While Omega 5 may be easy to overlook as just another Xbox Live Arcade shoot’em up, to do so would be a bad decision.
Whether you’re in it for the novelty of a Japanese developer creating an Xbox Live game, the fancy HD graphics, the absolutely jammin’ soundtrack, or just the thrill of the bullet dodging; Omega 5 is a game that, despite initial appearances, proves to be both accessible and addictively fun.
Starting out, players are given the choice between Ruby and Tempest. Each character has three upgradeable, variable direction weapons types (controlled with the right analogue stick), a dodge move that consumes part of your life bar, a special power, and a bomb attack fueled by enemy drops called pink chips.
Ruby is smaller and faster and her leech claw felt more useful than Tempest’s multi directional shot or whip-like specials that depended on the weapon type.
Beating the game with Ruby unlocks R.O.D., essentially a souped-up version of the female character. Finishing with Tempest reveals the absurd katana-wielding Sensei, who sics his dog to mark enemies so he can shower them with his magic bullets.
Reaching the end of the game at first seems impossible, never mind unlocking extra characters. You are given three lives, and unless you’re a half-way decent shmupper, you’re not likely to make it past the first level on your initial attempt.
Some degree of memorization is handy, for example, to know exactly when the robot crashing around in the background makes his dramatic foreground leap to pester you with his ice breath.
Just as you begin to despair of ever escaping the robot-infested swamp that is level two, you’ll get a message after a ‘Game Over’ that you’ve been upgraded to five lives. Two hours later you’re up to eight, and after five hours they’ll give you unlimited ‘Continues’. This is really great, because it helps the casual player complete the game, but won’t affect the people who obsess over beating it “properly” with one credit and getting every achievement.
Beating each level unlocks a Challenge mode version, which is just a score run. Finishing the Arcade mode in full will unlock Arcade++, a brutal one hit death scenario for those with the hardest cores. Replay value is incredibly high if you’re of a mind to attempt these feats, and the awesome background music will have you pumped up and ready to try again.
The graphics ooze “next-gen” goodness all over, and when you expect to see slow-down, you don’t. It’s pretty exhilarating when a screen full of bullets just marches along at that brisk frame rate. This isn’t to say that slow-down never occurs, but just that I usually count on slow-down to relax for half a second, whereas Omega 5 impresses from start to finish.
All in all, for ten bucks, Omega 5 is a steal. Four levels may feel short to some, and maybe the pro shmuppers can ace it pretty quickly, but after battling through for hours, I felt like I had a full experience.
I only wish the hitbox was a bit more obvious, because it can be hard to tell whether a pixel will hurt me or not when things get heavy. Oh, and if Ruby’s claw could be a little more amiable… but now I’m just nitpicking.
All in all, from the Japanese accented level announcement voice overs, to the funny yipping of Sensei’s dog, I really enjoyed this game. Lets cross our fingers that the team at Natsume has some more up their sleeve.
What does this score mean? Check out our review scoring breakdown.