CGRundertow OTOMEDIUS EXCELLENT for Xbox 360 Video Game Review
Let’s cut to the point: Cute girls, wearing
little but… spaceships. See what you’ve done, relentless forces of moe anthropomorphism?
What in blazes could you possibly use to justify THIS? It’s an all-girls school of combat pilots?
It’s been done. Um, they’re saving the world from equally
cute things? I’m getting a toothache. It’s effectively just Gradius with boobs?
Okay, I’ll buy that. Welcome to Otomedius Excellent, Konami’s
latest cute-’em-up and the last thing you want a prospective girlfriend to see lying
on your coffee table. Questions will be asked. Your taste will be a topic of discussion.
Fortunately, your ability to identify an awesome space shooter will be unassailable. It really
is just like Gradius. With boobs. And I loved Gradius. Whether it’s the original
tough-as-nails challenge, or the customization of Gradius III for the SNES, in the arcade,
at home, or on a big-screen in a game center in Legend of the Mystical Ninja. It’s the
seminal shooter experience: Scroll to the right, blow up enemy craft, collect power-ups,
and cash ‘em in for upgrades on the fly. And like a good buffet, you’ve got options.
But you’ve also got big ol’ whompin’ bosses in your face, which – in true Gradius
format – have energy cores protected by some number of protective shields. Often these
shields are set up in a line in a very narrow corridor, requiring you to concentrate your
fire just right to actually land effective shots. This is by no means a bullet hell game,
as there’s no where near enough ordnance on the screen at a time to earn that title
– but a similar level of precision is required. During the character select, where you get
to choose from girls representing series such as Gradius, Life Force, Salamander, TwinBee,
or – if you lay down the five bucks for the DLC character – even Castlevania, you can
customize the loadout of your chosen fighter. Variations on missiles, lasers, rapidfire,
and various drone-gun configurations fill in the standard power-up palate between L1
(which is always a speed boost) and L6 (which recharges your shield). New weapon cards can
be found during play, either in the story mode or multiplayer. The issue then becomes
finding people to play with. People who don’t mind it being known that they play Otomedius
Excellent. Let’s face it. It’s only by a relative
miracle that this game made it to the US at all, let alone with a special edition including
an art book, soundtrack, and bonus Gradius-themed content. How were they able to pack all of
that in? By saying “Screw it!” to the idea of an English dub, apparently. And given
the tone, given the demographic, given the niche nature of this game, I don’t think
that’s entirely unwarranted. It’s cute anime girls, wearing next to nothing, in gameplay
straight out of 1988. Your average gamer will be moderately disturbed, your hardcore shooter
fan might find it a bit on the easy side (but appreciate the level of customization). Your
obsessive otaku, though, may just lose his **** when the girl from Tokimeki Memorial
shows up as a boss character and starts raising hell. This is a game for that kind of person.