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Old 17 August 2019, 16:39   #47

Shatterhand's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Rio de Janeiro / Brazil
Age: 36
Posts: 3,341
About Project-X


Design is bland, heavy-inertia controls are always a big NO on shmups, lack of music, no sense of flow, no thought given to weapon balance, no cool set-pieces, boring gameplay, no music during gameplay, no level design at all.

Long post:

I admit, I am not so much into the shoot em up (or "shoot em side" ), but I played these games from time to time (never finished any), so as an average player, I really don't see what's wrong with Project X.
If someone can show me (much) better Amiga shooters, so I can google them out and see, maybe I'l understand better.
Right now, I don't see what Project X needs to offer more then it gives already.
Going only with horizontal scrollers:

Apidya, Z-Out, Silkworm, R-Type, Dragon Breed, R-Type 2. All of them way better than Project-X. None of them look as good, I admit, but they all play way better.

Could also add Uridium 2 which I find to be a great game, but that's such an unique game that I find hard to compare it with another games.

the way it respond instantly on command
No it doesn't. Thats the main problem with Project-X among a huge list of problems.

Give Project-X to any seasoned shmup veteran to play for the first time and in 3 seconds of playing any of them will scream the same thing:


This was one of the main problems with euro-shmups, and one that shows how european devs were usually more about showing coding skills than actually desiging a proper working game.

Shoot'em ups are all about precision movement. They are about squeezing your little ship in the middle of those shitload purple/orange pixels trying to kill you. You want *PRECISE* movement. This doesn't exist on Project-X, because the ship controls like a fucking tank. Go at the shmups forum and ask what people think about shmups with inertia, and see people lightining up torches. And it's for a reason.

The weapons are unbalanced. Now while the Gradius Power Bar has its issues, it was an ingenious design which many people copied wrong, including Team 17. In Gradius you basically have just 2 main weapons - Laser and Double. And they BOTH are useful depending on what level you are. Everything else are cumulative Power Ups. The thing with the Gradius Power Up bar was about giving you strategy liberty to choose how you want to upgrade your ship. Do you want to get a better weapon first, or are you going to invest in speed ups? Do you go quickly for the Force Field? Or do you grab all options before anything? Later games even expanded upon this allowing the player to customize his own power bar, choosing the order of the powers ups.

Project-X is all about getting that one better weapon than the others. Its "similar" to the Gradius Power Up, yet it doesn't work so well because the game isn't designed properly to work with it. Also there's huge shortage of power ups in certain levels, which makes it even worse.

And then... the game has no level design or any sense of flow. You have one enemy, it attacks you at a timed wave. The same type of enemy will attack you up until his time is over. When time ends, no more of that enemy, new enemy comes up. You are basically attacked by one single type of enemy during a limited amount of time. This is specially silly with the mid-bosses, because you kill one, ANOTHER IDENTICAL ONE shows up and keep attacking you until the time ends and he just leaves. It make the whole battle pointless, you can just concentrate on avoid his attacks, because if you kill him, another one will just appear and keep killing you.

And the enemy attacks are just... uninspired. You have to deal with a heavy inertia-driven truck as a ship to avoid insanely boring waves made of a single type of enemy. Like I said, there's no sense of flow, no sense of advancing trough a challenge, it's just the chore of going from one enemy after the other up until randomly the final boss appear. You can't even sense if the level is ending or nothing, because there's no sense you are advancing through anything or going anywhere. It's just boredom with a flying truck.

Compare it with R-Type or Gradius (Or if you want an Amiga game, Apidya), where levels have rhtym, flow, where enemy waves seem to be designed to give you enough room to manouver among them WHILE trying to crushing you instead of just reapeting one single motion, and where you can *feel* the level advancing, the enemy patterns evoluting to something bigger near the end of the level. Where different types of enemy attack together to create new patterns for you to learn and dodge. Do you remember when you first saw that ring of turrets in the 1st level of R-Type, or the first type you got to the volcanos on Gradius, or when you figured out the attacks of the praying mantis at the end of the 1st level of Apidya? Project-X is completely devoid of moments like this.

And generally it also feels souless, generic, with a huge lack of excitement all around (The lack of music also helps with feeling). Rico Holmes art usually felt a bit like this, like it was technically amazing but with no soul to it. The whole game feels like this. It's like they wanted to prove they could to a technically good Shoot'em up, but they didn't even like shoot'em ups to start with. It's like they made a game ticking checkboxes:

Player controls a ship? Check
There's stuff to blow up? Check
Things attack the player? Check
There are different weapons to choose from? Check
Runs at 50 fps on overscan so everyone can drool about my coding skills? Check.

And that's it. No thought was giving to make everything work together.

Last edited by Shatterhand; 17 August 2019 at 16:51.
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