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2/24/2013

REVIEW: Otomedius Excellent (Xbox 360)


Otomedius Excellent is one of those very rare and obscure games that people usually never hear about during their gaming careers. Inspired by the legendary shoot-em-up series Gradius with several touches of moe and ecchi all over the game, Otomedius Excellent results in a title with a very specific target audience that will make you love or hate it with a passion.

This game is actually the sequel to Otomedius Gorgeous, another shoot-em-up of the same style released only in Japan years ago. The sequel, Excellent, somehow managed to make it to the west by the hands of the original publisher, Konami. That alone is more than enough reason to support the game and be happy that something like this is on retail among the never-ending avalanche of first-person shooters.

But now to the point, Otomedius Excellent is a game of the same style as Gradius, Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun and Triggerheart Excellica. The difference is that here, the “ship” (or rather, the busty anime girl you play as) flies horizontally instead of vertically. It’s pretty much the same as any other shoot-em-up: Very short but with tons of replay value, very difficult and you’ll usually find yourself avoiding walls of bullets at the same time as shooting your way through the eight levels the game offers. The original thing here is simply the ecchi and moe factor.

It’s going to be very easy to notice that OE is not strong graphically; in fact, I remember many last-gen games that looked better than this. Excellent feels more like an HD remake of an older game available on Xbox Live Arcade and if you’ve played Triggerheart Excellica or Ikaruga you won’t help but wonder why a disc-based game doesn’t look better. This is another reason many players will find to stay away from it.

By that I don’t mean the game looks bad or is ugly, on the contrary. It’s actually very pretty and varied. During the game’s eight levels you’ll fly around sunny beaches, underground volcanic caves and even deep space itself all while big-breasted anime girls taunt each other in Japanese every minute or so. Depending on tastes, many players will find it great and others will just avoid it like a plague.

The music is not bad but nothing special either. Most tunes in the game are just generic beats of the ones found in older (N64/PS1) games. The sound effects are cartoony but do their job right so I don’t really have any complaints there. All characters have several voice lines to them as well but there’s no real narrative and it’s actually very easy to finish the game several times without knowing, or caring for that matter, what the game’s plot is about.

In gameplay, the game is and feels like a classic shmup. You pick a ship (busty girl), select a few upgrades to pick up as you go and shoot your way through the levels as you avoid enemy fire at the same time. In fact, when you describe Otomedius Excellent to another gamer, it easily sounds like the best game ever made. “It’s like a horizontal version of Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun where you use busty anime girls with skimpy outfits with tons of upgrades and weapons!” – Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Sadly, the final result is not as much.

Otomedius Excellent default weapon is just a single bullet that feels very pathetic so you’ll want to upgrade to a different one as soon as possible. Just like with the speed of the girl you’re using. By default, they’re all very slow so you’ll want to pick speed-up upgrades that will make avoiding enemy bullets easier. There are many weapons to choose from like spread lasers, gravity bombs, mines and grenades and also several different girls to play as each with their own customizable set of skills and upgrades available to them. This means that each run of the game will feel very different depending on the girl and weapons you choose.

Each time to game is over, you’ll earn experience points that will level up the girls and upgrade their weapons to better and faster versions. You’ll surely want this if you feel like become better at the game for whatever reason. It’s actually very addictive and you’ll probably find yourself playing through it several times with the same girls to level them up.

In terms of difficulty, Otomedius Excellent is hard and unforgiving, especially because a single touch kills the girl and she loses all her upgrades. This can be really frustrating at later levels when the entire screen is filled with enemy bullets and monsters. Still, if you know what you’re doing and have the upgrades you feel comfortable and powerful with, the game will most likely be a breeze when compared to Ikaruga or Radiant Silvergun.

A very negative thing I found is that in games of this genre, boss fights are usually very iconic, scary and feel epic. Otomedius Excellent has many boss fights but only one or two of them will feel this way. That doesn’t mean they’re not difficult and unforgiving though. The normal enemies will surely prove to be an annoyance too especially in your early runs of the game.

Excellent does have a 3-player multiplayer mode both local and online. It’s very fun and depending on who you play with, the game will prove to be easier or much more difficult. The sad part is that the online mode is almost always empty and everyone will have a hard time finding a real friend to play this with.

In short, I don’t really consider Otomedius Excellent a bad game by any means, on the contrary, I support titles that are released this way and if they feel like something different and fun to play among FPS titles then I welcome them. But the game does have flaws that we can’t turn a blind eye on. The art style with skimpy and busty anime girls will keep a huge public away from it for sure. Still, the gameplay is addictive and very fun. If you enjoy anime then the game will feel even better to you and as of now, you can find the Collector’s Edition for a low price of around 15 dollars if you’re lucky (it comes with a nice pillowcase, soundtrack CD and an art book) so it’s a pretty nice deal.


Pros:

-          Very pretty anime-styled art.
-          The level-up and skill system is really addictive and fun.
-          The difficulty feels about right when compared to others.
-          Tons of weapons to choose from.

Cons:

-          Graphics are not very good.
-          Online multiplayer is almost always empty.
-          Dying makes you lose all upgrades.
-          Boss fights aren’t very cool.
-          Even at ~20$, the game feels too expensive for what it really is.


-          Graphics and Visuals……........5
-          Music and Sound Effects…......6
-          Gameplay……………………7
-          Replay Value………………...7

-          Overall Score……………….. 6.5 / 10

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