The Sega Mega Drive (AKA Genesis) was my console of choice growing up. Over the years I have comfortably played well over 100 games on it and possess an extensive knowledge of its library. Despite this, I have to admit I hadn’t even heard of ‘Assault Suit Leynos’ which is a new PS4 release and HD remake of a Mega Drive space shooter. I can forgive myself for overlooking the original as I believe it was never released in Europe. Instead it was a bit of a hit in Japan and also received an American release under the title of ‘Target Earth’.
You play as the pilot of a mech. After aliens start attacking your base of operations, you decide to take the war to them. Over eight varied stages you and your team will travel over land and sky in some arcade style shooting action.
When starting you have a choice of playing either the Arcade mode (this is the default mode available from the main menu) or the Classic mode which is available in the option screen. The arcade mode is the new, revamped version of Assault Suit Leynos with brand new graphics, sound, control scheme, reimagined stages and some all new content such as bosses and sequences that were never included in the original. The classic mode is based a lot closer to the original Mega Drive game, however it isn’t actually the original itself. Classic mode reinvents the original game’s stages, bosses and enemy placement as accurately as possible, however it still runs on the new engine with all of the Arcade mode’s assets.
The mech you control operates in two different modes which switch automatically depending on the scenario you’re in at the time. In land mode the game operates a bit like a run and gun such as Metal Slug or Midnight Resistance. In sky mode the game play is similar to that of a shoot ‘em up like Air Buster or even Fantasy Zone in the free scrolling segments.
Each of the eight stages has some form of unique objective or gimmick which helps to keep the game fresh throughout. Some of these objectives include defending allies, battling against a time limit, navigating through dark areas with a torch, requiring a certain number of kills to proceed etc. The stages themselves are all quite diverse aesthetically but they all boil down to shooting and destroying several smaller enemies and larger alien vehicles like air ships and tanks.
Before you begin a stage you will be able to choose your weapons and equipment. You have six available slots where you can assign different weapons (machine guns, rocket launchers etc.), armor, shields and a jet pack for extra lift while jumping. When you start from the beginning you do not have too much choice available when it comes to equipment, however completing secondary objectives and achieving high ranks in the stages will unlock a wider range of technology to choose from.
I have mixed opinions when it comes to the controls. Some of the elements I like include the ability to aim in all directions with your left analogue stick, holding down a shoulder button to lock the position you’re aiming in place, and if you’re holding down the fire button you can run backwards as well as forwards and remain shooting in the same direction. These are all really intuitive and make for some fantastic action, however I feel there could have been some improvements. For a start I think an option for twin stick controls so you could move freely with the L stick and fire in any direction with the R stick would have been a welcomed addition. Also, the mech does feel and little clunky. When you begin moving it takes a split second for the mech to accelerate which was probably a deliberate choice to make the movement feel more mechanical, however I would have preferred this game a little more if the movement was a bit sharper and quicker to respond.
Assault Suit Leynos is quite challenging, although you do get unlimited continues and can save your progress after each stage (you also have the option to replay previous stages in order to try and improve your previous rankings). As a result the only thing stopping you from beating this game is your own perseverance.
When I first started playing I was dying repeatedly and constantly. However, this was mainly due to my lack of knowledge as to how the health system works. Unlike a lot of classic console games where you need to locate power ups in order to regain health, ASL was actually ahead of its time as it includes a system of regenerating health. By retreating when the action gets too heated you can regain health naturally by avoiding getting hit for a short period. This creates a scenario where it’s important to exercise restraint and not jump head first into ambushes. Instead by approaching enemies with caution and retreating when you’re taking a beating you should be able to sustain a lot of punishment.
The graphics are pretty nice. They consist of nicely drawn high-definition sprites for the robots and terrain, mixed with some flashy particle effects for the projectiles and explosions. This mix of graphic styles creates some lovely visuals and stunning effects. It’s not the best looking shooter by any stretch but it looks decent enough.
The music consists of modern synthesized renderings of the original Mega Drive tunes. Although they certainly weren’t bad there wasn’t anything particularly catchy or memorable about them. It’s functional enough as far as music goes but it wasn’t anything majorly special.
Overall ‘Assault Suit Leynos’ is a solid little title and a fun way to kill an hour or two. I was torn between giving this game a 6 or 7 as it’s a decent game while not being particularly amazing. In the end I decided to give it a 6 since I feel it is a bit expensive for what it’s worth. If it was priced around the £8 – £10 mark then I’d feel a bit more confident recommending it, however it’s currently priced at £19.99 in the UK and physical editions available in other regions seem it be a lot more. Although I don’t really have anything negative to say about this title, I do feel as if it’s overpriced for how much content is here.
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