Verytex (Genesis) review
"For the most part, Verytex is an unremarkable game. The 1991 vertically-scrolling Asmik shooter for the Megadrive is unable to boast great graphics or innovative play. Its six levels are, for the most part, relatively easy, with only a couple of fun boss fights standing out in my head as noteworthy battles. In some areas, youíll struggle to make out enemies or bullets against rapidly-scrolling backgrounds ó a cardinal sin of the genre. All-in-all, this should have been an easy game for me..."
For the most part, Verytex is an unremarkable game. The 1991 vertically-scrolling Asmik shooter for the Megadrive is unable to boast great graphics or innovative play. Its six levels are, for the most part, relatively easy, with only a couple of fun boss fights standing out in my head as noteworthy battles. In some areas, youíll struggle to make out enemies or bullets against rapidly-scrolling backgrounds -- a cardinal sin of the genre. All-in-all, this should have been an easy game for me to summarize and dismiss with a handful of snide comments and a rating of three or so.
But I canít do that. While Iíd never be so foolish as to try convincing you that Verytex is a hidden gem that deserves to be placed on the same pedestal as Thunder Force IV or Eliminate Down, it does have its fair amount of charm and deserves far better than to automatically be tossed on my Genny shooter trash heap next to XDR and Insector-X. The gameplay is simple, yet effective, while the musical score is one of the better ones Iíve heard in quite some time for this sort of game.
And donít discount the importance of a kickiní soundtrack in a shooter. I normally try to gloss over (or ignore) music in most of my reviews, as I donít feel overly capable of succinctly describing its impact in a way that makes sense to anyone besides myself, but I have to make an exception to that self-imposed rule for this game. In the case of Verytex, that music automatically turns the game from blah to decent. With a lot of lesser shooters from this era, I find myself getting annoyed with the sound, muting the game and joylessly finish playing.
The opposite happened with Verytex. While it didnít take long to realize I wasnít playing a classic, I didnít care. For lack of a better way to describe it, the music perfectly fit the game at almost all times. It made the levels seem more intense, it made the bosses seem more intimidating and it made my fist-pumping and assorted yelling after succeeding in a fight seem almost justifiable.
Verytex also doesnít try to get too complicated, instead giving you a simple system that works. There are a total of three primary weapons: an awesome spread attack that has the added benefit of being able to lay waste to foes coming up on you from behind; a reasonably useful wave attack that takes up virtually the entire screen, but isnít overly powerful and a not-so-great laser that might be powerful, but covers far less of the screen than the other two. To supplement whichever main attack you prefer using, you can obtain bombs, homing missiles and a protective shield. Power-up items are reasonably plentiful, so you shouldnít have much trouble changing from one weapon to another or enhancing the one you currently possess.
As youíve likely noticed, two of those weapons (as well as the homing missiles) can cover a good portion of the screen. Youíll appreciate that during most of the boss fights, as nearly all of these guys have multiple attacks which they emit constantly. Whether it be the direction-changing lasers shot by the big baddie of the second level, the charging attack performed by the fifth levelís boss or the ďHow the hell am I supposed to dodge these!!??Ē beams fired CONSTANTLY by the final villain, itís a safe bet that youíll gain a new appreciation for being able to hit foes from any angle after youíve gotten through Verytex.
Sadly, this game is host to a number of flaws, which makes it hard for me to maintain my heretofore positive attitude any longer. So, without further ado, letís jump into a little thing Iím calling:
THREE THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU -- VERYTEX EDITION
1. This game has some of the ugliest backgrounds Iíve ever seen on a 16-bit system. I have no idea exactly what the fifth stage is attempting to portray....no clue whatsoever. The second stage has a nice lunar surface that frequently is replaced by what may be a city. Or a factory. Or a base. The intestinal tracts that the final stage regurgitates from virtually every other sci-fi shooter looked better in LifeForce -- an older game on the less-powerful NES. And that doesnít even take into consideration my earlier complaint that when the backgrounds start getting busy, you can start having serious problems making out enemies and their bullets.
2. Speaking of bullets, what the heckís up with that final boss? Up until the final battle, this game had been a fairly fun shooter that wasnít particularly cheap (besides the occasional death from unseen bullets...). Then, after defeating its first two forms, the FINAL battle commences and youíre immediately destroyed by the combination of fireballs (some of which home in on you) and extremely thick beams quickly fired in your general direction. You fight the boss again....same result. And again. And again. Finally, you find a blind spot (assuming you have the proper weaponry) and win without breaking a sweat. Iíve seen a lot of final shooter bosses. Some are tough, while others are anticlimactic. This is just poor programming, though. Asmik created an opponent designed to be next-to-impossible UNLESS you have the right equipment and are in a certain spot -- in which case youíll have no problem.
3. After said final boss beats you for the first time, you might get caught off guard when you realize you have to replay the ENTIRE LEVEL to get back to it! Letís just say that when confronted with what initially seems to be an unbeatable final foe, you likely arenít going to be overjoyed at the thought of going through 5-10 minutes of intense playing (including a couple minibosses, a pathetically boring boss and the first two forms of the final foe) to get a second chance at the damn thing! To say I donít understand the reasoning here would be an understatement.
Despite having sub-par graphics, Verytex is able to boast great atmosphere thanks to the music. However, that isnít enough to save it from some near-crippling flaws. This isnít a bad shooter (Iíve played many that are far worse), but I must admit that itís not on the level as the better games of its time period. I had my share of fun playing Verytex, but I also endured no small amount of frustration and exasperation with the gameís flaws. Itís a solid Megadrive shooter that can be enjoyable to play from time-to-time, but I wouldnít say this is an essential game to either own or play.
Community review by overdrive (August 11, 2005)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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