- Manufacturer: NAMCO
- Machine: Sega Genesis
A few years ago, a game called Legendary Wings was released for the NES. Too easy for hard-core arcade addicts, it was nonetheless a beautiful variation of slide and-shoot, with a mythological theme. Phelios is based on the same concept: a shoot-'em-up cloaked in characters and scenery out of Greek mythology. With the addition of Genesis' arcade-quality graphics and sound, you have an exceptionally striking rendition of the theme.
You are Apollo, riding your winged horse Pegasus. You must travel through seven different areas in order to reach the beautiful Artemis. Artemis has been imprisoned by evil Typhon and turned to stone. However, at the end of each level lurks one of Typhon's stronger guards; defeating a guard allows Artemis to return to life briefly. Every time she revives, she offers advice or encouragement for the subsequent level.
Typhon is found at the end of the seventh level, and he can only be defeated with Phelios, the Sword of Light. Phelios is only available during the last level, so you'll be using lesser weaponry until then. Weapons and various power-ups (such as beams, hyperspeed, homing bombs, additional lives and small sprites that hover about and fire alongside you) are available by shooting golden owls. Once shot, the owls transform into letters; you swoop over and pick up the letters.
A gauge at the side of the screen shows you how much power your current weapon has, and that power can be used to its best advantage by holding the fire button down and letting it charge. Some weapons are only useful for a limited amount of time and degrade after prolonged use.
Your view of the action is from overhead at all times. The game utilizes several variations of scrolling to create some really startling effects. At one point, clouds scroll by in multiple levels, and the direction of the scroll shifts, seemingly at random, sideways and diagonally. The result is an amazing feeling of vertigo and weightlessness. Other multilevel scrolling creates the illusion of deep trenches, tall towers and other immense structures, floating and descending beneath you. As you weave through and around these structures, you fend off the usual flying adversaries.
Each level ends in a dungeon. The dungeons are filled with nasties, and at the end of each dungeon lurks a boss guard. These guards are characters from mythology: Medusa, with her head of writhing snakes; Geryon, the three witches who share a single eye, and more. One advantage the game gives you in battling the guards is in a series of single-screen synopses, available when the game starts, telling where the bosses' weaknesses lie. There are some clever puzzles along the way, but to deal with these hazards, you'll have to figure out what the best approach and best weapons are.
The music is crystal clear and in full stereo, with some majestic passages. The sound effects are excellent, with a feeling of solidity and realism that make it feel like fireworks are actually going off in the room.
There's a lot of voice synthesis, announcing which power-up items you've obtained and providing the voice of Artemis. The voice synthesis was less than impressive, high-pitched and full of static, but this is likely to change when the game goes through the final translation from Japanese to English.
Overall, Phelios is a very refreshing change from the usual slide-and-shoot and takes good advantage of the Genesis' power. Far more interesting visually than Thunderforce II or Truxton, Phelios is deserving of a place in a Genesis fan's library of games.
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- Levels: 7
- Theme: Shooter
- Players: 1
- Difficulty: Average
Methodical monsters and other creatures come to life as you are mounted on a winged pegasus out to rescue the fair princess from the clutches of evil. Intense mythical shooting action!