Release Date: 25/05/06
Ah, shoot-em-ups, eh? Is there any genre of videogame more involving and rewarding than a good ol' blaster? The answer is, of course, "erm, no, probably not. I'm not sure?" Coming from Chaos Field developers Milestone, Radirgy is to all intents your standard bullet-hell blaster, but with a compelling system and style of its own.
GeneriC is actually an updated port of the arcade and Dreamcast originals (a PS2 version is also available called Radirgy PreciouS - do you see what they've done there?), but the differences between each is negligible. With your standard Arcade and Score Attack modes, the only extra for the GameCube is the Manpuku mode - identical to the Arcade version but it contains a slightly remixed soundtrack and a single-credit restriction to help you develop your one-credit-run skills.
You certainly get a lot more bullets thrown your way than usual in Radirgy, and considerably more than there were in Chaos Field. (Incidentally, if you're confused over the pronunciation of Radirgy, it's what might emit from your gob if you were to say "radio" but be thinking of the word "allergy" at the same time - "ray-dur-jee"). There's a mobile phone-using/radiowave allergy theme that's affecting main character Kamigusa Shizuru so much that she decides to hop into her tooled-up robot and blow the shit out of a thousand other flying mecha - it's far too convoluted and peculiar (or more accurately, Japanese) for me to go into, but the gameplay itself is mostly familiar territory, with mid- and end-level bosses and a few power-ups and special point items to collect.
Visually, as passé as cel-shading might be seen as nowadays, it has to be said Radirgy does look lovely. Consisting of five levels that progress from a clear morning through dusk and then to night, Radirgy is sharp and vibrant, from the bullets, backgrounds and pick-ups, it all bounces along to the up-beat techno music. The controls are strikingly similar to Chaos Field, and the Radiant Silvergun-style sword returns that can be used to swipe away certain bullets, as do the three similar shooting type mecha. The standard wide-shot mecha is perhaps the most satisfying to use, but the laser and bubble-bomb (which is very powerful) types offer an intriguing alternative style of play. The player can also select a speed for their mecha, making bullet-dodging easier with low speeds, but sacrificing movement at the same time. And so to the hook: Radirgy requires you to shoot down enemies and chain kills together by continually shooting or swiping them when up-close and personal. The more you destroy, the more capsules your mecha will collect and this fills up your ABSNET gauge - once this is filled, you can deploy your bomb which destroys all that's caught in its blast radius. Bomb as many enemies as you can and your multiplier will increase - multiplying your chain score by up to x32. As over-blown as that might all seem, it works and isn't too difficult to understand after a few hours' play. It's a finely balanced risk/reward style of gameplay that needs to be constantly pushed, otherwise you will never hit the high multipliers, and as is the case, that's easier said than done.
The real beauty of Radirgy is the way in which it allows you to exploit the scoring system and discover your own favourite way of playing. I've already discovered two styles of play to refill the bomb gauge as quick as possible: one is to leave as many bullets and enemies on screen as possible before dishing out the pain and the other, more complex method, is to continuously swipe every power-up item on screen until one "switches" into a type that can turn all enemies into refill capsules. Looking at how the professionals do it, it's obvious there are plenty more game styles to master. The hit-box is particularly generous - it's a tiny little thing that allows you to weave in and out of the most deadly situations and also crucially sends luck your way every now and again during the many weave-and-hope moments of the game.
As with most shooters, the more practice you put in, the more you'll get from it. It's true the game can be finished in a few hours with its generous supply of continues, but that's largely missing the point as the addictive Score Attack mode will testify. Karous looks set to expand the style and system even further in 2007, but Radirgy has undoubtedly delivered one of the most consuming and pleasing bullet-hell shooters of the year.