XDR: X-Dazedly-Ray (Genesis) review
"Let’s just cut to the chase — the only interesting thing in Unipacc’s Genesis shooter XDR: X-Dazedly-Ray is its name. I mean, what the hell is an “X-Dazedly-Ray”? It’s the sort of thing one can spend infinite amounts of time trying to figure out. Is it an X-ray gone horribly wrong? Probably not. Is it the game’s final boss? I can see this being the case — I certainly became dazed trying to make out that ship’s many attacks against the rapidly scrolling background. Or is this “X-Dazedly-Ray” some..."
Let’s just cut to the chase -- the only interesting thing in Unipacc’s Genesis shooter XDR: X-Dazedly-Ray is its name. I mean, what the hell is an “X-Dazedly-Ray”? It’s the sort of thing one can spend infinite amounts of time trying to figure out. Is it an X-ray gone horribly wrong? Probably not. Is it the game’s final boss? I can see this being the case -- I certainly became dazed trying to make out that ship’s many attacks against the rapidly scrolling background. Or is this “X-Dazedly-Ray” something else?
What, you want me to actually talk about the game instead of embarking on another couple of paragraphs attempting to dissect and figure out what the title means? Well, don’t blame me for sucking all the fun out of this review. Because, as you’ll soon find out, all the enjoyment you’ll get out of XDR is derived from its bizarre name. What Unipacc created here was a simplistic and lame game that is outshined by most shooters on most systems throughout the history of the genre. Maybe it’s not as over-the-top crappy as the PC Engine’s Toilet Kids (pun intended) and maybe it’s not as all-around horrible as the NES port of Alpha Mission -- but this game still deserves its own little shrine in an isolated corner of Purgatory.
So, are you a fan of the classic shooters?
I hope so, because the designers of this game sure were. Maybe X-Dazedly Ray wasn’t such a bad name for a game -- after all, it sure beats, “We Took Gradius and Darius, Put Them in a Blender and This Came Out” (a bit too long for the box). For the most part, the bosses all look like they came out of those classic Gradius games. Now don’t get any funny ideas -- none of these are the more creative bosses from those games. We’re talking about the non-descript, blocky spaceships those older games had in spades.
It really makes me wish they’d lifted the super-cool, creative bosses from the Darius series. After all, they sure didn’t have any qualms with taking other Darius elements, such as the shield system and the missile attacks (including the ability to upgrade until you’re able to fire four missiles diagonally from each corner of your ship).
Maybe imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but if I was involved with the creative process with either Darius or Gradius and saw this game, I’d be mortally insulted at exactly what sort of game was leeching off my work.
But there’s nothing like building up a weak ship until it’s a powerhouse, is there?
Well, when you don’t really do that much building up and it all can be taken away in an instant, it’s hard to take too much pride in your work. You can switch between three weapons, the wide-spread (but weak) bullet and wave attacks OR the powerful, but very slender, laser attack. You also can obtain giant missiles that serve as Gradius’ options (well, I nearly got through a paragraph without mentioning a superior game....). Not only do these things add to your offense, but also can protect you from damage. Then, you can hunt down icons to power-up your primary weapon and missile attack. To be honest, you only do a little work on your ship and then spend the rest of your time praying you don’t get hit and lose the fruits of your labor. And some of that work can actually be detrimental to your progress. Sadly, those “missile” options are pretty large, making it quite easy for a player in the heat of battle to get confused as to exactly which one of those shapes is their ship -- which can cause more than a few cheap deaths.
Uhhhh....I thought this game was for a 16-bit system....
I’ve played some really beautiful Genesis shooters. I still wax nostalgic over the vast and gorgeous levels of Bio Hazard Battle. The mere mention of Eliminate Down causes me to salivate uncontrollably. Even more primitive games, such as Wings of Wor, have some gorgeous elements. Shucks! There I go again -- naming a few more superior shooters....this game just brings out the worst in me!
Anyway, on an aesthetic level, this game doesn’t deliver the goods. The background graphics are pretty ugly for the most part and in some cases it can be tough to tell exactly what you’re flying by (Level Five: Jungle or Swamp?).
Don’t expect the enemies to look much (if any) better. Throughout most of the game’s six levels, you’ll be stuck going against a huge number of small, non-descript, generic shooter foes. Reach the end of each level and you have a bland, unimaginative boss.
Only one of those fights is even worth noting -- and not in a good way. The final boss awaits at the end of the mandatory shooter “base” level. The background is pretty cluttered and is scrolling quite quickly at this time. The big ol’ triangle posing as the enemy leader tends to shoot a ton of bullets at you. The end result of all this is that these bullets seem to blend into the background because of how busy the screen is at this time. Making matters worse, occasionally your ship flickers in-and-out, leaving you quite vulnerable to getting hit because you are literally flying blind. Nothing like a truly horrid way to end a bad game to really brighten my day.
Oh, and the music is pretty much at the same level as the graphics. The beats are quite simplistic and add absolutely zero atmosphere to the game. Combine that with some pretty lame sound effects and XDR is pretty much a loser at both the audio and visual levels.
But that has to be some degree of enjoyment to be derived from the gameplay....right?
Nope. First off, you have some generic level designs (city, cave, ruins, moon, jungle/swamp, base) combined with some equally unimaginative enemies, weapons and bosses. Making matters worse, all these details are portrayed in an inferior fashion by XDR than they were by whatever game they were lifted from. It’s not that the gameplay is horrible on its own merits -- it’s just that I spent the entire time I was playing this game thinking about all the good shooters that were ineptly borrowed from. By the time I was finished, I was ready to concede that Toilet Kids was a better game. At least the makers of that game apparently KNEW their offering was a joke and went for a whimsical tone. Unipacc, though, expects you to take XDR seriously -- a task I simply am not capable of doing.
And let’s face it -- there is a reason 2-D shooters eventually went out of style. A few great games of that sort were made, so everyone jumped on the wagon. Sure, a number of those newer titles might have been excellent, but far more just seemed to be bland offerings created only to capitalize on the popularity of those superb games. X-Dazedly Ray definitely falls into that latter category. The only possible reason I could even recommend this title in good faith would be as an educational tool to show that just because a game lifts elements from good games doesn’t mean that it will be a good, or even semi-competent, title.
Community review by overdrive (December 08, 2004)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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