I'm a fan of shmups, though I was a much bigger fan of them like a decade ago. For whatever reason, I had never played Axelay, though. I mean I'd heard of it, sure. But I never checked it out. So over the weekend, I downloaded it through the Wii U's Virtual Console, which - I just want to once again sing the praises of the Wii U as an unfairly maligned console. But where else can you buy Axelay on a whim?
Anyway, I did a little research that threw up some red flags for me. It appears that Axelay was developed by a team at Konami who went on to form Treasure. Uh oh. Look, I know that Treasure has its rabid followers. But my experience with Treasure games is almost always the same. I tend to find their games visually pleasing, and beyond impressive for what they were able to pull off on the hardware; but I tend to always find the gimmicks a little tough to wrap my head around, and the games never seem to hold my interest.
But I HAD to check out Axelay. It's kind of looked back at as this SNES shmup classic. So here we are. Now let's go through the list...
Visually Pleasing - check. I mean certainly a bit dated, but all the Mode 7 stuff and the shifting of perspective and the giant sprites. It looks good.
Beyond Impressive For What They Were Able To Pull Off On The Hardware - check. Again, as I just said, there's all kinds of funky tricks with the changing perspective and everything. It's good stuff.
Gimmicks A Little Tough To Wrap My Head Around - check. So you start each level picking which three weapons you'll equip. And you swap between them on the fly. Take a hit and you lose that weapon. Run out of weapons and you're dead. So I guess the gimmick is knowing which weapons to use where, and then there's the risk/reward of NOT losing them so you have them when you need them. It's just... maybe I'm a simple man, but I like simple weapon load-outs and a one-hit death, I guess. I don't want to be constantly switching between weapons to handle each new wave of enemies. This is the kind of thing that frustrated me in Ikaruga.
The Games Never Seem To Hold My Interest - check. I did three runs and quickly tired of Axelay. Oh well. I tried.