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Not-so Quiet Reflection: Nyu Media on SITER SKAIN’s Magnum Opus

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RefleX 2012-12-17 15-01-31-48

Hello, everybody! My name is Matias Puyol (aka AlphaProspector) and I’m Nyu Media’s Marketing Editorial Consultant & resident STG (shooting game) aficionado. I’m guest spotting to write a word or two about the rather nice shooting game RefleX that Nyu Media just released as part of the Tale of ALLTYNEX trilogy by the Japanese indie developer SITER SKAIN.

 

RefleX is the middle chapter title of the ALLTYNEX trilogy and released nine(!) years after the first release in the series, KAMUI, due to a slow and problematic development cycle. The length and problems of the development process were certainly not for naught, however, as RefleX is hailed by many to be standout title of the series. (Many other people including myself would say it’s KAMUI and others that it’s ALLTYNEX Second, but that just shows the level of quality of the trilogy as a whole!)

 

RefleX showcases the unadulterated passion and devotion that SITER SKAIN has for their art and for the STG genre. It also takes 2D vertical scrolling action to new levels of grandiosity by employing all sorts of dynamic scrolling effects and creative enemy placement that are a delight to witness. From bosses that come soaring in from the background, armed with a plethora of guns, bombs, and destructible parts, to a battle at the moon against a form-shifting foe, to taking on two bosses simultaneously, RefleX certainly is action-packed.

 

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Mechanics-wise, RefleX is straightforward, but none the less rewarding for it. The developers focused on offering a more dramatic experience by crafting creative ways of using the characteristic feature of the game: the Shield Shot System (S.S.S.), which the player can use to absorb energy-based attacks and reflect certain bullets and lasers back at enemies. You are, however, vulnerable to missiles and other melee attacks… and you’ll see a lot of them too. Enemies destroyed by the reflected attacks provide a multiplier which will increase up to 64x with continued destruction. This will trigger a chain bar on the upper right corner of the screen. If you keep blasting things, you can keep this chain of multipliers. Once the chain bar runs out, the multiplier is reset. The strategy is, then, to find good spots to reflect bullets and lasers, seek out 64x multipliers and try to keep an active chain. Easier said than done, of course!

 

To aid newcomers to the genre, the ship incorporates a durability system that lets you sustain 6 hits before getting a Game Over. This durability is replenished a couple of times through the main campaign to improve the player’s chances of survival. (Of course the last two stages are challenging as hell for reasons that shouldn’t be spoiled!) At game over, you are awarded a continue which is added to the total number of continues available for use increases, so the more you play, the more continues you’ll have at your disposal – perfect for STG neophytes to grind their way through the game!

 

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RefleX has, without a doubt, the most complex, nuanced and engrossing story of the three games in the trilogy, and arguably for the entire STG genre. There are many important details and nuances to the story, but an overview goes like this: following the events of ALLTYNEX Second, a global civil war is raging between the Global United Army and the resistance organization Valkyness. A veteran of the ALLTYNEX war who is fighting with Valkyness develops the Shield Shot System (S.S.S.) reflective technology based upon ancient alien technology and installs it in a prototype fighter craft called the Phoenix. When the game opens, the carrier holding the shield-equipped fighter is attacked, built the craft escapes and from there takes on the forces of the Global Unified Army. Most games would follow a linear path from there, but the story takes a twist two halfway through the game when an alien race, the Raiwat, arrives intent on destroying humanity. From there the Global Unified Army and the shield-equipped fighters must unite to fight back against the Raiwat and their apocalyptic devices, the ZODIACs. Not to spoil the ending, but there are a couple more twists before the final scene which presents an almost Zen-like paradox and is utterly bittersweet. Understanding the story of RefleX and then seeing it unfold in the in-game developments provides another aspect of delight and appreciation for what SITER SKAIN have accomplished with this game.

 

RefleX is a game that provides excellence and enjoyment on a number of levels. Quoting some fellow shmup fans, RefleX, like KAMUI or RayForce, does in 2D what many devs now feel can only be done in 3D. That’s one of its biggest triumphs of the game and a triumph for shmups as a genre.

 

The Tale of ALLTYNEX is developed by the Japanese indie dev SITER SKAIN and localized and published by Nyu Media Limited. The games and original soundtracks are available for $7.99 each or all three games are available together for $19.99. Visit ALLTYNEX.com for more details, demos, and information on where to purchase the games.

This post is part of the Tales of ALLTYNEX series sponsored by Nyu Media.

Matias Puyol - Editorial Consultant at Nyu Media