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Neo XYX Review

NG:Dev.Team return with their fourth game and 2nd vertically scrolling shoot-em-up entitled Neo XYX (pronounced Neo Zaikusu). Despite being similar in scope to their previous vertical shmup Fast Striker, Neo XYX differs in its art style which returns to the hand-drawn artwork the company have successfully used in games like Last Hope and Gunlord.

This also marks the first time NG:Dev.Team have made a vertical shmup with a portrait screen resolution as opposed to Fast Sriker’s horizontal resolution. Along with the vertical resolution, Neo XYX offers a selection of screen orientations to fit your play style. The game defaults to a horizontal mode with changes the controls to suit that of a horizontal shmup. Unfortunately, horizontal mode makes it clear that the game was designed specifically for a vertical resolution and it becomes fairly disorientating to play. Other resolution options are the original Neo Geo resolution, an adjustable equivalent complete with an optional smoothing filter (which surprisingly looks very nice in action) and a true portrait display that requires you to turn your monitor on its side. NG:Dev.Team have truly gone out of their way to offer every resolution they can to the myriad of different shmup players out there.

Enough talk of presentation; what about the game? Neo XYX probably as the simplest control setup of any NG:Dev.Team shmup. One button to fire and one button for bombs. The right trigger can be held down to enable a more powerful standard shot at the expense of some flight speed. This control setup is extremely similar to that of Cave shmups such as the DoDonPachi and Mushihimesama series.

Speaking of Cave, this definitely seems to be where NG:Dev.Team are sourcing their inspiration for Neo XYX. Gameplay is remarkably similar to some of Cave’s recent output with the action being fast and abundant with enemy bullets. Neo XYX isn’t quite bullet hell material but it can come incredibly close in some of the more hectic sections of the game.

The real gameplay highlight comes in the form of the bosses which are often segmented and look fantastic in motion. The strange, rippling movement of each of the individual parts is a sight to behold and a true testament to how incredible 2D game art can look in the right hands. Another great little effect is how the bosses and some of the larger enemies take damage. Instead of the industry standard of using different models for different stages of enemy damage, sections of the enemies are blown off as you do more damage until you reveal the nasty innards of whatever giant contraption is attacking you.

So far so good, but what’s that strange feeling that’s washing over me? Is it the dreaded familiarity? Neo XYX’s biggest problem is how it isn’t really doing much that a hundred other shmups haven’t already done. There are no new gameplay mechanics to play with, no interesting stage gimmicks and no other play modes outside the standard arcade mode. There isn’t even adjustable difficulty settings so if the standard mode of play doesn’t suit you then you’re in for an enormous let-down. This is not to say that what is on offer isn’t well executed. Neo XYX is a fine shmup in its own right, it’s just that NG:Dev.Team are asking for £28 for the standard version of the game and it’s offering nothing that Mushihimesama Bug Panic hasn’t already done and you can get that on iOS for £5. I hate to bring up the issue of price and longevity in a review for a shmup, but can NG:Dev.Team really justify that price-point simply because the game is on a disc and available to play on a Dreamcast?

Neo XYX is definitely a competent, tight and enjoyable shmup that fans of the genre will get great enjoyment from. It looks great, sounds great (thanks to Rafael Dyll’s catchy electronica soundtrack) and caters for a vast range of play-styles thanks to its widely customisable resolution. However, casual fans will have a hard time finding the effort to stick with it and there simply isn’t enough game to justify it being priced the same as a lot of current generation games. What hurts even more is that existing NG:Dev.Team games like Fast Striker already offer multiple modes of play and include a more unique control setup. Neo XYX comes across as a solid game but not a particularly original one.

7/10

Written by Sonic Yoda on 11/03/2014

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