MUSHA Aleste - Compile/Toaplan

MUSHA Aleste

Reviewed by Postman

A shoot-em-up review site is NOT a true shoot-em-up review site unless it contains certain games. Musha for the Megadrive happens to be one of them. Shmups has been online for around three years now, and nobody has sent in a review for it yet? What’s up with that? Somehow this one got overlooked. Now there are some who go absolutely nuts over this game, and say it takes the prize for best shooter on the Megadrive, but I wouldn’t quite go that far. To be honest, the first few times I played Musha I thought it wasn’t very impressive. But the game has grown on me, and quite a bit. Much like a foreign movie, this is one of those shooters that must be viewed several times to be fully appreciated. Why? I don’t know, but it seems like the more I play the more I like Musha.

Musha Aleste: FFE is the Megadrive version of the Spriggan series (those familiar with Toaplan/Compile’s style will instantly recognize the yellow symbol “fireworks” like powerup present in most of their games). It plays a LOT like the PC-Engine version of Spriggan, with similar themes (heavy Japanese), graphics, and gameplay. Speed is changeable by the player via a meter in the pause screen, and weapons consist of a regular shot and a secondary weapon, which powers up when you get the same color several times in a row. Red gives grenades, green gives a lightning laser, and blue gives a rotating shield. Shooting and collecting those fireworks things powers up your regular shot and increases weapon strength. You also have the ability to change the arrangement of options, which appear when you build a little weapon strength, to the tune of 3 way, forward, backward, reverse, etc. And this is one of the great features of Spriggan, the wide variety of weapon setup.

Enemies, bosses, and minibosses are extremely varied. You will fight both ground and air targets of many forms. This is a nice refresher from wave after wave of normal air-based enemies in most vertical shooters. Speaking of bosses, most are full screen and very creative. In fact, playing through Spriggan games is almost like walking an art gallery, with the player thinking, “what are they going to impress me with next?” Music is also top-notch, and this is one game where you can just go into the sound test mode and listen to each track independent of the game. Tracks are fast paced, like the game, and done in techno style. Despite all of these factors working together to make a great game like Musha, there are a few problems. I keep dying in quick succession, and it’s very easy to throw your whole game just by messing up once. You lose powerups after getting blasted, and with the fast pace of the game it’s hard to build them up again. And sometimes at a boss you can’t even tell what’s killing you. Suprise, you’re dead! So adjustment to the speed is one necessity. So subtract a few points for play control. But overall, Musha is a must play for shooter fans, and a welcome addition to the Megadrive library of games.

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Another game in the awesome Aleste series... MUSHA, though not being my favorite Aleste game (Aleste 2 for the MSX is), still manages to be one of the best vertical scrolling shooters available for the Sega 16 bit platform, with Grindstormer (a.k.a. V-Five) and Truxton (a.k.a. Tatsujin) being the other two contenders for the throne (and oh surprise, all 3 games are from Toaplan. Do I see a pattern here?). However, I don't understand why they named the game after Aleste instead of Spriggan. This game definitely is in the Spriggan vein.

A definitive must in your shmup games collection. (© 2000 Clichéd Phrases Inc.)

- Akira


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie