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Override (TurboGrafx-16) artwork

Override (TurboGrafx-16) review

"Instead, we have six levels that are just there. A couple have you flying over Earth-like surfaces, while others position you above bland mechanical structures that could be a Death Star-like tunnel, a futuristic military base, a satellite up there in space or whatever."

If you've played a lot of shooters throughout your life, you’ve most assuredly come across a game like Override. A PC Engine title that didn't reach American soil, this basic affair offers a few neat features, but is generally uninspiring in the grand scheme of things. It somewhat reminded me of superior fare such as Super Star Soldier, but in the way that made me wonder why I'm always trying new things instead of sticking with tried-and-true favorites.

Override is by no means a bad title -- it's just there. You'll go through six vertically-scrolling stages, collect various power-ups of differing colors and engage in confrontations with big robotic ships. And… man, I'm not even two paragraphs in and I'm already stretching for adjectives you haven’t read dozens of times before in reviews for similar games. This is just one of those games where you've seen it all before, whether in superior or inferior form. Now, with Override, you get to see it done in the most average, mundane way possible, where there's nothing to deserve effusive praise and nothing to warrant a series of creative, damning condemnations.

So, let's start with the Three Things Somewhat Original about this one, from best to worst. At the top of the mountain is the super shot. If you go a few seconds without firing, you'll see a green flame appear on the top of your ship. Wait long enough before shooting and when you do, you'll cover the screen with intense, damaging flame. This is a godsend against boss fights and can effectively break them all. When you think about it, what makes a boss fight tough in a shooter? It's a combination of three things. First, they take a lot more damage than the standard enemy. Second, they tend to have aggressive attacks that clutter the screen with all sorts of projectiles. And third, it can be easy for one of their bullets to sneak in on you because you'll be shooting like crazy, too, and it's easy to lose sight of certain enemy attacks amongst all of your own bullets.

With this super shot, you can effectively negate that third issue because you'll just be dodging their attacks without trying to fire back. And then, when the time is right, you'll unleash pure hell upon that boss, causing a ton of damage that also destroys many of their attacks. When I learned how to properly use this attack, bosses became child's play.

Next best of those three Somewhat Original things I mentioned is the power-up system. Like a few other games I've played, the power-up orbs change colors as they descend along the screen. However, there's a method to this, as the last color they'll land on before scrolling off is whatever color you're currently using, so you can essentially hang out at the bottom of the screen and not have to worry about inadvertently switching from the spread shot (my preferred weapon) to a laser. I rather liked this approach, as in games like this where power-ups drop like rain, it's often far too easy to accidentally switch weapons regularly. In Override, there's at least a bit of a safeguard against such an occurrence.

The final Somewhat Original thing about this game is tougher to comprehend, though. You have a life meter, despite this game seemingly being neither easier nor more difficult than the average console shooter of the early 90s. And this isn't a case of you being able to take multiple hits while only having one life per game; instead, you have an allotment of lives, with each one being able to take three hits before the fourth finishes it off. Due to this, I'd call Override more of a diversion than an actual challenge.

And simply put, a game needs to do more than this one does if it means to hold my attention. It should maybe feature beautiful levels, an exciting musical score, gigantic well-animated bosses…that sort of things. And none of those attributes are present here. I don't remember a single element of this game's music mere days after finishing it, and the bosses are all generic mechanical creations that often fit into that vague "is it a robot or spaceship?" category.

Override's levels are also generic and forgettable. I've noticed that the better shooters I've played tend to have stages based around some sort of concept where a person can pick up their controller and think things like, "I'm in the intestines of a gigantic beast!" or "Look, I'm blowing up a gigantic squadron of battleships!" There just isn't the graphical detail or imagination in the stages you find here that would prompt that sort of thinking. Instead, we have six levels that are just there. A couple have you flying over Earth-like surfaces, while others position you above bland mechanical structures that could be a Death Star-like tunnel, a futuristic military base, a satellite up there in space or whatever. This is definitely not one of those games where a player risks being distracted from shooting and dodging because they're gaping at beautiful scenery.

And, so, in a nutshell, Override is little more than a collection of generic levels filled with generic foes led by generic bosses that you'll play through while generic music plays in the background. The action is respectable and reasonably fun, but there are plenty of games that can say that while also boasting of superior aesthetics. If you’re looking to do more than simply expand your HuCard collection, maybe try one of those instead.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (November 01, 2013)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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pickhut posted November 01, 2013:

And… man, I'm not even two paragraphs in and I'm already stretching for adjectives you haven’t read dozens of times before in reviews for similar games.

Yup, that's probably why I haven't done a shoot-em-up review in a year: a ton of them are sooo samey to where it's difficult to write for one. A game would have to have something so weird, broken, or gimmicky for me to even write a review around it. Still, you did a good job writing about why this one feels generic, especially with your top three angle.
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overdrive posted November 03, 2013:

I think for me, this was the first (at least in a long time; but I did have a long hiatus between the 2003-04 period and more recently where it was rare that I did any shmup reviews) game that really hit me with that other than (I think) one of the SMS or GG Power Strike/Aleste games where I did a gimmicky review that was about as much me ranting about personal issues and boredom than talking about the game.

For me, there's always something interesting to talk about with these games, whether because they did something really good or really bad that I can focus on. Here, though, it was more of a "well, there were a couple neat functions...but man, there's nothing interesting here". Just a paint-by-numbers episode of competence, nothing more and nothing less.

About the only two things worth mentioning that I didn't put into the review are: 1. In what wasn't a surprise whatsoever, the last level was a boss rush. Because boss rushes are a mandatory thing in any shooter not going for "completely original concept". 2. The final boss is a robotic beetle-like thing (another generic, robotic creation) that has two things going up and down on the sides of it firing lasers and stuff. Which would be effective except they're about a third of the way inside the screen and there are no walls, so you can sort of perch in a corner and not only be immune to the attacks of one of them...but also use it as a shield from some of the main guy's bullets. BRILLIANT!!! (I say with sarcasm).

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