"Do not play Recca if you have a heart condition or do not wish to develop a heart condition. That's not even a joke. Recca is one of those shooters that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs and beat your head against the floor until you are found days later curled in the fetal position in a cold shower foaming at the mouth -- in the best way possible. Your hands will twitch furiously, you'll stop blinking, and -- with all probability -- you will lose control of your..."
Do not play Recca if you have a heart condition or do not wish to develop a heart condition. That's not even a joke. Recca is one of those shooters that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs and beat your head against the floor until you are found days later curled in the fetal position in a cold shower foaming at the mouth -- in the best way possible. Your hands will twitch furiously, you'll stop blinking, and -- with all probability -- you will lose control of your breathing. Playing Recca could kill you. There is nothing lethargic or peaceful about this shooter; it is hectic, beautiful, and extraordinarily satisfying.
Recca is a primitive version of what we today call maniac or danmaku shooters (lit. "bullet curtain") -- meaning lots-o-bullets, lots-o-enemies, and nosebleed speed. Unlike games such as Gradius or R-Type that have you fly your itty-bitty ship leisurely through the enemy armada, Recca spits massive bullet storms and wave upon wave of suicidal enemies in your face like bees (super fast bees that shoot lasers) attracted to a flower.
From a technical standpoint, Recca is a miracle of 8-bit technology. There is virtually no slow down. Think about that for a second. A Famicom game with dozens of moving objects simultaneously flying at break neck speeds across the screen with no slow down. To put that in perspective, Super Mario Bros 3 has slowdown when there are four or more enemies on the screen. Backgrounds in Recca twist and congeal like fluids, explosions burst into dazzling colours, and enemies dart around in tight formations like a singular organism. Technical achievement here does not just result in pretty images, it is an integral part to the aesthetic experience.
Power-ups are plentiful, so you'll never go more than a few seconds without a weapon. This is mildly irritating since you'll more often than not be avoiding power-ups (or waiting for them to change) so as to not lose your preferred weapon, but you'll certainly be grateful for this feature when you die. Weapons are divided into two types, primary and secondary. The blue items augment your primary attack with the stock variety one comes to expect from a shooter. Your secondary attack consists of two red cannons that fly at your sides. Depending on the secondary pick-up you have, they will rotate around you, fire forwards, fire backwards, or even lock on to targets. Because they are mapped to separate buttons, you can use the secondary attack while the primary attack is not in use. When you cease using your primary weapon, the energy bottlenecks into a large sphere at the nose of your ship. Once it reaches full size, it can be fired to create a dazzling, festive explosion. While charging, it also protects your ship by absorbing small bullets, similar to the force item in the R-Type series.
There are only four levels. After you beat them, you'll be rewarded with the almost insulting words "Super Hard Shooting Game - Reeca" before the credits, in case you didn't notice that the game you just beat was absurdly difficult. Your play experience is not even finished either. If you perform a soft reset, you can play the game again with remixed levels that are difficult beyond human skill.
Just so we're clear, Recca is the good kind of difficult. When you die, you know why you died -- you sucked. There is no such thing as a cheap death in Recca, and thanks to a forgiving power-up system that lets you jump right back into the game you'll not be out of the fray for more than a split second. When you are greeted with the inevitable "Game Over" screen, there will be no one to blame but yourself. It's not the game's fault that you don't have the reflexes of a humming bird. There are no continues, but you probably didn't get past level two anyway.
Make no mistake -- Recca is for shooter enthusiasts and Nintendo historians only. It will strip you of your dignity, bend you over your TV, and violently rape for every second that you play it. That's what you secretly wanted anyway though, otherwise you wouldn't be playing a shoot 'em up in the first place. Recca is a bit rough around the edges -- the music is heartpounding yet unmemorable and the bullet storms lean towards chaos rather than art -- but there simply isn't another Famicom (or even Super Famicom) game like this. With blazing fast level progression, score attack and survival modes, and a stage select cheat, Recca is easy to pick for a quick game. It might be a bit dated, but at a time when console shooters were plagued with slow-down, lousy ports, and rehashed ideas, Recca did something completely different and it did it very well.
Community review by dagoss (February 08, 2008)
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