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Review By: Jared Black
Developer:   Taito
Publisher:   Working Designs
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Shooter
ESRB:   Teen
Date Posted:   12-16-00

With the advent of gaming systems capable of producing stunning 3D graphics, many pundits predicted the end of many classic 2D gaming genres. Despite these dire predictions most 2D genres have continued to survive and even thrive (such as the 2D platformer with games like Tomba! and Castlevania: SOTN). A few genres have been hurt by the endless march of technology, and perhaps no genre has been hurt by this more than the 2D shooter. There has been a noticeable drop-off in the quantity and quality of 2D shooters in the 32/64-bit age, and only a few hardcore shooter companies continue to carry the 2D torch.

Luckily one of those few companies still carrying that torch is Taito (and through their translations Working Designs), a company that brings with it a long history of quality shooters. RayCrisis: Termination Series is the latest in their long line of "Ray" games, and it too is a beacon of hope for those few poor 2D shooting fans still left.

RayCrisis features Taito's classic lock-on gameplay. After choosing your ship and the levels you'll play through (you have a standard opening level but then you pick 3 out of 5 other levels to play) you're thrust directly into the action. Like almost every other shooter of this type the screen scrolls forward automatically so you can concentrate solely on shooting, and where your ship shoots is represented by a targeting cursor. As you pass that cursor over a ship or other enemy, your cursor will lock onto that enemy. The more enemies you lock onto before unleashing your homing weapon (which differs for each of the three different ships) to strike all locked-on enemies, the higher your score will rise. You also have a standard weapon in addition to your homing weapon, which will simply shoot to whatever position the targeting cursor is at and won't hit things located above or below your altitude. Every 2D shooter also requires a super-powerful-wipe -the-screen-in-one-shot weapon and various power-ups to acquire within each level, and those of course are included and well implemented.

The one essential element of any 2D shooter is of course fast and furious gameplay, and RayCrisis certainly delivers that. Wave after wave of enemy ships will constantly fill the screen (with absolutely no slow down) and only the quickest of trigger fingers will be able to keep up with them. Tied into this is really the core of RayCrisis' gameplay - the encroachment rate. As Working Designs' classic humor informs you in the instruction booklet, the encroachment rate measures how much you suck. As more and more enemies get past you, your encroachment rate will slowly rise closer to 100%. This, in turn, will cause each level to be shorter and thus your score will be lower. Only by keeping your encroachment rate down will you be able to earn the highest scores and see the best ending in the game, and the only way to do that is to blow up everything in sight.

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