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Red Alarm

Ah, the fated system, Virtual Boy. Every system has a shooter, be it first, third, or... well... that's all it really can be I guess. SNES had Star Fox, GBC almost had Tyrannosaurus Tex, GBA has Ecks vs. Sever, and the Virtual Boy has Red Alarm. A Virtual Boy exclusive (and you should know why), Red Alarm is a game about a ship flying through some randomly selected places eliminating all enemies in view. There is no story, just mayhem. Think Star Fox, wire-framed.


visuals

I turned on this game with some low expectations-- and I mean low. I was surprised though, as I progressed through the levels, with some of the things I saw. In one level, there are a few waterfalls as you fly through some caverns. Another has you going between air and water at your leisure. You'd think with just wire frame, the quality would be crap, but here we are. For the waterfalls, some jagged lines fall from the same spot. It may not sound like much, but given Virtual Boy's limited capabilities, it's executed fairly well. There aren't any textures, but the way the lines are used is extremely well. If you're in caverns, it doesn't matter if it's all red and black, you can tell where you are.

The enemies aren't as detailed; they're reminiscent of the ones in Star Fox for SNES, but without textures. They still look good though. You'll see birds, fish, turrets, and a whole mess of crap. Then, after firing and passing all these enemies, you'll run into a fairly stupid looking boss. Due to the flatness of some of them, you can't tell what they are or are supposed to be. You just fire at them, they die, and you go on your merry way.

Surprisingly, your ship's graphics are the worst of all things in this game. You can't tell what's what, where your cockpit is, or even where the exhaust comes from (or should come from, rather).

In the beginning of a level, the camera pans over to the ship through a small part of the level, and then goes behind the ship. For the brief time you can see the side of it, you can get a pretty good idea what it looks like.

It's also impossible to tell what the upgrades are when you get them. It'll just attach to your ship, complicating things further. The good aspects of your ship are the guns. They shoot little stars for bullets, which are distinguishable from everything else.

The ship isn't all that bad, because you don't ever have to look at it if you don't want to. But overall, I see two main problems with the graphics of this game.

1. Everything is clear
As far as clear goes on a VB, anyway. You can see enemies through walls, which can be a pain when you're trying to shoot them. Some enemies will circle around pillars, and it can be difficult to see which side they're on.

2. There is some slowdown
There's not much, but it does exist. Whenever you finish a boss, it has a small cinema during which the lines it's composed of explode. The frame rate drops, but it comes back to normal halfway through the cinema.


audio

Like I said, I was coming into this game with some low expectations. Yet again, I was pleasantly surprised. The sound effects are excellent. Your guns make a shooting noise, the bosses make separate noises, there'll be some beeps as you lock on to a target; it's all pretty good.

The music is reasonable; it helps set the mood. While it's a little more complex than those of Mario Clash, it's still pretty basic. In the intro, there'll just be a few notes pretty far apart as the ship launches. Then, when you begin the first level, the music starts to get a little faster, until the action begins. It doesn't get annoying, even after the boss is killed; plus, per level, the music changes. It may not fit as well everywhere, but it's still some good music.

The final aspect of the sound is the voices. Yes, voices. There's some guy, I don't know if he's an announcer, or your copilot, or what, but he'll say a few different things throughout the game. Like when you first start it up, he'll say, "T&E Soft present..." When you begin a mission, you'll hear, "Good Luck." Finally, when you beat a boss, he'll say, "Fantastic!" right before you're taken out of the level.


gameplay

Truly a great aspect of this game is its minimal learning curve. The controls are very simple.

A: Speed up
B: Slow down
Right Trigger: Fire
Start: Pause
Left D-Pad: Move ship
Right D-Pad: Evade move

It's really easy to get the scheme down. The ship obeys your commands pretty well; the control is tight, with no visible flaws.

Like I said before, this is a third person flight shooter. You start out the level in what looks like a base, or some place composed of metal. Things swarm around you, you shoot them, and they explode. You repeat this for a while, until you get to the boss at the end. You blow him away, and go on to the next level.

There's little to this game, save addicting fun. It's a shame this game is on the VB-- your eyes will die before you turn off the system. Another shame is that the only replay value is in-game. You won't want to turn it off.

Yet when you do rest your eyes, you won't want to go back into Red Alarm's red galaxy. If the game had something to reward your efforts, like a secret ship, or even a new weapon/weapon upgrade, the title would be redeemed. Even while you're playing, this game's fun lasts only for a few levels, but what a few levels.


multiplayer

N/A


overall

Again, rewarding your efforts could have saved this game, along with a few other things (none of which were so essential though). It's a good game for the time that you'll play it, and it's mindless shooting fun. There's no plot, nothing to hold you back, no one to save, just aerial carnage. I only take points away for the problems in graphics mentioned above, and because there's little replay value. It's a good game; it just could have been that much better.


final score

7.5/10