Many Years Ago, theearly days of computer games appearing on the pc, I bought an into-the-screen shoot em up called Silpheed. There wasn't a single screen shot on the cover of the game - just loads of hard-sell quotes from American (and probably non-existent) magazines and endless reams of cover blurb about how it would have you flying about on gorgeous planets and through outer space, having the time of your life and shooting anyone who cut you up at the intergalactic lights. When I got it home - well, to work, to be honest - and started playing it. it turned out to be nothing of the sort, of course. It turned out to be a rather poor into-the-screen shoot 'em up. I felt much the same way that most Mac users probably do these days when they read the stuff on the box of the latest much-vaunted Mac game, which again is screen shot-free, and get it home to find it was a pc shareware game in 1985. Luckily, at the time I bought Silpheed, you only had to take'a game back to the shop and say it didnt run on your machine to exchange it for something else, so thats exactly what I did.
Why have I mentioned this?
...Because there are many elements in Nova-storm that remind me somewhat of the ancient pc version of Silpheed. You fly into the screen. You view your little spacecraft thing from behind. And horror of horrors, no matter where you move your craft to onscreen, be it far top left or deepest bottom right, your bullets are fired unerringly towards the centre of the screen. As you can imagine, this can be annoying if the thing you want to shoot happens to sidle across to one edge of the screen, remaining there in complete safety because your shots are still aiming at the centre. And if its also bombarding you with an array of unpleasant explosive devices at the time, it becomes doubly irritating.
But Im getting ahead of myself. Before you get to see the wonders of this game in all their glory, you must first experience the cinematic delights of a soul-suckingly endless, and totally pointless, introductory movie sequence that goes to great lengths to tell you the plot for the game. Actors act; bits of machinery fly about; actors die; special effects are used in dramatic ways, and eventually - after sitting in front of your monitor like a dummy until your legs go numb - you manage to piece together the complexities of the situation in which you find yourself. Gradually it becomes clear what you must do in order to succeed: shoot everything.
So, armed with this information, and now thoroughly aware of your motivation for this scene, into the game you go, gun blazing. Well, firing out little blue bits of laser-ish stuff, anyway. And thats it, for as long as it takes for you to get bored. It's straightforward, bog-standard shoot em up territory: a series of sections in which .things race towards you or appear over your shoulder for you to fire at (and which, perspective-wise, are often hard to relate to the background at all) followed by the traditional end-of-level boss, in front of which you hover until you kill it or it kills you. Each time you reach the end of a section, youll be treated to dramatic cut-scene footage of your ship zooming down through swirly landscapes, or climbing elegantly away into the clouds. Tilings explode, you crash, you fall asleep.
I know what youre thinking...
...Youre thinking that the backgrounds look good, that the end-of-level bosses look impressive and that the thing might be a bit of a laugh. What you cant see, though, is that it doesnt matter where you fly in the backgrounds, youll still be taken through the bits you have to go through -between rocky outcrops, down murky trenches, etc. Yes, if you fly into" any jutting walls in the backgrounds you lose energy. But all this really means is that theres a box around the edge of the area you move in - you still just move about in a flat plane while the backgrounds whizz around you, and you get taken to where youre meant to go. The term for this type of game, Ive just been told, is a game on rails. And although the backgrounds certainly do look very pretty, they dont look a lot different to those made on landscape generation programs, where you can design a tract of land in any way you choose, and devise a fly-by route with which to view it. This game is essentially one of those with a flat, uninspired shoot em up game stuck over the top.
Its obvious. The games industry operates identically to the film industry, where any film thats successful generates a host of imitations (Bram Stokers Dracula begets Mary Shelleys Frankenstein; Doom begets bloody everything, etc.). Rebel Assault had linear shoot em up sections in stunning landscapes, intercut with film clips taken from the movies and shifted a fair few units: here come the copies. Unfortunately, taking a tired old shoot 'em up engine, adding some cut scenes and a dash of acting and sticking sections of it in a trench doesnt make another Rebel Assault. See that score? Thirty of those points are for the background graphics. Avoid.
Novastorm is as smooth as silk on the 3DO, but it suffers from the same fate as the Sega CD version: It's so easy that this 'Storm is just a squall.
There's Nova Business
As a pilot for the Scavenger Strike Squadron, you watched your world go up in flames. Now you're dying to take a stab at the Scarab X, the computer defense system that annihilated mankind.
You pilot your ship through four gorgeous extraterrestrial terrains: an ice planet, a desert planet, a lava planet, and finally, the space cruiser where the enemy hangs out. Your ship is equipped with a standard cannon and three screen-clearing smart bombs, and you can upgrade your ship through power-ups.
The graphics are spectacular. Smoothly scrolling terrain matches nicely with huge, showy mech-hybrid bosses. The enemy ships are varied and well animated, but some slowdown pops up when you face the bosses.
The music has a real Tech-notronic feel, but the funkified rhythms get ridiculous (in one part, you'll swear you hear a dog barking). The amplified explosions are a treat.
Although it looks good and sounds all right, Novastorm is no hardcore shooter. You'll see bosses so often that it feels just like a real job. If you could get through StarFox on the SNES, you'll destroy this breezy'Storm.
- The best power-ups are the Three Shot weapon and the Purpte Cannon, Don't pick up other power-ups when y&u have these.
- The Green Pods are protective power-upsi use torn to Now mogto Hie enemy tine.
If you've played Sewer Shark or Microcosm, you've already played Novastorm. Novastorm is a very simple shooter that has you fighting against poorly drawn enemies (except for the Bosses) on a computer graphic background Fortunately you can find a few power-ups enabling you to shoot down at least a few of the alien ships. I'm not too fond of FMV, and this isn't an exception.
liieeee! Haven't I seen this game before? Oh, sorry. Psygnosis jumps on the bandwagon again to bring us another mindless shooting game with pretty background graphics. Sound like a few other games? Of course! The video is very clean and nice to look at, but the game itself is nothing special to play and gets repetitive quite quickly. Not my cup of tea but will appeal to some.
It was quite obvious from the beginning that I wasn't going to enjoy this game. I knew it the moment I saw the FMV cinemas and the rendered scenery in which you pilot your ship. It's not even fun to look at. Then there's the control, which seemed to lag. The game consists of moving your ship around the screen to avoid the shots that come your way. It has no technique and no fun.
This reminds me of Microcosm. The game is rather basic with minimal shooter qualities. It seems they spent more time on the textured backgrounds than on the actual shooter. For those who like these games, the graphics are excellent and there are some high-quality cinemas. For an old-timer like myself, I need more fast-paced action in a shooter. However, it is great to look at.