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  • Chad Myers

Game Review #402: VASARA Collection (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: QUByte Interactive

Publisher: QUByte Interactive

Category: Action, Arcade

Release Date: 8.15.2019

Price: $9.99

Buy Vasara Collection from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

View the sold-out physical copy from Strictly Limited Games here.

Arcade Shoots To Switch

I can’t really describe why I’m such a big fan of shmups, because they’re not fans of me, and they tend to kick my butt all over the place. So, it’s kind of like some of my previous relationships—and God knows I hung around those far too long—shmups and I will be carrying on this S&M relationship for a while to come.

The game we are looking at that will be kicking my butt today is Vasara Collection, which is two games in one: the original game, and its sequel. The games were created by Japanese developer Visco, founded in 1982 by Tetsuo Akiyam. Visco developed games for multiple platforms under the Nintendo brand, multiple also under the Sega brand and Neo Geo, but they were well known for their arcade games, with these last two Vasara games being their last forays in game development. Now out of the video game business, Visco makes slot machines for game rooms in Japan. I must say, this whole end of an era has me rather intrigued, so follow along to find out what I thought.

Feudal Japan Meets Gundam

Science-Fiction meets Japanese History in these arcade classics, which take place in an alternate timeline of Feudal Japan, where technologically advanced weaponry and equipment are a reality, and heroes use flying motorcycles with amazing firepower, and fierce melee weapons to destroy their enemies.

  • Vasara: Vasara is set in the year 1600 A.D. Hideyoshi Hashiba, the current ruler of Japan, has died, and Ieyasu Tokugawa is planning on taking over. The three main heroes are trying to make sure that Tokugawa does not assume control as they battle their way through a series of warlords sent by Tokugawa to stop them.

  • Vasara 2: The story is set before the first Vasara, making Vasara 2 technically a prequel. None of the characters from the first game return, though there are similarities. Each of the new playable characters has his or her own unique feel that makes the game feel a bit different from the first. Oda Nobunga is the villain in this game, and is aiming to take over Japan. It is up to five of the most powerful warriors to stop him.

Both stories are well done, and far better than most shmups. Honestly, I was surprised with just how decent the story is for a fast-paced bullet-hell shooter. It was a blast seeing an enemy’s face take up almost the entire screen as they approach, barking dialogue as to how they’re going to stop our hero’s attempt to right the wrongs brought upon the innocent people of Japan, then, after the brief rant, a mini-boss appears—or better yet, one of the huge, epic bosses!

Samurai Mechs..... Nuff Said!

When playing the games back-to-back, it’s easy to see that they’re very similar, as only a few major changes were made from game to game. After you choose your character, the madness begins, with bad guys coming out of the woodwork; and this translates to both games equally, as this is truly a bullet-hell experience.

There are difficulty modes for those of us who have a hard time making it to the end, but luckily, in this edition, when you hit the left bumper in either of the classic games, it adds a coin, and you can have nine coins at a time in the slot for continues. This is like a built-in cheat to give you unlimited lives so you can power through the harder extended levels—or, at least speaking for myself, as it helped me out. Luckily, bumping into ships and such won’t take you out immediately, but if you’re shot, then that’s it, as it is one hit, one kill.

When picking your fighter, you can choose power, speed, or go for a more balanced rider. These riders, just like the game itself, do things differently, as they don’t just fire off missiles and lasers. Nope! They shoot daggers, chuck out huge spears at breakneck speed, and some even carry samurai swords that can be activated to wreak havoc. Speaking of havoc, the first game readily gives you bombs to use, and the second took this away, which was a big change, and something to get used to. Both games use the Vasara power-strike, but before unleashing the strike, it must be built up by collecting the gems floating amongst the carnage.

You can also power up your standard weapon by collecting the tiny floating emblems with the letter P. They can quickly help you turn the tide in battle, and if you are killed, they are left floating for you to rush and try to scoop up. Of course, both games can be enjoyed in co-op with a friend, though the screen can feel a little crowded and a tad overwhelming—but damn, it’s a lot of fun!

We have the new mode that came with this collection, which is beautifully updated, called Timeless Mode. This mode is fully widescreen, whereas the classics are the old-school vertical modes with graphics on the side. Seeing the new mode and being able to use the full screen was a nice touch. Also, in this mode, you can play co-op with up to four players, which is an absolute blast with friends. In the new mode you’re also able to follow your scores through the online ranking leaderboards, and you have the gallery to look at art, from the older games to the newer models.

Audio & Visuals

All the classic music heard through the arcades is here, making the soundtrack one of nostalgic bliss for gamers, as they found that sound that was stitched into the fabric of shooters for years through the ‘90s. The visuals are a feast for the eyes as far as shmups go, and I love the look of the classic arcade games, but the new Timeless Mode is equally impressive.

As I mentioned, the new mode is full widescreen, which allows us to really see things; and the new look pops right off the screen, especially in the boss fights. Also, an extra tidbit: the classic games can be played in left/right vertical mode. The game works perfectly with the Flip-Grip accessory, which allows you to play the game as it was meant, in vertical mode, while playing handheld.

It’s A Wrap!

The Vasara Collection is a reminder of two things to me: a time where you could walk into a mom & pop eatery and find a shmup arcade to dump tons of quarters into, and that I can still get my butt whipped up and down in a shmup. Vasara also gives the gamer so much in terms of options and choices while playing, and allowing for different co-op choices again adds to the allure of having this game in your collection. At this time, it’s too late to snag the physical copy, as they’ve all sold out, but I’d still recommend grabbing the digital to have on hand, as you’ll have a lot of fun if you like shmups.

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Vasara Collection from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

View the sold-out physical copy from Strictly Limited Games here.

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*Review Code Provided by QUByte Interactive

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