Triangle Service’s EXZEAL is a space shooter where you choose from various ships and select a particular weapon system. The game has different weapon systems to choose from, two player local co-op multiplayer, addictive shooting and an upbeat soundtrack. The game is one part of the Shooting Love 20XX series on Steam and features more action packed shooting from an overhead perspective. The game is fairly simple with 2D top-down shooting that sees you fighting through lots of enemy spacecraft’s.
You start by choosing your ship, which are referred to as UNIT 1 to 4. Each unit has its own weapon system, with all ships having the standard base gun. Unit-1 has a charge shot, which gathers a much larger point total from ships that are further away from you, its important to be aware though that it takes time to charge up. The controls are easy enough and using a keyboard I used the arrow keys to move my ship and Z, X and C to use the various methods of attack. You can also pause the game using S, which comes in handy if you need to take a second.
Unit-2 has a charge shot, but shoots in a different way, with a five-way directional output. This does charge faster than Unit-1’s charge shot but its still important to keep it in mind. The third class, UNIT-3, has a shot gun style weapon, with close quarter combat that racks up quick score combos. I really enjoyed playing with this class as it quickly wipes out lots of nearby enemies, but I still like playing with all classes. UNIT-4 has guns that fire left, right and backward shots, but only when you move in that direction. This is an interesting idea but not one I tended to go for. You can also switch units when you die, which is very helpful as it means you can try out different weapons and select which is right for that particular segment of the game.
The game is divided up into multiple stages, ending with a larger boss battle. There is no story and the structure of the stages is very predictable and I would have liked to of seen things mixed up a bit to keep you on your toes. That being said the shooting feels great and the gameplay is very addictive. The enemy ships you encounter are varied and have different attack patterns and styles, which keeps things interesting and can get incredibly challenging later in the game. There are small, fast moving ships, large blocks to blast through and circular discs with a specific weak point to focus on.
Enemy spaceships are the main threat in the game but there are also lots of moving obstacles to also contend with during each stage. One particular segment sees you flying towards a wall of red and brown crates and you have to shoot some to destroy and some simply move. That’s tough enough as it is, so throw in some enemies firing at you and it can quickly become a tricky situation. In general, the gameplay is very fun but it can start to feel a little repetitive as you progress.
The enemies look decent enough, with polygonal designs but the backgrounds do look at little flat and mundane compared. The backgrounds still look ok but I would have liked to of seen some variation in locations and different styles of environments. EXZEAL’s soundtrack is impressive, with upbeat music that adds to the tension and overall tempo. The music is catchy and memorable and suited the arcade style gameplay very well. The sound effects are also well done, with awesome sounding weapons that also fit the overall design of the game. This is very much an arcade game, which in my opinion is great as I love jumping into a game like this, which feels enjoyable and very accessible. Another point worth mentioning is that the area you play in is surrounded by the original cabinet of the arcade classic, which is a nice touch. The game is almost ten years old and sure it looks outdated, but for me the gameplay is what matters most and in general its highly addictive and fun to play. The game runs great, with a consistent framerate and smooth movement. The game also has local 2-player co-op which is another awesome feature that’s perfect for this kind of game.
Overall EXZEAL is a challenging space shooter that has responsive controls, is fun to play and has local co-op multiplayer. The game looks dated and may not pack the punch of modern shooters but its still very enjoyable. Being able to choose from four different types of ship with different weapons keeps things interesting and the enemies you face are increasingly difficult. The game has a good mix of clever level design, varied enemies and addictive shooting that’s worth giving a go and I would certainly recommend it if you like arcade shooters or games like Steredenn or Super Galaxy Squadron EX.
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