"With a spelling error in the title, a domicile on a sometimes technically inept console, and membership in a genre that prides itself on redundancy, expectations are not particularly high for Gley Lancer. ďA shoot-em-up,Ē said I, ďon the Mega Drive no less! I look forward to the suicidal alien pilots, ear-bleeding music, grainy graphics, and a selection of generic weapons ranging from lasers to different color lasers to bullets that fire so fast that they are actually just a different k..."
With a spelling error in the title, a domicile on a sometimes technically inept console, and membership in a genre that prides itself on redundancy, expectations are not particularly high for Gley Lancer. ďA shoot-em-up,Ē said I, ďon the Mega Drive no less! I look forward to the suicidal alien pilots, ear-bleeding music, grainy graphics, and a selection of generic weapons ranging from lasers to different color lasers to bullets that fire so fast that they are actually just a different kind of laser.Ē While all of these expectations, of course, were fulfilled without shame, the mass of shooter conventions known as Gley Lancer still manages to remain enjoyable by being competent in its execution, which is more than can be said of other stock moulds in the genre. It may feel like youíve already played Gley Lancer before Ė you might even mistakenly refer to it as R-Force or Thunder Type Ė but it does the shooting up of them and all objects there between with enough satisfaction that its unoriginality can almost be forgiven.
So we have a genre and a space ship that will obviously be called the Gley Lancer (named such because it is gley in color), now all we need is the filler to pacify any players that arenít motivated solely by bloodlust and racist hate for aliens. The year is 2025 but fashion is depressingly stuck in a late 80ís manga. You are a young female space pilot who has painful memories of either her father or her husband who is way too old for her, and in order to avenge and/or find him you must pilot a small ship through an alien armada and commit what said aliens will likely chronicle as the most atrocious genocide in their history. At least, I think thatís what happened. Itís in Japanese, so itís not like you can call me out on this.
There are slide-show cutscenes which arenít entirely unpleasing to the eye, but that doesnít change the fact that this is a shooter and thus the narrative is irrelevant. Thereís even a computerized voice that speaks every now and then during stages and it may perhaps be saying story-related things, but bugger me if I can understand a word of it. Itís in English, I think, since I can sometimes capture familiar phonemes in the garbled mess, but complete statements are utterly incoherent. Iíd like to believe that it is telling me how wonderful I am at the shooting up of things and that I am sexually appealing, but perhaps Iím just projecting too hard. Itís a cheesy touch that reminds the player just how fixed
Grey Gley Lancer is in a now obsolete gaming style from the late 80ís.
There are eleven stages, which is frankly too many when there isnít a level select mode, and nearly all of them are cookies cut from the dough of the generic shooter recipe. Expect to start at one arbitrary point in space and need to get to another arbitrary point on the other side of space, which just happens to be inhabited by a boss and the path just happens to be paved with gun turrets and ships that fly around in synchronized patterns. A flight through a cave that culminates in a battle with a twisting snake? A level that scrolls at double speed through an alien base? Circling around a battleship while taking out gun placements? I look forward to the inevitable battle with a flying brain.
The scrolling is locked and your ship is stuck facing the right side of the screen Ė but donít be too surprised if you spend some time scrolling upwards or backwards. Such moments wonít be a hassale thanks to Gley
Thunder Lancerís attempted innovation, the ability to command your movers, the two helper drones that fly at your side, to fire in any direction. Hereís how it works: when you start your game, you selection one of seven different styles (two of which are just existing styles that have been inverted), such as Gradius mode shadow mode, in which your movers mimic your shipís actions, and rotate mode. The default has them turn in the direction that the player presses the D-pad, which effectively allows the player to fire in a 360 degree radius. You can use the C button at any time to lock them in place, meaning targeting enemies anywhere on the screen is effortless.
Unfortunately the game never really takes advantage of this feature beyond having enemies spawn from behind. One level in particular stands out as an exception though: it takes place in an icy cave and has the player scrolling in different directions, shooting ice blocks in their path. It was the only moment that really felt unique to Gley Lancer, but perhaps it was just inspired by a game I havenít played yet.
Other than that, youíre already played
R-Type Gley Lancer without knowing it. Itís your classic mix-match of flying robots, twisting serpents, large machines that shoot lasers, random bug things in caves, and white-dotted space scrolling at a comfortable pace. Despite being so unoriginal, Lightening Force Gley Lancer is still a fun experience in the right hands. Except for the final boss, which is a nightmare of cheapness and save state abuse, the difficulty is scaled perfectly to accommodate players of all skill levels. There are four difficulty settings to challenge, so any competent shmupper should be able to find a comfortable match. Itís just the type of thing to play if you havenít reached your random-alien-killing quota for the week, and you have an hour to waste but do not feel like doing something useful to improve the quality of the human condition.
Presentation-wise, Gley Lancer remains competent with excellent use of parallax scrolling to create the illusion of depth. Thereís nothing like the water level from Thunder Force IV here, but itís proficient enough to be not not attractive. The quality of the soundtrack isnít bad either, for a Genesis game anyway Ė the synthesizers still sound like a deranged cat giving birth in a wood-chipper.
Itís unfortunate that Gley Lancer lacks the style and flair to make it stand out much among the faceless mass of mediocre shooters. Playing it is like driving a Buick Ė comfortable and satisfying, but largely unremarkable. Itís the kind of thing you might want to be familiar with so that you can drop its name in conversations to prove your 1337ness, but itís not worth much dedication on its own merits. There are better shooters out there Ė even better shooters on the Genesis Ė but Gley Lancer doesnít necessarily do anything wrong besides being yet-another-shooter. Well, that and it spells its own name wrong.
Community review by dagoss (July 15, 2008)
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