Sunday, September 25, 2011

3D Classics: TwinBee Review

The 3D Classics series on the Nintendo 3DS continues to pull no punches as it releases not just another classic gem, but one that did not hit U.S. shores when initially released.

TwinBee is a classic game that was very popular in Japan. It was a series that thrived in the arcade that reached such popularity as to be a main feature in Konami's other arcade shmup series Parodius. TwinBee also spawned a cheesy, but comical anime as well as multiple sequels and toys.

For this version of TwinBee, 3D effects were added by creating depth and layers. Your ship, enemies, and clouds are on one layer, while the ground, water, and ground enemies are on a lower layer. This creates a visual where it looks like you are looking down from above. A nice added touch to the 3D is done by having some of the mountains, trees, and building/lighthouse things pop up much like paper cutouts in a pop up book. The overall effect looks cool and benefits gameplay much like the 3D effect in the 3D Classics: Xevious game. While in 3D mode it is easier to judge whether the bullets from the ground enemies are on the same level as you. This allows you to fly over some bullets that haven't quite reached your level. In a game like TwinBee, any extra help is much appreciated when trying to collect the bells.

The bell system for power ups and points is what sets TwinBee apart from other shmups. Basically when you shoot some clouds, gold colored bells pop out. If you grab the gold bell you earn some points. If you shoot the bell first enough times, it will change color. each different bell color offers a different type of aid or power up. For example, the white bell gives you a double shot. While this is similar to Capcom's power up system from their 1940 series, Konami decided to take it a step further. If you cycle through to another gold bell, the amount of points received increases. This adds some judgement calls that has you deciding on whether or not you would benefit from say a double shot or some extra points for that high score. To make it more challenging you will usually have multiple bells on a screen as well as plenty of enemies trying to take you out. this creates some pretty frantic gaming as you try to juggle the bells for points while dealing with the enemies.

Besides a regular shot, Konami has also added a ground attack that is similar to Xevious. Hit the other button and your guy will throw bombs down at the ground, literally. Your plane has tiny arms and hands that lobs bombs at the ground. During gameplay you can actually have your arms shot off which strips you of your ground attack. An ambulance thing (literally a box with a light in the homeport, but a flying ambulance in the arcade) will come out on screen and if you can fly into it you will regain your arms for the ground attack.

When compared to the arcade original, 3D Classics: TwinBee (and the original Famicom port) has reduced graphics, music, and sound. The original arcade had almost super Nintendo style graphics with some great sound effects. The original arcade version is also much harder. The 3D Classics version can be quite forgiving. Difficulty is also made a tad bit easier with the inclusion of rapid fire. This shifts the game slightly from its arcade origin. I find myself in the arcade version spending a lot of time trying to get power ups while in the 3D Classics version I am going for gold bells for points. The difficulty in the 3D Classics version comes from trying to best your high score.

Overall at 3D Classics: TwinBee is a great addition to the growing "Classics" library on the Nintendo 3DS as well as a great value. For a mere $4.99 you can not only own a game that never made it over to the states on the original Nintendo, but you can own a 3D enhanced version with some added saved score features and rapid fire controls.

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