-O3 Entertainment (2003)
-Also on Dreamcast
Mankind had discovered a chaotic dimension know as the chaos field. With it came the Abo, a mysterious race bent on the destruction of all humans. The raged on and eventually engulfed the order Field, the normal space-time dimension. Two adept teenagers and a crazy man have been chosen to bring an end to this multi-dimensional conflict.
Hal has been bred as a pilot since the day he was born and is a usually emotionless husk of 15-year-old. Ifumi, 19, has been looking after Hal since he was young and has faith that they can defeat the Abo. Not much is known about the thirty-something Jinn. Many think he was built in a laboratory from organic material from the Abo.
Boss fights are usually the stand-out points in a shooter or any game for that matter. So why not create a shooter of only boss fights? That is what Chaos Field is. There are five stages, each with three bosses for a total of fifteen consecutive boss fights. It could seem a bit cheap to some to not have regular enemies, but each boss is a tough fight and Chaos Field has some unique gameplay mechanics that can dramatically change the game.
Chaos Field employs a little more strategy than your average shooter. Much of it comes from the three characters you choose from at the start. Each with their own fighter ship and while the ships are similar, they are also very different. Halís ship has normal forward shooting weapons, a bubble shield that stays stationary where you launch it, and an excellent, wide lock-on attack. Ifumiís guns are red lasers that attach to bossesí weak points. Her lock-on attack is rather lacking and only has a confined circular range while her shield rotates around the ship. Jinnís ship has some weird burst lightning shots that have limited range. His lock-on attack is good, but his shield shoots out a bunch of little circular shields that place themselves at random spots on the screen. If you want a bigger challenge then play as Jinn because, quite frankly, his ship sucks.
Each ship is equipped with two energy swords. The swords can take out most enemy shots, except for purple arrows and piercing blue homing lasers. You can hit the sword button for the ship to swing its left sword, again for the right, and a third time in a row to swing both swords. Itís sort of a like a small three hit combo in a fighting game. Sometimes you will be so overwhelmed with enemy shots that all you can do is slash your swords to survive. You can also get right up to a boss and and attack it with the swords, but is very dangerous because doing so puts your ship right in the source of the line of fire.
Chaos Field also introduces an original game mechanic where you can switch between play fields. The order field is the normal shooter game. If you switch to the chaos field, your shipís attacks will be powered-up and deal out more damage than normal. However, the boss attacks will also be much greater, faster, have less attacks you can deflect, or a combination of all of them. Many of the bosses are more difficult to defeat unscathed, but I found that most of the actual stage bosses seemed to be easier to take out.
The chaos field mechanic adds an extra bit of strategy to the usual shooter formula. You can develop your own strategies on when to switch fields to take out big bosses. Your ship needs a few seconds to recharge, so if you find that the chaos field is too much too handle, you better pray that you can survive the onslaught until your ship recharges. The impact point on the player's ship is right in the middle, giving you a chance to weave in and out of the enemies' relentless onslaughts.
For the uninitiated, the Japanese version of the GameCube port of Chaos Field is called Chaos Field Expanded. You see, the first Chaos Field was on the Dreamcast. When it was ported to the 'Cube the Expanded was added to the title because an additional mode was added. This mode is original mode, which adds a few regular enemy ships in the stages. You only fight them in one section of each stage, not between every boss like you might expect. The bosses also have different attack styles in this mode. Tactics you may have used against them in arcade mode wonít necessarily work in original mode, so be prepared to have to refigure out how to win.
The visuals donít really take advantage of the GameCubeís graphical capabilities. This game was originally on the Dreamcast and it shows. Actually there are better looking games on the Dreamcast. Everything has that textured look with muted and bland colors. Itís no fault of O3 Entertainment, because they just translated the game for the ĎCube and I am very thankful to them for doing so. We need more shooters, whatever it takes. The sound effects are also pretty cookie-cutter. Youíve probably heard many of these sounds before in other shooters. If you can look past the rough graphics and generic effects then youíll find an engaging shooter.
The music on the other hand, is absolutely fantastic. Each stage is accompanied by a great trance/dance track. As you play, the music progresses and changes so youíre not stuck listening to the same loop over and over. Original mode also contains some nifty remixed music.
On a side note, why does the manual need seven pages for notes? I have never used even one page in any instruction manual for notes, so I canít even fathom how one could fill up seven pages. What kind of notes would you even write for this game? I doubt anyone will play it enough to fill it with their high scores and you just remember how to fight a boss, you donít need to write it down.
If you can look past the graphics and don't mind a lack of regular enemies, Chaos Field is an engaging and fun shooter to hold you over for a little while.