Viewed but not yet readily available, Gleylancer is switching from the Mega Drive and the virtual Wii console to the Nintendo Switch eShop. It could be the best shooter you’ve ever played.
Gleylancer is set in 2025, which probably seemed a long way off in 1992. When alien invaders from space attack the Earth Federation’s fleet, Admiral Cabrock’s ship is moved to another sector. You play as his daughter Lucia, who steals the prototype ship (the Advanced Busterhawk Gleylancer) to save him.
It’s different to see so much action in one shmup. As unnecessary as it may be, in this case Gleylancer outperforms the competition. The translated story with cool anime cutscenes that are fun add character to the game and make it more memorable.
Gleylancer uses a movement system that includes a pair of accompanying gunners. There are seven different setups with the gunners firing in 16 directions (forward, backward, and rotating), and you can lock them in place. After experimenting, you will likely go for the search feature, which auto-targeting (even if not 100%) is just too helpful. The arrangement and personalization of the ship powerups give the game an unexpected depth.
In the modern version of the game (the Japanese ‘vintage’ is also included), you can switch those gunners in no time and even aim freely with the right stick. While I rarely use the latter, it gives the game a bit of a twin-stick feel and is helpful in some tight situations. When you add adjustments between a quartet of speed settings to make yourself less of a target, juggling may sound like a lot. But Gleylancer isn’t as exhausting as many other shmups.
That’s not to say that Gleylancer is easy, but smart choices make it a top choice for those less experienced with the genre. Granted, some are not needed. Why is there the auto fire option when the game isn’t already a button push? Is holding a button too much or do you need to be more passive and let the game shoot for you? But I digress. A lot of annoyances can be found in other shmups that you won’t find here. There are fair checkpoints, good hit detection, 1-ups and more.
Be warned that the modern version seems to be set to Hard difficulty by default. There’s no shield either, so it’s one and done with the enemies. Initially, when you learn the game, the chances are that you will be bumped from an off-camera fall. Stray bullets are also likely, and they can blend into the background at certain levels, making them difficult to spot in a firefight. I held out as long as possible before I started using the rewind feature. There’s no limit (maybe there should be) so use willpower with this optional help. You may not need it for bosses, however. As unique as they are, with the exception of level 11, they’re pretty manageable.
The stages themselves have a variety in layout. Some have environmental hazards such as B. narrow quarters compared to more open spaces. In these you can find that you are navigating more slowly and, so to speak, have the opportunity to catch your breath. It’s not all horizontal movement as there is a bit of vertical and even rotating level design. Gleylancer also has threats that you cannot destroy.
The variety extends to the graphics. Gleylancer’s science fiction environment benefits from parallax scrolling. Different colors can be seen, with royal purple water and koquelicot orange sunsets that contrast nicely with the blackness of space. My only weak point is that there are only two bezels if you go for unstretched displays.
As pleasant as the retro 16-bit graphics are, the sound in particular made an impression. This soundtrack features some of the best 16-bit music ever to come out of a SEGA machine. All the melodies that remind me of “Vultan’s Theme (Attack of The Hawk Men)” by Flash Gordon are winners. A music test is included which is aces. Gleylancer is a game that is almost as fun as it is to play, especially for players who grew up in the 16-bit era. You have to love these scratchy voice samples!
If you’ve played a variety of shmups, this game may not feel like it the unique, but it will be fun! In addition to the shooters, the variety of weapons is an outstanding feature. You’ll find yourself testing weapons and the icons actually have enough subtle differences to be recognizable. This game is not flat.
Gleylancer is a deep shooter that goes from being a good shmup to being a great one the longer I’ve played it. For the initiated, this clever shooter is a feat and I can now understand why. It’s smooth, addicting, very repeatable, and fun, with rarely dull moments. If you are a genre enthusiast consider this an essential addition to your game library. Kudos to Ratalaika Games for launching it and for only $ 6.99. If this game had co-op it might have been a 10.