Review bit: So I know the developer of this game was very interested to get the name out there, I also knew I would review it at some point. Well in desperation for a game I could finish up easily at the time. Rad Raygun fit the bill for me perfectly as firstly it's apparently a manageable length, secondly I didnít believe it would require me to be completely drunk to review it and finally it actually looked like it would be quite good.
For those who arenít aware of what Rad Raygun is its pretty much a parody side scrolling action game stylised to look like it was made for the original Gameboy. No not the Advanced one, yes there was a hand held years ago in black and white. I think this game aims slightly before my time but being a 90s kid I grew up on re-runs of the 80s just with less hope for the world and shoulder pads, oh the shoulder pads, how silly they look.
As parodies go itís quite good, I got maybe half the jokes and the gameplay and mechanics do work to give the idea of an old school side scrolling shooter. Expect enemies respawning the moment you leave the screen due to the lower memory of the systems back then, expect screens to stop and scroll to the next one at certain points and power ups in one case one extremely annoying one which while you can collect Iíve spent an hour trying and ended up watching a speedrunner show how to get it.
†As it turns out its very much the old school knowing just where to stand, along with some loving old school tricks like walking through sections of the level which I think are meant to be deliberate too. The hidden upgrades are fine as other than the one of the first level I was fine collecting them and probably still missed a few in my play through. If youíre aware on 80s events and news youíll probably be fine even if you werenít born then so you will like me most likely get most of the jokes as Ryu the robot goes on his international rob through most the 80s major news events all the bring down the Soviet Union.
Each level does try to vary up the enemies each not only looking different but behaving slightly differently. Like the enemies each level does also have a unique aesthetic too it and a boss which requires a slightly different strategy to take out. The powers you unlock are also fairly well thought out and in keeping with the 80s vibe including a jetpack of course. As youíd expect dialogue when itís present and the story is suitably cheesy. The soundtrack is rather great and true to the era itís trying to replicate with a very enjoyable chip tune sound. Heck it holds up quite well even when placed against the games itís styled after.
One of the more impressive little sections involving Tetris played in a way you've probably never seen done before.
In my about 40 minute, maybe less, playthrough time I only died twice: once due to my own stupidity and once because the developer put little signs up implying Iíd die if I carried on in one direction, so I did because I wanted to test to see what the barbed wire would do. This hints at the biggest problem and probably biggest missed opportunity, the game is too easy. By modern standards Rad Raygun is maybe slightly tougher than normal but not by much. In terms of games like Super Ghouls and Ghosts and old school platformers known for their hellish difficulty Rad Raygun is practically on par with Kirbyís Dream Land without the difficulty code. What would have been nice would have been a difficulty setting option with the settings being something silly like 2010 †and 198X with in bracket Medium and hard mode or even ďNot RadicalĒ and ďRadicalĒ as difficulty levels. Thatís not to say a game being fairly easy to complete isnít nice but as the game has gone to great lengths to give the feel of 80s era Gameboy having the option to play a game that tough would have been the icing on the cake.
Speaking of minor gripes It would be nice to be able to access the options menu from the start menu and not just in the game itself
My only other gripe, and this is a personal one rather than one impacting the game, is that on the Chernobyl area the game set itself up for and completely missed one of the best jokes it could have made. Itís a game about Robots, youíre playing as a robot, youíre at Chernobyl where was the Terminator joke, now for those of you unaware those who stayed behind / went to Chernobyl to try and shut the plant down / prevent even bigger problems and help were called Terminators or more correctly ďlikvidatoryĒ in Russian which literally translates to terminator. I really felt that was a missed joke compared to the one we got. Also before anyone questions how an android can be affected by radiation, originally to clear the roof of Chernobyl they sent up remote controlled robots however the radiation actually kept shorting out their circuitry (Canít you just tell I had to do a presentation on Chernobyl at some point )
Verdict: I am not an 80s kid I did play a Gameboy, a Gameboy pocket but for the most part the only Gameboy games I really played were in colour with the SNES converter cartridge for the most part. I however did really enjoy Rad Raygun and while Iím not really in the mood to play through it again right away I feel itís a game I could come back to and enjoy replaying again down the line. Again for a game that lets you adjust the colours the way this one does it feels like a real missed opportunity to have different difficulty options. I happen to know itís got its eyes on Steam Greenlight so who knows maybe that version will have it. Heck it might even try to emulate the Gameboy SNES converter as a completion bonus or something letting you re-colour the game more, though thatís actually just my personal hope.†
I feel Rad Raygun is worth its asking price and then some at present. Can I recommend it for everyone ? No because with modern gamers crying foul over anything with polygons in it, a game designed to be so oldschool itís drained of colour (As Gameboy games were for those of you playing VITA or 3DS) I can see plenty of people objecting to it. Also unless you actually played games from that era some of the things will seem like bugs such as weird environmental bits where sometimes you donít think your path should be blocked and other times where you think it should be blocked but isn't. Being a game †styled after games of the 80s it manages to capture most of the best of the era and only accidentally catches some of the worst aspects too so it comes away much better than many past games.†
I canít recommend it however I can say you should at least download and play the trail, because if you like it the rest of the game is that but seemingly better, also Iím pretty sure the game even makes a joke about Hipster and itís reachable in the trail version so if nothing else thereís your reason to try the trial. You know what, Iím going to give it a special recommendation because hell itís my recommendation list so I can change it up and give it a slightly different recommendation