-Natsume / Hudson Entertainment
The planet is under attack from the armies of the giant evil space face. His army has set up shop in a few factories and are building themselves up in order to easily conquer the planet. Only one squad can destroy the face and save the planet: Omega Five. Omega Five is made of the best floating fighters around; the tough, take-no-prisoners chick Ruby, the four-armed angry alien Tempest, the android R.A.D. and the old space samurai Sensei and his loyal dog Rikimaru.
Omega Five is yet another omni-directional shooter in this time of the omni-directional resurrection. The difference with Omega Five compared to all the others that have been released on Xbox Live Arcade, is that itís more in line with shooters like Forgotten Worlds. Youíre a character that is inexplicably able to fly in the air and even space. While the game is short, it's good. I just wish I knew what, or who, the "Omega Five" really is.
Iím not sure what Omega Five refers to. Is the group of heavily armed floating heroes called Omega Five? There are only four of them, though. Unless they count the dog. Yeah, thereís a dog, but more on that later. Is the planet youíre saving called Omega Five? If so, what happened to Omega planets one thru four? Were they all blown up by the evil space faceís super balls? Maybe Omega Five is the name of the evil dude that is terrorizing the planet with his meteors and giant balls. See, this is what happens when there is absolutely no story given to the shooting action. We have to guess at what the heck is going on. Just one little paragraph would have helped a lot.
There is a total of four characters to choose from, each with their own weapons. Two are available at the outset while the other two become unlocked later. Each character can use an A, B, or C type weapon, and some sort of secondary weapon, so there is enough variety in how each of the characters fight.
The first character is Ruby. Sheís a tough chick that might be Russian that speaks Japanese. Ruby's weapons are a Vulcan cannon, a handy reflective laser that bounces off surfaces, and a lightning gun. Her secondary weapon is a grappling hook thing that attaches to an enemy to do extra damage. It comes in very handy with mini-bosses and bosses. When the satellite is connected, Ruby also automatically fires on its position, eliminating the enemy in a short amount of time.
Tempest is the big four-armed alien guy, although, he only uses one of his hands to hold his big hose gun. The others just dangle rather uselessly. I think when you have four arms and youíre only using one of them, you should be doing something with the others. At least point at the enemies youíre blasting. Tempestís weapons seem a little weaker than the rest of the characters, but they are more unique as far as shooters go. Unlike the others, his main weapons all have secondary attacks. He has a volcanic flamethrower that can shoot straight or lock onto enemies and even curve around corners. His B weapon is supposed to be corrosive acid, but it looks more like water or a spooge cannon. The acid can be switched from narrow stream to wide spray. His C type is molten metal that fires slowly with an alternate attack that damages all enemies on the screen. This big blast is where is also moves his other arms. Perhaps to make up for his weaker guns, Tempest also has an active shield. Once an enemy shot slows and changes green in color, you release the right analog stick for a split second and the shot flies into other enemies.
The third character is Sensei, who is an old space samurai riding on a sled with a pet dog. Sensei seems to be in the game more for some comical antics, and Iím sure his story would reflect that, if there was a story. He slices his space katana in any direction. His sword strikes are the most powerful weapon in the game, destroy enemy shots, and go through walls. Senseiís secondary weapon is his dog Rikimaru. The dog leaps onto an enemy which locks on Senseiís bomb, knife, or shuriken attack, depending on if heís using A, B, or C type.
The fourth character is R.A.D. She seems like she would be a cyborg, or some kind of robot girl., or a girl robot. She has a pretty cool look, but her weapons are exactly the same as Ruby. Her grappling satellite is different in that she can shoot at other enemies while the satellite causes damage to whatever itís connected to.
Weapon power-ups are obtained by shooting mysterious floating pods that contain an A, B, or C weapon icon. These can be collected a few times for maximum blasting power. Since weapons are stored in pods then every enemy drops pink triangles. These triangles are collected to make little shield buddies that rotate around the character. They are also bombs that help out when too many enemies are on the screen.
The graphics are pretty rockiní. The developers really took care in making sure everything looked great. Omega Five is easily the best looking of all the person-somehow-floating-in-space style shooters. The stages are very colorful with detailed backgrounds and enemies. Some of the weapon effects look especially nice, being very bright and standing out against everything that is happening on screen. The music is good too. It fits the game and has a bit of a retro feel to it.
Unfortunately, with the good character design and beautiful graphics the game was bound to have its shortcomings. Itís not the lack of story that make the game feel incomplete, but that there are only four stages. Most shooters have always had at least five to six stages. With only four stages it feels like the game ends too early. At least each of the stages is a little longer than typical shooter stages and they vary greatly in their appearance and scenery. Stage one, titled The Glacial Fortress, has lots of snow and a super cool robot walker mini-boss. The boss is four smaller ships fighting together in synchronized formations. Stage two, The Escalated Invasion, takes place in a swamp-like setting with a flying centipede-like creature that other smaller creatures fly off of and a ship that kind of looks like a creepy alien face. The third stage is The Place to Rebirth. It seems like an enemy ship factory with a tricky boss that rotates and tries to cut you with its giant saws. Stage four is The Warrior Factory and the main base with the evil space face awaiting at the end. Ok, I guess having two factory-like stages isn't a huge variety, but each one is different enough from the other.
Besides the two characters are some other nifty unlockables to work for. One is that you can change the menu system voice. Itís a male voice by default, but you can change it to a female voice. It may not seem like much, but a change in the system voice is a neat little extra, especially when the robots take over the world. You wouldnít want all your robot masters to have the same voice would you? Each of the voices is also delightfully ďEngrish.Ē Another cool unlockable is Retro Mode. The HD visuals become pixilated PlayStation One quality. Itís a cool feature and makes the game a little more difficult since things are slightly harder to see. You also unlock Arcade Mode++ where itís one hit and youíre dead. Challenge Mode and Challenge Mode++ make you earn as many points as possible before you die.
Omega Five uses a more-you-shoot-the-more-points-you-get scoring system so keep blasting away and your score multiplier will increase, thereby granting you more points per enemy shot down. Most everything can be overcome by memorization and learning the intricacies of each character weapons. Some weapons will work a little better against certain enemies or other situations. The game does not have an adjustable difficulty and enemies are loaded on you right from the start.
The achievements are doable. You mainly have to beat the game without dying, which is obtainable since the characters have a life bar and there are some heath recovery items. The other achievements deal with activities (or non-activities) using character specific weapons. However, the achievement of deflecting 20 shots with Tempestís shield seems rather tricky to get. I think you may actually have to repel 20 at the same time, not just 20 total. If it were 20 total I would have gotten the achievement right away.
One other cool little feature of the game are snapshots of your gameplay. Once you beat the boss of each stage you are treated to some shots of your actions in the stage, with the last one being your killing strike of the boss. One you beat the entire game a slideshow of sorts of your battles throughout the entire game scrolls during the credits. Itís a cool little bonus to get to relive your shooter greatness.
There are some original little ideas in Omega Five, but it really needed at least one extra stage because it doesnít really feel like a complete game. An ounce of a story would have helped, too. I really like the R.A.D. Master achievement name. In what other game can you be called a Rad Master? Here's hoping Natsume and Hudson make an even better sequel.