Star Games is developing a reputation for their efforts with the shoot-‘em-up genre. The distribution of titles such as Deathsmiles: Deluxe Edition, Akai Katana and Dodonpachi Ressurection: Deluxe Edition has shifted their weight on high-definition (HD) platforms from a purveyor of niche Japanese products to being a shoot-‘em-up specialist, with only Grasshopper Manufacture’s Sine Mora being able to compete with the genre defining gameplay that these titles have offered. And so the published is fulfilling this commitment with Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition, available now for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Developed by G.rev, a studio renowned for its efforts in progressing the ‘bullet hell’ subgenre, Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition tells the story of a ten year war raging across a continent and both armies reaching the point of exhaustion. However, when a temporary ceasefire is agreed neither side is willing to be the first to lay down its arms, instead unveiling new tools of destruction and experimental combat vehicles escalating the violence and bloodshed. A superfluous backstory to the core gameplay no doubt, but one that provides ample opportunity for G.rev to exercise its conceptual muscle.
Playable by up to two players in local co-operative gameplay, Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition may appear to be a relatively straight forward shoot-‘em-up experience in screenshots and even video, but in play it’s more certainly something else. The player(s) take control of their helicopter shooting down enemy foes while avoiding incoming attacks. The helicopters are very manoeuvrable, which provides one of Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition’s most interesting features: players can re-angle their helicopter to create new lines of fire.
Three such positions are available; forward and diagonal left and right. These positions are selected by changing the angle of flight and pressing the fire button to lock, at which point your helicopter will only be re-angled further when releasing the fire button. It’s a somewhat confusing mechanic at first, though players will quickly get up to speed with a little practice. And rightfully so, as G.rev hasn’t just lazily introduced the feature and been done with it; enemies are designed to work against the player selected line of fire, both in their positioning and their own firing patterns.
Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition features the typical hitbox and bomb mechanics, but the option feature is renovated significantly. Rather than being available until impact – acting as a shield of sorts – or collectable by way of power-up, the option has its own independent meter. Once the meter recharges the player simply holds the fire button to launch the option which will attack automatically for as long as the meter lasts. It’s an interesting revision to a rule that is now standard fare for the genre, and not one without merit.
Originally developed as an arcade cabinet and later converted to Dreamcast, Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition is a very good looking rendition of the original title. Fully 3D enemies and backdrops and some fantastic animation are highlights of the New Order Mode; the brand new addition to the formula which offers widescreen gameplay and a rearranged enemy structure. Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition then also offers an ‘extra’ mode for both the original arcade version and New Order Mode for further reiterations of the arrangement, and thus more challenges for the player to conquer.
Available as a retail release, Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition not only includes a selection of additional gameplay modes bust also comes packaged with a bonus CD containing the original soundtrack and a digital artbook. This is the justification for that subtitle of course, and the ‘HD’ tag comes as a remark of the upgraded visual quality, and so anyone who’s already sampled the delights of Under Defeat. However, fans of scrolling shoot-‘em-up gameplay yet to get their hands on the videogame there is simply no excuse not to pick-up a copy of Rising Star Games’ latest, as Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition provides a comprehensive and unique chapter in the genre.