years before Terra Cresta appeared in the arcades, its prequel Moon
Cresta added innovative touches to the Invaders theme, with varied enemies
and attacks, and a docking sequence which expanded your ship. Moon Cresta
proved a massive hit, (and is still remembered fondly today) - signifying
that variety and more complex powerups and controls were required to
make the next step up from Galaxians.
The same philosophy was applied to Terra Cresta. Taking it's cue from
countless Xevious clones (such as Espial, Exed Exes, and Vulgus - which
added nothing new to the genre) it expanded on the whole concept of
the vertically scrolling shmup. At first sight it seems yet another
clone in gameplay and looks. Dig deeper and you'll discover a powerup
system ingenious in its simplicity, bolted on to an addictively difficult
and furiously frustrating game.
The weapon system is in many ways unique, and hasn't been copied an
awful lot since. Your ship starts as a naked lonely soul, with only
a bleepy weedy shot to keep it warm at night. Ground bases (numbered
from 1 to 5) appear every so often, and shooting these will release
a bolt-on-able section of ship. Collecting these will boost the firepower,
adding backshots and a wider spread. A quick bash of the second firebutton
will expand the ship temporarily into formation mode, dependent on the
amount of extras you've collected.
The ultimate ship is the Terra Cresta itself, only available if you
have successfully collected all the powerups without dying. Bashing
the second button will morph the ship into a phoenix-like bird, completely
invincible for a few seconds. This system is one of the reasons I pumped
veritable skiploads of 10 pences into the machine in the arcades. Trying
to stay alive to collect that elusive fifth powerup is a completely
engrossing experience. The sheer feeling of exhilaration when you finally
manage it is unbeatable. Losing your addons, on the other hand, is a
screen-punchingly bitter affair!
Without this powerup system, the game would be significantly less fun,
but the gameplay itself is compulsive. The enemy ships have a horribly
accurate way of swirming around in pattern which match your own pathetic
attempts to escape their path - it's preprogrammed, sure, but it's still
uncanny how I seem to die so often because I don't learn! Lots of ground
activity too, and I was glad to see that you don't need a separate weapon
for ground installations for once - just shoot 'em and be done with
'em! The X shaped barriers are indeed a pain in the bahookie, as you'll
need to sneak in close to get the guns hiding behind them. Large dinosaurs
and iguana-like-beasties roam the plains, spitting fire and taking many
hits before they suddenly become calcified bone.
Bosses are typical of an early shooter: unlike many modern games, they
are not the be all and end all of the game. Far from it in fact, I've
only seen three types so far, and although quite nasty, they aren't
huge affairs. The game doesn't stop for them either, just continues
into the boss and past it. A later Nichibutsu game I've got on PCB now,
Terra Force, does this too - levels sort of merge into each other without
defined start and end points.
For an early title, the music is actually rather groovy. Apparently
there's two variations on Terra Cresta, each with a different sound
chip, and with slightly different tunes. I personally prefer the more
muted one, as it's the one I grew up with! Special mention must go to
Martin Galway's C64 interpretation of the music, which had a great new
Nichibutsu has a great back catalogue of shmups, amongst them UFO Robo
Dangar, Terra Force, Armed Formation F, and many of them are emulated
by one of my favourite emulators, Richard Bush's RAINE.
Unfortunately, their console policy has been less than inspiring. The
PC-Engine Terra Cresta 2 is a poor followup of the original, and the
Saturn release of Terra Cresta 3D is plain and utter drivel. Armed Formation
F, whilst not being brilliant, has an awful PC-Engine conversion. Players
hankering after Moon Cresta can play it on MAME, and even on a SNES
compilation cart, but Terra Cresta has been a long time in coming home.
At the time of writing, RAINE, SPARCADE and MAME all emulate it, together
with the X6800 Japanese computer emulator. For a long time, not one
of them played it properly, but now finally MAME has come up trumps.
afraid to mix prehistorics with spaceships, Terra Cresta's Terra-nosaurs
prove to be a real nuisance with their tortilla breath.
here how the ship is expanded, the F icons at the bottom show how
many more expansions you can do. And lo and behold! I all but one
part of the addons! There it is!! Finally, I get to take a snapshot
of the phoenix ship!
I am invincible!!"
I was saying this long before anyone had heard of Goldeneye....
those cross things? Annoying they are - you can't hit the bases
behind them! Get in close and take them out before they start shooting.
of the few Terra Cresta bosses, this one sits and spits bullets
while staying a good distance away - not too hard....
unlike this one, which closes in and backs you into a corner. Even
after all these years (since 1985!) I still can't get very far in
it. If anyone can, please take some pics for me? Ta! - Malc