Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Jamie843030
The eXceed Collection Review
Summary: "BULLET HELL COMES AT A HEAVENLY PRICE!" Couldn't have said it better myself!
Tennen-sozai, Nyu Media and Capcom present The eXceed COLLECTION exclusively for PC!
So I understand indie developers Tennen-sozai spun off from FLAT Software developers of the original eXceed – Gun Bullet Children, to bring us Vampire REX and Jade Penetrate the second and third instalments of the series. Since then, they have become popular among Japanese gamers and eXceed is believed to be the flagship title for the brand.
Now available as a package on Steam ( and other good retailers ) for a reduced price, but should you pick them up?
“bullet hell: A genre of two-dimensional shoot ‘em up in which the playfield is almost filled with a barrage of enemy bullets.”
This is a review of the games as a collection and whether you should buy the bundle, or not. I have played all three titles but have not paid much attention to the storylines. See, from the moment I first saw a bullet hell game, I was overawed and bewildered by the seemingly inescapable barrage of bullets, the adrenalin pumping and arcade-like audio and the stunningly colourful visuals. Then when I got to play my first Danmaku, I recall the expected feeling of panic, but did not realise it would be accompanied by a sense of calm. Too senses that are seldom felt in unison and so it has always been about the gameplay, action and experience for me, never about the story.
eXceed – Gun Bullet Children was the dojin title that started the series and for reasons to be read, unfortunately not the greatest beginning in my opinion. Above Tokyo, Mankind is in danger of being wiped out by a vampiric invasion. Rivalled only by the powerful magic of the trained Gun Bullet Children, one of three at any one time which you take on the role of. This is a Japanese import and so all voices and dialogue apart from the menus are alien and so you never really know what’s going on. That being said, the authenticity is nice, but maybe subtitles would not have gone amiss? From the offset, I found the difficulty level best left to the hardcore fans of the genre. Movement was sluggish, enemy bullets seemed to be almost too sporadic and I often found myself in hopeless positions very early on frequently meeting my inevitable death before having any time to find my groove and get my head in the game. The whole process seemed tedious and even the voice actors sounded tired. Graphically Gun Bullet Children is definitely sub-par in comparison to it successors and drastically different. Evolution or not, it was not long before it was the final red bullet curtain for me and eXceed 1st. Of course, you may enjoy it and if so, there are five stages and boss battles to grind your way through and what with three playable characters each with their own individual storyline, high scores are not your only carrots dangling from sticks.
Vampire REX eXceed 2nd, slated for it’s inspired polarity gameplay, even said to be just a re-skin of Ikaruga I actually found to be much, much better. Now I haven’t played Ikaruga (yet), however, out of curiousity I have watched some gameplay and think both claims are a bit harsh. Yes the mechanics used are self admittedly inspired, but it’s hardly a carbon copy. Being primarily an iOS gamer these days, I’m no stranger to clones and appreciate there’s a fine line between similar and rip-off. While at the same time I feel players can nitpick, but each to their own entitled we are and it’s probably just passion. Anyway, onwards and upwards with this 2D vertical shooter! Following on from eXceed 1st, after the great war, Mankind’s powers-that-be have called for purification and the eradication of vampires and deviants bloodlines. Fighting for her life and those of her allies, you are Ria Fyle, a half-human half-vampire as you battle your way through eight frantic levels.I liked the polarity based gameplay and the speed-altering mechanics a lot. The former provided a new way to play bullet hell ( at least for those of us who have yet to try Ikaruga ) and variety. The latter while nothing new, gifted precision. Both were welcomed and fun tools in learning and exercising different strategies. There is too chain bonus scoring and something I’ve not quite figured out how to use yet, melee attacks! The graphics here are beautiful, a little aged but like a fine wine. Sprightly authentic Japanese voice actors are accompanied by a upbeat soundtrack and those best played loud arcade sound effects. Like the Yin of Gun Bullet Children’s Yang, Vampire REX was everything it’s predecessor was not. Challenging, yet fun and a joy to play and arguably the best of the bunch.
” ● Polarity
The player character and enemies have either HOLY or EVIL polarity, and each polarity is the
antithesis of the other. The player can completely absorb enemy bullets that match the polarity
of the player and the player’s bullets will inflict Critical Hits upon enemies of the opposite polarity,
causing twice as much damage as normal shots.
Battle through the waves of enemies and bosses and clear the game by switching the polarity of
the player character to suit the situation.
* Some enemies have no polarity. Critical Hits cannot be made on enemies that have no polarity.
* A time lag of 16 frames (about 0.6 seconds) will occur if the polarity is repeatedly changed. “
Last, but by no means least Jade Penetrate Black Package much like Vampire REX contains everything you would expect from a Bullet Hell shooter and if you have never played this sub genre before, eXceed 3rd is a good place to start due to it’s difficulty adjusting to the players ability dynamics.The slowdown feature is also an asset worth mentioning helping you weave your way out of a tight spot while switching and focusing fire on your enemies. During which time you can take advantage of the multiple bullet grazing and cancelling scoring system. Exceeding all the production value of eXceed 2nd, I’m still torn between which is my favourite and often launch one after the other. The storyline takes a new direction this time, you play as Rayne Lindwurm, a descendant of the Dragon Clan and fight your way through a tournament spread over six action packed levels to become one of the seven Cardinal Lords who rule her world, Pandemonium.
These being the first Bullet Hell titles I’ve played on PC, I found the keyboard controls easy to adapt to. They are responsive and bar the day I hopefully get to play some Bullet Hell on a real arcade cabinet or perhaps more realistically an iCade, I’m thinking this may be my chosen platform for future Shmups! All three ran surprisingly fast on my low-spec laptop and the Frames Per Second are displayed as an unobtrusive addition in the top left hand corner of your screen, which I thought was a nice touch.
Replays are available in eXceed 2nd and 3rd, unfortunately for your eyes only unless you have some sort of screen capture software to hand. A share option would have been welcomed, still it’s interesting to go back and watch your previous saves, maybe even picking up some pointers and learning where you went wrong to improve you chances next time. 2nd also has level select and all three have standard options such as config and difficulty settings.
Before purchasing the series, I found if there was anything to be said for The eXceed COLLECTION it was the awesome music, but see even then the comment revealed itself to be double-edged, see apparently the games were made to sell the soundtrack! I mean, come on – excluding the reviews on their website does anybody anywhere have anything at all positive to say? So what if they were, you have to hand to them for such a beautiful and elaborate marketing strategy.
Despite the bizarre titles and allegedly controversial storylines I’d definitely bag a bargain while you can. Like I said I wasn’t paying too much attention to the stories and quite frankly couldn’t give a hoot if my character is a Japanese girl, dragon, or spaceship. As long as the gameplay and presentation are there, that’s all I look for in a Bullet Hell game. For the most part they are solid single player shooters and a pleasing addition to my small library of PC games. Even if you could pick 2nd and 3rd up separately for less, notwithstanding my disappoint with the first, I think it’s nice to have the complete set even if that makes me sound like a sentimental old fool. Whether you are a veteran or new to the genre, these offerings combine danmaku, manic and Ikaruga inspired polarity mechanics supplying enough challenge for experienced players, without being inaccessible to newcomers.
For more information on The eXceed COLLECTION please visit the lovely links found below.
Game website URL: www.exceedseries.com
Forum URL: http://nyu-media.com/forum/games-group2/the-exceed-series-forum8