Under Defeat HD: Different, In More Ways Than One

By Kris . December 23, 2012 . 3:30pm

I have a conflicted relationship with Under Defeat HD. On the one hand, I find the game’s basic systems rather interesting. As a helicopter shooter, as you move from left to right, your ship will turn. Start shooting and you will lock your turning, allowing you to strafe as you fire. The game even throws an option to choose the direction your ship turns as you move. While I initially preferred Reverse (turning left while you move right and vice versa) for the way it set up attacks after evasions, I eventually settled on Normal.


When you’re not shooting, your Option Gauge is filling up. When it’s full, firing will launch an Option (think a small flying cannon) that faces whichever direction you’re facing. There are three types of Options. The Vulcan just fires a machine gun for a short while and has the shortest cooldown after launch. The Cannon is my personal favorite, which multiple heavy shots and moves around to target and destroy anything in its general vicinity. Lastly there’s Rocket, which fires a missile with a wide explosive radius… But it’s only one shot and has an incredibly long cooldown, and not shooting for that long can be incredibly dangerous. You switch between these three by shooting down a particular type of helicopter, who will drop an option powerup that’ll switch between the three types as it floats around (but for me, it was just 5000 extra points every time I grabbed Cannon).


That said, while I love the basic mechanics in theory, playing as a helicopter felt really awkward. I never quite felt like I was moving properly whether I was playing in Normal or Reverse… The helicopter felt huge, and more than once I’d killed myself by moving the tail of my helicopter into a bullet that I’d thought I’d evaded, which results in a really awkward pause where you try to figure out how exactly you were hit before your helicopter explodes. While obviously more plays helped this issue (the game rewards you with additional credits as you play through the game again and again, so it definitely encourages that practice), enough of my deaths felt random enough that I still felt inept even after I put more practice in.


Unfortunately, working against the desire to keep playing is the somewhat drab visual design. I find the game’s use of particle effects for explosions, sparks, and bullet casings very attractive. Even more so in the game’s fit-to-widescreen “New Order” mode (which also includes a remixed soundtrack, which I prefer). Sure, it can lead to a lot of slowdown when things are more chaotic, but those moments add a bit of color to what is essentially a World War II shooter.


However, maybe it’s because I’ve always been a fan of “cute-’em-ups” like Parodius and (to a certain extent) Cotton, but I didn’t feel excited to move from a forest base to a sea base to a snow base as the game progressed. I wanted to get better, sure, but the backgrounds didn’t make me want to push ahead and see what the game had in store next. It’s frustrating that the game is so pretty in its use of effects, yet so bland in its environmental design.


Under Defeat HD’s story leaves much to be desires, too. It’s a alternate-pseudo-history World War II where you play as “the Empire” in a war against the “the Union”… Which essentially makes you a Nazi winning World War II by shooting down Allied ships.


That’s not what bugs me, though, since I think that that could make for an interesting story. It’s just that Under Defeat doesn’t go anywhere with it. This is set up with a soundless intro before the game’s title screen, but aside from some German and English VA in the levels (mostly things like “emergency” and “evacuate”) there’s not a lot of story progression. At the end of each stage, instead of any sort of narrative, there are pictures of the two female pilots. This is fine, but with such an interesting background, I’d like to see a bit more than “there is a war and you’re a cute pseudo-Nazi.”


While my relationship with Under Defeat HD isn’t without its complications, I’m glad that it finally has an English release. I wanted to play it back when it came out for the Dreamcast in 2006. Even though I’m less passionate about it than I hoped I’d be, I admire that it’s trying to do something different.


Food for Thought:

Even though the game itself looks nice, the menus feel really slapdash. I’m particularly baffled by the vehicle select menu that tells you the model number of the helicopter you can use and the color, but doesn’t show you a picture or give you any description of what it does.


Want to try Under Defeat HD out for yourself?. We’re giving away ten PSN codes to download the game! All you need is a U.S. PSN account to download it. We’ll be updating this post with new codes periodically.

GIVEAWAY OVER! Congratulations to everyone who managed to grab a code!

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  • Julien_N

    About that hitbox : it is rectangular, and not circular as in most current games.
    That could explain the “random” collisions with the helicopter. In fact, you have to make good use of the rotation modes to turn your ship to dodge some of the bullets because it will make the hitbox turn on the side as well.

    • I believe that’s part of the reason for the gimmick. Rotate to dodge and wade through the bullet storm.

  • Someone got the code. The next one, please!

    • Ben Lyd

      Yeah, this lol.

  • nilcam

    I absolutely adore this game. I quickly gave up on the New Order mode because playing a vertical shmup in a horizontal field doesn’t make sense to me. But, man, is arcade addictive. I love that it’s one of those games that reward patience and practice and these are the best titles for me.

    Playing Under Defeat puts me in that same Zen-like zone as Ikaruga!

  • Bloodios


    These have already been claimed…

  • Go2hell66

    All taken

    boy i have terrible luck with these giveaways :p

  • Thank you, Siliconera for:

  • Go2hell66

    all spent omg rofl

  • I hate this “First come, first serve” method. Can’t there be another “equal opportunity” way to do this?

    • That’s what the contests are for, and we run those on occasion, but they take a lot more time and effort to put together, so they need to be planned in advance.

  • Prune Tracy

    Thank you Siliconera!


  • Bloodios


    These have already been claimed…

  • Go2hell66


  • MrSirFeatherFang

    I just realized since I’m banned I can’t get any of these codes…
    Well I am going to grab this game whenever I can… too many sales during the holidays haha

  • Devin Hudson

    Since no one else has claimed AP9R-N6NK-GGKH, I want to say I got it but it won’t let me download it. When I put in the code on the Redeem Code screen, it took me to the screen that says Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition (Product Voucher). I pressed the Continue button on the screen, and then another screen pops up talking about the Terms of Service and Health Warnings. After pressing the Confirm button on that screen, another screen pops up saying ‘An error has occurred. (80023102)’ and then my only option is to press the O button to go back. I keep repeating the process but the same thing keeps happening over and over again.

    Now I’m scared to leave the screen for fear that I might not be able to download the game. I checked my Download List online and the game is not on there, so I don’t know what will happen if I exit this screen. Generally from my experience, when you put in a code it won’t even let you get that far unless you really are the first person to put it in, so it really does seem like I should be able to get this. If someone else managed to get it then that’s completely fine, but I really hope they come forward so I know whether or not I might have lost a game that I won fair and square.

    • Someone above you just posted that they claimed it.

      • Go2hell66

        they must have claimed it a while ago, i tried that code about 20 times XD

        • Devin Hudson

          I’ve been reloading this page like crazy for a long time, so I saw the codes when they first popped up. I had just waited to post to see if someone else would claim it. Since no had I went ahead and made my post (probably about 15 minutes after the code had originally been posted), but then the person who did get it posted about a minute later.

          The exact same thing happened to me with one of these last few codes that were just posted, so I don’t know what the deal is. Most of the time when you put in a code that’s been used already a screen just pops up telling you that. I’ve never been able to get all the way to the product voucher screen and then have it tell me that an error has occurred when I try to download it.

  • Anzac

    Thanks for the gift Siliconera!

    I claimed:AP9R-N6NK-GGKH

    • Devin Hudson

      Thanks, just glad to know someone got it!

      • Anzac

        New codes are out, go go!

  • Go2hell66

    GKFA-PLNL-NMAD claimed

    yay my perseverance finally paid off
    thanks siliconera

  • Bloodios

    I have claimed the code: “6HEK-HLN3-TML4”
    Thank you so much for your generosity, SiliconEra. It was quite an intense experience, like a beastly competition between predators to claim the precious piece of tenderly fresh meat.

    • That’s… the first time I’ve seen anyone describe one of these like that. XD

      • But you must admit that it does fit the theme for this site. Given the logo, among other things…

  • Grabbed the Deluxe Edition around it coming out, haven’t played much of it yet but listened to the soundtrack.

  • Daniel Rondart

    If the reviewer is using the VKL6.02 like the screenshots are, I would recommend this: don’t.

    The game was, first and foremost designed mostly for the VKL5.03, which is much nimbler than the 6.02. Sure it lacks the zipping missiles, but it’s a fair tradeoff against 6.02’s lumbering maneuverability and what I think is a slightly larger hitbox.

    Then again, it has something to do with New Order Mode. The helicopters are designed with only three directions in Arcade Mode: forward, left, and right. Meanwhile, New Order Mode makes such that it’s a continuous, roughly 60 degrees left and right, so while it’s quite quick to turn, pressing the fire button too soon by a millisecond means you are tilting one degree less than what you want to. No, it’s not a minor thing; either you fumble readjusting your firing angle or physically maneuver your chopper to aim at the target you want, which, considering all the bullets flying your way (especially in the second cycle), is quite hazardous, to say the least.

    If the reviewer is already using the 5.03, then carry on. If the reviewer is using the 7.04…sweet mercy, that chopper is hard to use.

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