Omega Five

What we liked:
+ Beautiful Vistas
+ Easy controls
What we didn't like:
- No Story
- No Online Multiplayer
DEVELOPER: Natsume   |   PUBLISHER: Hudson Entertainment   |   RELEASE: 01/09/2008

The great thing about XBLA is that it is an arena for developers to showcase little titles that may be small in package but big on fun. Hudson and Natsume’s latest game sci-fi themed shooter, Omega 5 is indeed the poster child for this motto. Omega 5 is a horizontal-scrolling shooter that immediately brings to mind such classic titles as R-Type and Gradius. Like those games, players battle a near-endless stream of unique and deadly robots and spaceships. Also, like those classics, players will enter the fight with an unlimited supply of ammo and an arsenal of powerful upgrades. However, unlike those games you won’t be in control of some new spacecraft, Instead you will be in control of one of two characters who don’t really seem to have any wings or jetpacks but hover around just the same.

This game could have a little more depth if there was some sort of background story or something that told you who your characters were and why they are fighting these aliens. Unfortunately, there’s nothing of the sort in the game. Then again who really plays through a side scrolling space shooter for the story. To try and make up for this lack of a narrative the devs did see fit to include a few extra goodies to unlock, including new playable characters-and all the weapons that come with them.


Controls & Gameplay
The bulk of the game is played with the two thumb sticks (think Geometry Wars). Players control the flight of their character with the left stick, and fire in all directions courtesy of the right stick. This is a handy little feature, since the enemy forces will come at you from any and all sides. Players will also have access to various upgradeable power-ups. Small metal canisters litter the world, containing red, green and blue markers. Each marker represents a weapons system designated A, B or C. These range from flame throwers and water cannons to high-powered machine guns and electrically charged lightning beams, depending on the character being used at the time. These basic weapons can be upgraded two levels by grabbing a hold of like-colored power-ups. You also will find health power-ups in the canisters which is a welcome addition to this genre. No more “one hit your dead”, but to balance out giving you health you only get 2 continues. That’s it, so if you die twice in a level-.Game Over.

Visuals & Sound
Graphics in this game are easily the best I have seen in an arcade game yet. From the jungle like planet with the river below you, to the war factory last level with the “TRON” like boss there isn’t a moment where you will you think this game is repulsive. Enemies fly in from the backgrounds in droves, unleash some mayhem and get taken out in satisfying explosions. All of the animations are smooth and fluid, a blessing for a game like this, particularly when the screen gets overrun with alien forces. Still, no matter how much is going on onscreen, the frame rate never skips. The weapon effects are also very good; The Tempest uses a flame thrower, water cannon, and what appears to be a melted lead gun. It just needs to be seen to be believed, it really looks incredibly good.

Outside of some explosions and laser blasts the sound is pretty average. The music however is where I think the sound really shines. It has a few different types, there is some j-pop, and jazz, and a little rock music. The music also fits each levels distinct personality.


Achievements
Pretty standard fare with the achievements, you can get an achievement for completing each of the four levels. There is also an achievement for completing the game with each character without dying. There are also three achievements that you are awarded for using your characters special moves. Obtaining them all will put even the most die-hard fan of the genre to the ultimate test.

Online Functionality
Leaderboards-that is all. You would think that you would have some multiplayer with a game like this…but alas no. Perhaps that can be remedied with some DLC in the future but as it stands local co-op is your only option.

Verdict
If you are looking for an excellent single player side scrolling shooter, look no further than Omega 5. From the beautiful graphics, to quirky characters and bosses you will plan on playing for a few minutes and find yourself playing an hour. If you want an online multiplayer side scrolling shooter, you might be better off with SNK’s classic Metal Slug 3.