The Red Star

FEALTY IS DUEFor a game that spent three years in publishing-hell and entertains such lofty influences as Treasure’s Ikaruga and several of Konami’s classic 2D series, one might expect The Red Star to end up rather disappointing. This isn’t the case.

This is a no-nonsense deep-action game that successfully fuses bullet hell with beat-’em-up mechanics. Bullet patterns start off rather calm – almost patient – but by the end of the game things get as hairy as the latest Cave game. I’ve seen the melee mechanics compared to Streets of Rage or Final Fight, but there’s a lot more going on here than in the 2D classics. Branching combos, down attacks, fall recoveries, juggles, air combos, and more make for some seriously dynamic and (satisfyingly) abusable combat. And thanks to unique movesets and capabilities, each of the three characters must be taken on his or her own terms. Makita is all speed, Kyuzo is all power, and the unlockable Maya is somewhere in between yet almost entirely focused on ranged attacks and tricksy magic.

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