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Axelay (SNES) artwork

Axelay (SNES) review


"When it comes to this genre, I can safely say that I am no expert. Taking advice from veterans and shooter connoisseurs and after being chronically depressed by the marathon levels in Space Megaforce, I came across Laxe. "



When it comes to this genre, I can safely say that I am no expert. Taking advice from veterans and shooter connoisseurs and after being chronically depressed by the marathon levels in Space Megaforce, I came across Laxe.

Otherwise known in pig Latin as Axelay. This game has been ripped to shreds by SNES haters, praised by shooter fanatics and was confused for a Barbarian dating agency service by someone who had no idea what I was talking about. Axelay, however, is neither a masterpiece nor a stinker. It hands us a blend of horizontal and vertical scrolling levels and the ability to mix and match three different weapons. For shooter fans, it’s the cream of the crop.

Before you start each level, you can pick three weapons for your arsenal. Two of them are for clearing the array of flying foes and the third type allows you to bomb grounded terrors that slither along the cracked soil. Your weapon selection will increase as you progress further allowing you to eject great balls of fire from your gun. However, other weapons are more complicated and less enthralling. One fires two thin beams that spread out and rotate around your ship, slowly. So, if this beam is behind you and enemy ships are pelting your ass, you better be a good pilot. If you’re not, then you’re screwed. Royally screwed. If you run out of all three weapons, you’ll be given the gun I like to call the Peashooter. Using it on enemies is pretty tough and when you come across bosses, you’ll have a better chance killing a bear with some suction arrows.

Enemy craft swoop down at a constant rate. Even on the first level, you’ll be flooded by a huge amount of ships that fly in formation. They form a circle around you and close in on your ship. Shoot fast or you’ll be in trouble. Other ships fly directly at you, easy cannon fodder for your beams. Robot walkers emerge from the ground and scuttle along the earth, firing upwards. They’re no match for your bombs and a carefully aimed one can wipe out an enemy unit. Gigantic sand worms lunge from their underground caverns and crash back down to their lairs. Again, control is everything and if you’re not fast enough, this throbbing pole of hot worm chicken will crush you into scrap metal.

If the enemies are too much for you, then the bosses will be your immediate downfall. The array of ghastly and large creatures is incredibly varied and threatening. The huge Spider robot of level one and the bizarre Traffic Cone of Doom are just some of the less inspiring bosses. The Spider creature uses his webs to hinder your progress and sacrifices his own children to stop you from annihilating him. Heartless bastard! We also have a terrifying mesh of metal and muscle. An enormous satanic beast arises from the river of lava and uses his huge paws, dripping with molten liquid to swat you from the sky. He looks like a teenie-bopper version of mecha-Satan so try not to laugh too hard.

Axelay brilliantly amalgamates the two types of shooter into one. While vertical levels have a wide area to fly through with lots of obstacles like blocked entryways and floating rocks, the horizontal ones provide the most challenge. Gigantic barrages of crystal and rock will block your path; luckily your gun clears it all away. Your ship will dive underwater and you’ll have to battle with undersea creatures. Sometimes, these levels are cheap. You’ll come across the pinnacle of annoyance, the closing door. These rather small doors slowly begin to close and if you don’t fly through them ASAP, you can kiss your ass goodbye. They usually come in a set so if you mess up on one, I wouldn’t recommend messing up on the next one.

Axelay is beautiful. Even this games harshest critic cannot deny that this is one visually intense ride. From the clouds floating blissfully in the sky to the flowing river of lava, Axelay is a sweet assault on your vision. The side scrolling worlds are often presented with rotting industrial structures or the aesthetics of the dark caverns. They look good but are blown out of the water by the fantastically detailed and perfectly animated bosses. The lava monster is a masterpiece (even though he looks rather goofy) you can tell that the SNES was pushed hard when it came to Axelay. It paid off well.

It’s a treat to play for those who dig this unforgiving genre. The weapon selection allows you to try out alternate ways of blowing the crap out of stuff, despite the fact that a handful of them do not fare well. The mix of vertical and horizontal levels is another superb addition, despite not being original it does add in some variety to a genre that is often lacking. Some cheap moves in Axelay do drag the fun out of the levels, a bit but it was my only complaint. The closing doors and barrages may piss you off but if you’re actually good at the game, they’ll just be part of the challenge. Axelay may not be the definite shooter but it’s worth getting if it’s your thing.

Rating: 7/10

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Community review by goldenvortex (August 31, 2005)

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