E3: Otomedius Excellent


Attention, fans of cleavage and shoot ’em ups: Konami have a game for you.

After depriving Western shmup fans of the first two entries in its Otomedius series, Konami have decided to localize the upcoming third entry , Otomedius Excellent.

Otomedius is the spiritual successor to the Gradius/Parodius series, continuing their difficult horizontal shooter action and numerous load-out options. You also get to decide which ability to enable/upgrade, as you collect items after defeating highlighted enmies. So, yeah, it’s a Gradius game with large-breasted anime girls and bright, colorful backdrops.

Did I mention the game looks pretty in HD? I’m a sucker for twee, Dreamcast-esque games that take place on beaches, moon-lit highways and lava-filled caverns. There aren’t enough of them, these days, so Otomedius‘ presence is welcome. However, the game certainly isn’t going to blow anyone away with its visuals. Even worse, the game suffered serious slowdown at the show and with only a month until release, I have my doubts that the final version will perform much better.

The game controls like a classic Gradius title. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the various power-ups, but most of them perform as you expect. Overall, I felt they were hit and miss. Some you couldn’t spam and restricted you to a recharge time – not something I want to deal with in my shmups. The speed boost felt unwieldy, like someone cranked the thumbstick sensitivity to max. The quality of a shmup is dependent on smooth controls and frame-rate, so I’m worried about how Otomedius will turn out in retail form.

The demo only contained the first stage which was a breeze on expert. It’s worth pointing out that I am a shmup-graduate – I got my degree after two weeks at my local community college! — so newbies might have more difficulty wiht it. Konami shooters are known for raising the stakes, stage-by-stage, so Otomedius Excellent will probably get to be pretty tough by the time you reach the final, eighth stage. If not, there is still an unlockable, higher difficulty.

If you are a fan of Gradius-style shmups and don’t mind weird, anime girls filling up your screen, Otomedius Excellent is worth looking into. The Xbox 360 exclusive will come out July 19 in North America. A special addition will also be available, which will contain a soundtrack, 64-page artbook and…a pillow with a half-naked, pirate-cat lady on it?


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