Review: Otomedius Excellent (Xbox360)

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Otomedius Excellent the sequel to Otomedius G; the second in the series but the first to reach American shores, this japanese shmup pays homage to the classic Gradius series and the different spin offs of the classic titles from Konami including Parodius, Salamander, Axelay, Goemon and even the Castlevania games.
The game feels like a love letter from the developers to the fans of not just Gradius, but of all the classic games we loved from Konami over the years. With the anime style graphics, the references to all these games, it’s impossible not to smile when you boot the dvd and start playing Otomedius Excellent, that and… well, big breasts.

Otomedius Excellent

Characters & Ships based on Konami classics


Story
After a really good anime intro that hooks you into playing Otomedius, i really don’t have any idea what the story is about, but all i can say is, Spaceships, a lot of pew pew and anime girls, MOE~! (thanks for the fan service Konami!)
Months after the Gofa Sister’s invasion (Otomedius G) peace has returned and new members have joined the squad. As we know peace is not eternal and a new enemy appears, the students of St. Gradius school have the task to fight bravely against the new menace of the Dark Force, that’s invading planet earth.

Gameplay
Otomedius Excellent arrives to bring a new generation of players a taste of the classic Gradius titles with this 2.5D side scrolling shooter, featuring a story mode, multiplayer and Score Attack.
Story Mode is basically a one player game mode, multiplayer lets you play with up to 3 players offline and online via Xbox Live Arcade, and omg thanks Konami for that! Glad to see companies understand the need to give us both, offline and online multiplayer!
Story Mode and Multiplayer gives us the choice to continue if we run out of lives, with four difficulties; Apprentice, Easy, Normal and Expert. While Score Attack, will be the choice for the purists trying to beat their own score, challenging their abilities as there are no continues at all.

Now the common question, is this a bullet hell? No, it’s not. Producer Koji Igarashi said they wanted to give newcomers a taste of the old Gradius in Otomedius, bullets follow apath just like in the classic Gradius games. Later levels in the game are hard, so don’t think there aren’t tons of bullets on screen.
Boss fights give us a good trip to memory lane, these fights can be difficult especially in the final stages, but who likes a game without any feat to achieve right? So don’t think just because it’s not a bullet hell that the game is bad, not at all, it can be challenging giving although it’s not perfect (see downsides).
There are 11 different characters, including 3 unlockables and one by buying DLC, each character and their respective ship is based in a previous game of the Gradius series and the Konami titles as i mentioned before, as you play throughout campaign and score attack they can level up, experience is based on your final score that can be uploaded to the leaderboards.

Otomedius Excellent

Select your character and customize loadouts


Each character has her own loadouts, but once you select a character you can change loadouts manually and decide the best options to fit your needs and game style. While each of the pilots has her own characteristic attacks, it’s good to mess with the different choices at your disposal; lasers, missiles, dual or tri shots, you name it.

Graphics 8/10
If you think the characters look familiar you are right, character design by Mine Yoshizaki, the creator of Keroro Gunso. This is not the first time he has designed characters for a videogame and he is not stranger to the Gradius universe, he was the designer for Detana!! TwinBee.
People say the graphics look dated, but i have to disagree, i think it looks great. The game was never intended to have high end graphics that would not fit with the cute anime style of the characters, think of it as a game, that should look like an anime not as a realistic environment. Take in mind the title was designed aiming for a Japanese audience, that is into anime and manga. The style of the graphics delivers that for the fans, and do it right.

Sound 8/10
The soundtrack is quite good and the Japanese voice acting is delightful, truly what an anime fan wants in a game like this.

Otomedius Excellent

up to 3 player co-op, offline and via Xbox Live


Downside
I encountered a lot of trouble joining online matches, which is a real shame, many people on the leaderboard, but hardly an online game to join. Probably just me or the time i tried, still i was dissapointed.
Unlimited continues, my god.. ok i get it, you want newcomers to get the feel of the Gradius universe, but why do you give us this option in expert? Why is this not limited for apprentice and easy and for harder difficulties lower the amount of continues. It feels cheap to reach the end of the game in the harder difficulty knowing you have unlimited continues, even if you could lower the amount of continues, specially for expert unlimited continues shouldn’t be there.
Boss battles are not rewarding, why?… Really why? Bosses look amazing, they are challenging and i love them, but why do they have to flee after a time, if you can’t destroy them on time? After you die a lot, after you keep continuing, please give me the joy to see them explode in front of my eyes! Having bosses leave the scene and moving on to the next stage, doesn’t give you much satisfaction. If we get another Otomedius game outside Japan, please don’t do this again.
Sigh.. I dont have the Special Edition, hey… it’s a downside for me!

Extras
No avatar awards or gamer pictures. DLC to unlock Kokoro Belmont (Castlevania) and additional BGM packs are available in the Xbox Live Marketplace for 400MSP each one.

Otomedius Excellent

Fight against cute anime style characters, the boss is coming!


Overall
Otomedius Excellent is a fantastic Shmup, giving fans of the franchise a good game with tons of fun that although repetitite it does have replay value. Charming characters that appeal to anime fans with a fantastic art gallery, customization loadouts, unlockable characters and very good gameplay.

This title may not be perfect, while hardcore fans of the Shmup genre may not be pleased with unlimited continues, this may be attractive for newcomers and more casual gamers, who are looking to spend a good time playing, without the chore of spending hours training and learning how to beat the game. Still, Otomedius offers hardcore players a challenging Score Attack without continues to brag their highest score in the leader boards.
So is Otomedius Excellent worth to play? Most definitely! If you like side scrolling shooters and love anime this is a game you cannot miss!

We give the game an 8 out of 10

~Mario