Please continue making old…

Please continue making old shooters easier ⊟

I’ve been, um, recently writing regularly regarding remakes of rare shooting games, and they all have had something to offer. Cotton Reboot offered modern style and sensibility to a classic game (along with a port of the classic itself), Zombie Nation offered, at the most basic level, the first wide availability of a very weird and notable game.

Ratalaika’s port of the Mega Drive game Gleylancer exemplifies my favorite aspect of these rereleases: I can cheese the heck out of it.

1992 JC would have dug Gleylancer, but I didn’t have the bucks back then to import a Mega Drive game from the Chips & Bits catalog. Basically, it’s a side-scrolling shooter with “option” style ships that fly around with you, like Gradius. Except you can pick up powerups to change the options’ weapons in seven different ways, like 5-way or Laser.

More importantly, you can choose how the options behave. A setting available at the start of the game allows you to choose whether they shoot behind you, in front of you, whether they circle you, etc. In itself, this is a very cool customization, but the modern port totally one-ups it by letting you aim the options’ shots yourself with the right analog stick, effectively making a twin-stick shooter out of it.

I’m sure this wrecks the initial balance of the game, by making it much, much easier to aim a barrage of multiple guns at enemies, but… good. 1992 JC would only have enjoyed a game like this for a rental period, having barely cleared the first stage. Here in the beautiful perfect future (let’s pretend for a minute) I can hold my own against a game designed to punish me. And what was originally a very well-designed feature for its time is now even better. I’m sure if controllers had dual analog back then, Gleylancer would have supported it.

Furthermore, like many retro ports, I have immediate access to a rewind button. If I wanted to, I could ignore that button and enjoy the difficulty of the game as designed. But I don’t want to. I want to cheese my way through the game, no matter what it says about my character. I find it tremendously satisfying to be able to get through a game I never would have had a chance to finish.

And these features aren’t just for people like me who are just regular bad at action games. Features like rewind and save states offer crucial accessibility to more people who might never have been able to enjoy a game like this before. And all the accessibility and difficulty modifications are totally optional, and can be ignored at will by people who don’t need or want them.

Next week, Ratalaika will publish a port of Gynoug, originally released here as Wings of Wor, and I look forward to being able to play it for more than 15 agonizing minutes at a time!


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Bender Bending Rodríguez
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