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XIIZeal PC Review

Shoot-em-ups (AKA shmups) have found a good home on Steam, with classics such as Ikaruga, and modern greats such as Crimzon Clover. XIIZeal is a port of XII Stag, which was initially available in arcades and on the PS2. But how does it compare to the numerous other games which have already proven themselves.

Well XIIZeal, a shooter of the vertical scrolling variety, doesn’t do much to stand out from everything else. Like every other arcade shmup, the objective is to beat the game in one go start to finish with a limited supply of lives and continues. There are no checkpoints or saves you can come back to. These kinds of games are all about mastering every set of levels so that you can beat them all with losing as few lives as possible.

In the game you have two weapons, a standard forward-shooting gun, a short-range gun that fires from the sides and back, and a smart bomb which gets rid of all enemy bullets in a small area. Both weapons feature a rapid-fire function. The ‘side and back’ gun is incredibly powerful, powerful enough that coupled with the smart bombs, it can make short work of even the bosses in less than half a minute.

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And well, beating those bosses so quickly does not feel like you are mastering a challenge, it feels more like an exploit. It makes the game too easy, and while some might argue that the bombs should not be relied on as much, there are games out there that manage to use smart bombs in a way that does not diminish from the challenge. Enemies in general are designed in a rather pedestrian manner, they don’t go beyond the point of being functional. They are just objects of varying sizes which shoot projectiles also of varying sizes with no gimmick or hook to make them somewhat interesting.

As for the look of the game, it’s as generic as can possibly be that it just blends in with the several other pixel-graphics shmups out there. The enemy designs include dull-coloured tanks, dull-coloured planes, and dull-coloured mechs. The sheer lack of colour is just one out of many things that make this game feel incredibly boring. The music in the game is awful and INCREDIBLY LOUD, so just be sure one of the first things you do is turn down the in-game volume.

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There’s no tension or excitement here, no thrills just frustration. In some ways that stems from the inconsistent way the game handles collisions with enemies. Certain enemies you’re able to fly over, but some you touch and die immediately. Having to replay the game over and over to just figure out which are the ‘safer’ enemies is annoying, it’s challenge for the sake of it.

And there isn’t much else to XIIZeal. You can load up each stage individually for a score-attack mode, but it plays identically to the standard game mode, so it doesn’t feel worth it. Those hardcore enough could go back and try to master the main game, but it’s not a game interesting enough to master. It’s not like Steam is starved for the genre, so this game is not worth picking up.

5 out of 10