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Android Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) artwork

Android Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) review

"My favorite shmup of the early CD-era"

Android Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) image

Many consider the early 90s to be the heyday of the shmup, with titles like Thunder Force IV on the Genesis, Gates of Thunder on the Turbo CD, and lots of other games without the word thunder in the title across the many contemporary platforms. Many of these shmups featured truly inspired aesthetics and music, yet almost all of them retained the one-shot kills and other poor design choices of extortion-by-quarters arcade machines. However, Android Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm manages to capture the adrenaline of the era while fine-tuning its gameplay to create one of the best shmups of the era.

At first inspection, Bari-Arm isn't very distinguishable from its competition. The plot is that space bad guys bad you mecha kill them happy ending with anime spouse. Just enjoy the cool art style and music and whatnot shoot the robots along the way during the seven stages; yes, the pathetic industry standard of ten wasn't even met here. Rather, it is the little changes that make Bari-Arm worth giving a look.

Android Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) imageAndroid Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) image

One doesn't feel as hapless in Bari-Arm as one does in a game like Gradius that cripples the player's arsenal upon getting touched once. A sort of shield system is employed here, allowing your ship to turn into a more powerful Gundam form. Shields, lives, and other powerups are plentiful, but, should you die. your weapon is downgraded only slightly, instead of being reduced to a peashooter or stripped entirely. More importantly, all the weapons are powerful and useful in any state, so you don't essentially soft-lock the game upon making a tiny mistake. Furthermore, that cool weapon charging mechanic from Thunder Force IV is here, only better since each weapon type has its own super attack, with several degrees of charge being increasingly powerful supers represented by a bar. You're not powerless compared to your foes, but Bari-Arm's still got some challenge in store.

Android Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) imageAndroid Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) image

Enemy attack patterns are diverse and challenging, yet most have fair tells for their attacks. This diminishes somewhat toward the last two levels of the game, with foes popping up from the left side of the screen without warning, but nothing particularly trollish comes into play. Higher difficulties actually add new enemies and attack patterns instead of just slapping on a few more layers of titanium, giving veteran players a fresh experience to look forward to. Regardless of which difficulty you pick, the enemas will stand out due to their fluid animations and excellent designs by none other than animator Masami Ōbari.

Speaking of presentation, one cannot overlook the excellent music here. Old redbook-era shmups are known for having great music, but I dare say Bari-Arm outdoes them all. Each track is memorable, hard-hitting, and in great synchronization with the music. The sound mixing and quality is also surprisingly great, much better than the almost inaudible tunes of Gates of Thunder. There's nothing quite like dodging swarms of bullets as a song as unrelentingly panicked as my life makes it quite clear that you are in danger of death. These are some all-time great video game tracks that make a perfect complement to the excellent gameplay.

Android Assault: The Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD) image

It's much too bad that the game is so short that a successful run lasts about only 40 minutes, but what a 40 minutes they were! I hazard that Android Assault of Bari-Arm is far and away the best shmup on the Sega CD, even better than ones on the Turbo CD or Genesis! If you are a fan of old-school shmups, this is going to be a new favorite of yours, no question.


Follow_Freeman's avatar
Community review by Follow_Freeman (April 15, 2018)

When he isn't in a life-or-death situation, Dr. Freeman enjoys playing a variety of video games. From olden shooters to platformers & action titles: Freeman may be a bit stuck with the games of the past, but he doesn't mind. Some things don't age much.

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