Review: BATTLE GAREGGA (Saturn)

Background
This is a wonderful little shooter developed by Raizing for the ST-V arcade system and was ported a year later to the Japanese Saturn, distributed by Electronic Arts.

The Wayne Brothers set out to destroy weapons and vehicles they create during WW2 for a federation who approached them some months before. With skies left shattered, this evil federation plots to increase their stronghold by invading neighbouring cities, leaving the duo no choice but to honour the skills passed down to them from their late father to save their small town, who is next on the agenda!

We're putting the Saturn version through it's paces to see if it manages to retain all the manic tank blasting action of the vertically scrolling arcade hit.

You get the choice of four planes each with their own style to attribute battle. As you select an aircraft you're plunged straight into the action which can take place in hangar areas, open landscapes and even urban environments through a top-down perspective.

Graphics

On par with the likes of Radiant Silvergun these are some of the best graphics on the SS that make good use of the system's colour palette. Explosions are nice and bright while the rest of the proceedings are satisfyingly moody and grey which gives it that 1940's war feel.

One criticism of BG is that the bullets should have been rendered using lighter colours to make it evident where the arsenal is coming and going. You can forgive this little nuisance as brighter bulllets would have taken away that satisfyingly moody feel I mentioned earlier, although it may remain a nuisance for the Treasure crowd.

Gameplay

Taut, tense and terrific best describes this gameplay which is more accomplished than Radiant Silvergun. This brave remark above comes from the fact people have often expressed to me that Treasure try too hard to be a cult designer, with which I agree! - Treasure's excessively linear elements and stop~start formula can annoy the player through leaps of one extreme to another. BG excels with a far more grounded experience, concentrating on non-stop action that relies heavily on tactical formations to dodge random bullets, rather than having to negotiate set mazes mid-level (ala: Radiant Silvergun & Ikaruga) when adrenaline is running high from previous battle.
With a good assortment of power-ups and weapons to pick up along the way, you can tailor the gameplay to suit your style as you gun to victory.
Controls are the usual shmup three button combination of shoot, special attack and formation change, with eight way control provided through the d-pad, although better achieved using an arcade stick.
Sound

With excellent music and mind blowing sound-fx this really showcases the Saturn's capabilities.

Music is full of drama and sound-fx are nicely digitised to capture the feel of a manic~crowd pulling arcade shooter like BG. The fx of bullets making contact is very pleasing with those giant aircrafts flying ahead, hangar areas opening to expose enemies and an assortment of fx that never fail to dazzle.. Bravo!

Conclusion

An excellent shmup and faithful translation of an ST-V classic, losing nothing in this Saturn conversion.

Battle Garegga is a title fast becoming rare as it's quality is realised, rarely surfacing on auction sites compared to Radiant Silvergun. I have to say that you see this as much as Hyper Duel on the web, although the latter seems to fetch more when it does surface and is equally a fine game.

Hyper Duel possibly demands more as it had a lower production run as developer Techno Soft took a chance and produced it between the Thunderforce series, although it shot to underground stardom resulting in the hefty asking price that rivals the infamous RS..

Although the reason you have to sharpen your hunting skills to track down a copy of BG is because gamers tend not to part with the game, being that it is one of the finest shooters around!

No collectors cabinet is complete without this.. Truly Superb!