Gekioh: Shooting King

-Natsume (2002)




The Story

The Shooting King is coming for a visit. He wants to fight the best pilots your world has to offer, but only if they can get through his hordes of henchmen and robots. Few pilots have survived his crew of monstrous machines and even less have faced off with the great Shooting King himself. You, being one of the best pilots on this planet, will take on his army and bring an end to his insane quest. Otherwise he will destroy our world with his big-ass beam cannon.

My Thoughts

Shooters arenít dead yet. Theyíre just dying off very slowly as a handful of somewhat older games are released at budget prices. Gekioh was originally released in 1999 in Japan and found its way into the PS Oneís line-up of $10 budget games, courtesy of Natsume. 

Gekioh is essentially your basic, but good, space shooter. You destroy a multitude of enemy ships, hover tanks, mechs, and a mix of nice looking bosses. The boss of stage six has a unique attack that kind of smears the look of everything thatís moving, producing a cool-looking effect on-screen. The music is some good shooter fare. There are familiar power-ups of spread Vulcan, lightning, and missiles that shoot straight-on and homing at the same time. Of course there are also the speed ups and the point icons.

What sets Gekioh apart from similar shooters are the six bonus modes. These modes are some of the most unusual and unique ways to play the same game, but some of them make it feel very different. You donít need to beat the game to unlock them either; theyíre available right from the start. Below is a description of the bonus modes.

Pocket Mode: Ever play the PocketStation, the Playstationís first failed attempt at a micro portable gaming device? Most likely you have not as it never officially made it to the States. In Pocket Mode you are essentially playing a PocketStation on your TV. The graphics consist of little dots connected together to resemble spaceships. The enemies total four different ships and one boss type. Each stage is pretty much the same with the ships following the same pattern, but shooting more and flying faster as you get to higher stages. Everything may be very limited but itís a fun diversion.

Comical Mode: This is just like the regular game except for the carnival music and the laugh track. Every time you destroy an enemy, the laugh track plays, increasing in volume and laughter the more enemies you destroy at a time. Some of the sounds that are given to enemies weapons are pretty funny and made me have to pause just so I could stop laughing. This is certainly a unique take on the shooter, but one of the individual laughs was a little over-used.

Stingy Mode: You have no power-ups, one bomb, and one life. There are only two stages and every enemy you destroy grants you one point, no matter their size. This mode makes you realize how important those power-ups really are.

No Mercy Mode: This is quite possibly the hardest game mode ever devised for a shooter, or any game for that matter. The enemies fire at you faster than you have seen in any game ever. You have to be constantly moving to really hope to stand a chance, but most of the time youíll end up flying right into another barrage of enemy fire. If youíre masochistic and hate yourself then go for it. Iím sure you wonít be able to pass stage one.

Slow Mode: ďThis is the fave rave with Goth and industrial rock fans,Ē says the instruction manual. Similar in respect to Comical Mode, this features gothic horror music and screams of agony and death when you brutally destroy enemies. The graphics are a couple shades darker and the game is in a constant state of slow-down. Itís not bad though, the game plays like itís in slow motion, making it much easier to weave through enemy shots. Of course the developers knew the game would be too easy so they increased the firepower of all the enemies, giving you much more to dodge than before. The music for the bosses is some good industrial stuff, and your weapons make different sounds. There was one scream that got irritating just because it was over-played. The aliens seem to employ hordes of young school girls because most of the bigger ships have that scream. Something that wouldíve been cool is if the ships exploded in a shower of blood than regular old explosions.

Ancient Mode: This is the regular game except everything is in sepia tone. You wonít know what power-ups you get until you collect them. Cracks appear on the film as you play and a constant tracking line goes down the screen. The mono phonograph speaker cackles and hisses as the music fades in and out. Sometimes the enemy shots are hard to see because of the monotone color of the screen and you often wonít see the shot that kills you. It really feels like youíre watching an old time film of futuristic space battles.

Gekioh isnít terribly difficult until you reach the final boss who is one bad mutha. Before you face off with the big man himself you fight a boss that escaped during a previous battle. However, like the Joker killing Bob the Goon in Batman, the Shooting King takes out his number one guy with one of the biggest beam cannons youíve ever seen. Itís a nifty moment in the game and the other boss has a sweet looking death. 

This is a good overhead shooter that earns a higher score because of the great originality of its bonus modes. Gekioh lives up to its name as a Shooting King.        

Score: 8.0    


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