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Last Resort (NeoGeo) artwork

Last Resort (NeoGeo) review

"If you’ve played R-Type - the perennial arcade side-scrolling space shooter - and you didn’t like it, you will hate Last Resort It’s that simple. You will hate it for its extreme difficulty, you will hate it for its unforgivable 'back you go to the last checkpoint 10 minutes ago' attitude. "

With this game being as hard to enjoy as it is, I will spare you the horrible play on words that it brings to mind. There are only two possible scenarios for potential Last Resort players.

If you’ve played R-Type - the perennial arcade side-scrolling space shooter - and you didn’t like it, you will hate Last Resort It’s that simple. You will hate it for its extreme difficulty, you will hate it for its unforgivable 'back you go to the last checkpoint 10 minutes ago' attitude.

The other eventuality exists only for those who loved R-Type (there seems to be no middle ground possible with that game). Those people will relish the idea of Last Resort. They will cheer because, yes, they have another diamond-hard shooter to clear, complete with an indestructible orb that pays more than homage (royalties, I say!) to their king of shooters’ own Force Device. This will be reason enough to celebrate for the diehards, the aficionados.

But even they will have their celebration die a slow and painful death. Their fate is worse than the non-fans who will simply dismiss the expensive and obscure shoot-em-up without a second thought. These R-Type fans will have their spirits deflated like a kid wanting and waiting to go outside to play when the rain won’t let up and the day rolls on relentlessly.

What’s most troubling about Last Resort is how all the ingredients for a good shooter seem present. The graphics are not sensational by NeoGeo standards, but they are vibrant and imaginative as shooters go. Enemies are large, and when they are clones of R-Type foes, (which is often) they are larger, if not as crisply detailed.

The general aspect of the game assumes the detailed alien/mechanical design that IREM’s game is famous for, with a bit more size to things, sacrificing a degree of clarity in the process. The difference between the games cosmetically is not unlike the difference between an original photograph, and the same picture scanned in and enlarged on your PC. In the end, the game looks like it’s presented more than competently.

The music evokes a strange sense of ambivalence that leans toward the distasteful. It’s mostly boring thumping and wailing, like a child in a burlap sack might make as you throw tennis balls at him from ten paces. So the sounds manage to be both forgettable and horrible at the same time. Still, music was not the original R-Type's strong suit.

It is the gameplay, predictably, where Last Resort finds that it can no longer keep up with its superior predecessor. The orb that you can (and must) equip yourself with, fires in eight directions and can orbit your ship, or be held at any of these eight points around your ship with the click of the button (the button that’s not doing all the firing). Aside from a few uninspired weapons that simply do the job, the main attraction is being able to fire your orb in the direction that it’s angled at, doing massive damage on the way out, and residual damage on the way back.

That is, if your ship were at the centre of a clock face, and the orb was situated at 2 o’clock, charging it and releasing it would fire it forward and up. The ultimate truth about Last Resort is that mastering the orb is very difficult and unsatisfying within the confines of the game, and doing so may prove to be an unwelcome challenge for even shooter masochists.

Indeed, this decent-looking, weak-sounding R-Type clone is much too wishy-washy to deserve the attention and patience that the cruel difficulty level demands. Casual fans of the genre, stay away. R-Type boosters, approach only with caution and the lowest of expectations.

Something more: If you employ the use of an emulator to play your NeoGeo games, you'll have the luxury of using Save States. Using them in most games only serves to cheat yourself out of many hours of fun; in Last Resort, it may just make the game playable.

Something else: For an even harder R-Type clone check out Pulstar for the same system. At least that game provides a superb assault on the senses, which makes the hair-yanking experience worth it... almost.

Rating: 4/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 13, 2003)

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