Truxton (Genesis) review
"Back when I was younger, I remember seeing Truxton in an arcade. After wasting a few quarters on the lonely coin-op, I was in love. As a lad used to the stale, poorly-ported crap on the Atari 2600 and 7800, this vertically-scrolling game seemed a godsend. "
Back when I was younger, I remember seeing Truxton in an arcade. After wasting a few quarters on the lonely coin-op, I was in love. As a lad used to the stale, poorly-ported crap on the Atari 2600 and 7800, this vertically-scrolling game seemed a godsend.
Truxton was fast-paced, many enemies were much larger than my ship AND would actually show damage (via small fires popping up on them after enough bullets had riddled their steel hides). And, most importantly, the bombs were AWESOME!!! Upon pressing the appropriate button, a gigantic skull exploded onto the screen creating havoc among foes both weak and powerful. It truly seemed a game created by the gods -- ambrosia for my fingers.
Flash forward about 15 years later. Nostalgic for that sense of wonder I felt when I first experienced this game, I popped in the Genesis port of Truxton....and things just werenít the same. There still were large enemies that visibly suffered the wrath of your offensive onslaught and there still were the diabolically beautiful skull-shaped explosions -- but nearly everything else was nothing more than ordinary. The only times that rush of excitement I felt when initially playing Truxton ever came into play were when I first started the game up in anticipation of reliving those old glory days and throughout the fifth and final stage.
That fifth stage simply illustrates how to properly pull off a completely manic shooting experience. Starting in plain, boring old outer space (decorated with a few drab dots meant to be stars) you wonít have much time to notice the bland visuals as youíll immediately be assaulted on all directions by hordes of fast-moving ships that shoot even faster. With a tense, ominous tune (by far the most effective musical track) giving an atmosphere of impending doom, those ships give way to an onslaught of lightning-fast asteroids. The bleakness of space soon is replaced by a reddish planet and its collection of tanks, flying foes AND asteroids. A brutal mini-boss encounter lies farther along, as you take on no fewer than THREE durable and heavily-armed ships. Survive that and youíll endure yet another frenetic segment where everything but the kitchen sink speeds your way. After what seems to be an infinity of this, the final boss finally appears in a lava-filled cavernous base -- ready to do whatever it takes to prevent you from completing your quest.
Quite frankly, I loved this stage. The action started out fast and did nothing but get more and more intense until I wondered if it was humanly possible for one person to keep out of harmís way. To even make it to the final boss, I had to be in the right place at the right time without fail. I had to not let one single minor enemy survive for any length of time, as that one extra nuisance could very well be the straw that broke my back. I had to stockpile bombs for those moments in which it seemed like they were the only possible key to my salvation. It was wonderful -- even if I could physically feel my blood pressure rising.
Sadly for Toaplan and Sega, that one great stage didnít erase my memory of all the problems I had with Truxton. The final stageís music is the only track I really liked, while graphically, this game is simply a mess. Sure, the bomb explosions are great and two of your weapons also look wonderful -- but thatís about it as far as positive moments.
That generic space background is quite prevalent throughout the game, appearing in virtually every level. To offer a change of pace, you also have a number of sparsely-decorated areas which I assume to be caves, bases and other locales. To be honest, it really seems like the backgrounds of this game were tossed in as an afterthought. Hell, they may even have a derogatory effect on your weaponry. Both your thick green laser and homing electrical attack are very bright and take up a lot of space on the screen, especially when powered up (the default bullet attack is more in tune with the bland graphics). Usually, Iíd call that a positive, but here, it seemed to me that the bright, vivid colors used for these weapons simply outshone everything else -- including enemies and their bullets -- making it a bit on the difficult side to recognize immediate danger while firing.
While there is a decent variety of enemy vessels of all shapes and sizes, there isnít anything special about them, either. Visually, while competently drawn, there just isnít anything about ANY enemy in this game that impressed me. Everything has an aura of blandness to it, as Truxton apparently borrowed every generic foe from every shooter the designers could dig up and threw them all together. The visuals arenít the only aspect of enemies that lack creativity, though, as it likely wonít take long to get sick and tired of dueling major foes that utilize a spread shot as their weapon of choice. While these mini-bosses and bosses do occasionally dust off other kinds of artillery, it seems that each and every one of them prefers to simply spread shrapnel in as many directions (and as frequently) as possible. Essentially, the strategy for each of these battles falls along the lines of getting between the bullets while constantly making slight shifts to your position. Itís not the sort of thing that inspires positive feelings about a tough battle.
Another negative was Truxtonís lack of length. The game consists of a meager five stages and only the last of those is particularly long. In an attempt to make things seem more vast, immediately after observing the very unsatisfactory 15-second ending, you get to start over from the first stage at what seems to be a higher difficulty level. That wasnít the sort of reward I was looking for, though, so I simply turned the Genesis off and looked for something else to do.
Itís not that Truxton is a bad game, itís simply outdated. When Xevious came out, I loved it. After experiencing a few other shooters that greatly improved on its formula, I never touched that game again. And thatís how I also feel about Truxton. When I first encountered this game, it was the most impressive shooter Iíd ever seen. But as time went on, other games came along with diverse backgrounds, creatively designed enemies with impressive attacks and more to offer than five stages repeated over and over. Truxton isnít a poor effort by Toaplan, nor is it a sterling one --†it simply is an old game that is best used as the ďbeforeĒ in a ďbefore-and-afterĒ example illustrating how far this genre of games advanced over the lifespan of the shooter-heavy Genesis.
Community review by overdrive (November 05, 2004)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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