Infinos Gaiden Review
Pixel-based shmups are a dime a dozen on the Steam marketplace, but pixel-based shmups based on the Neo Geo? Those are an absolute rarity. Picorinne Soft may have captured the look of SNK’s flagship system with Infinos Gaiden, but does it play well?
Infinos Gaiden Review
Shmups aren’t known for their riveting tales…and Infinos Gaiden is no exception. Taking place after the war with the Argus Forces, the newly formed Infinos Federation comes across a dimensional wormhole that leads them to imminent danger. Sure, it’s not much to go on, and sure, it’s only told via a brief text scroll at the start of the game and a short cutscene at the end, but it gets the job done.
To get through each of the seven levels, players will pilot a spacecraft through a horizontal shoot-em-up scenescape and blast everything that moves. However, you’ve got a friend in the form of the upgradable “bit” that can shoot three different types of lasers, depending on the color you pick up. Each has a different rate of fire in a different direction, and no one has a clear advantage. Players can also change the position of their bit from in front of their ship (for added firepower), to above and below it (to have a wider attack field). It brings to mind the system found in R-Type, and though it is not exactly deep, the variety is welcome.
Those who are especially adept at the game can upgrade their bit by grabbing multiple power-ups without dying. This increases the rate of fire, and gives you an advantage against some of the bigger bosses that cap each stage. Those who lose a life will have to start back at level one, and though sometimes the bit can be recovered, this setup gives incentive to play defensively. This risk-reward system is welcome, and makes players really think of their next move.
The level design of Infinos Gaiden will take players through jungles, cities, ship armadas, space, and more. Most of the standard level motifs are here, but the detailed spritework, parallax scrolling, flickering, stretching, and rotation make everything stand out. This can sometimes work against the game, with special effects blending into the enemy fire, but it is still a sight to behold. If this title came out in the heyday of the Neo Geo, gamers would be crowding around the cabinet to get a look.
However, Infinos Gaiden also has the length of an arcade gamer. Though the game poses a challenge, players can credit feed their way through the normal “Arcade” setting in around 45 minutes. The game pulls no punches and can be a little unfair at times, but not so much that it breaks the game. Though there is a Challenge Mode and a scoreboard, there is not much to do in the long run.
Infinos Gaiden feels like a long-lost SNK title. Though it is not the deepest or longest game around, it’s a new experience that almost feels nostalgic.