Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

[Review] IREM Collection Vol. 1 – Nintendo Switch

By Elly Oak Dec9,2023
Develped By: Ratalaika Games
Published By: ININ Games, Strictly Limited Games
Categories: Shootemup, Retro, Compilation
Release Date: 11.21.23
Price: $24.99,$34.99

IREM is a developer that I often bemoan the death of. A true powerhouse in the early days of Japanese arcades and a shining star in the world of AA games in the mid 00’s. Home to such IPs as Steambot Chronicles, R-Type, and took over the Spelunker IP. Thankfully, the legacy never dies as we have Tozai, Granzella, and others keeping the IPs in the general population’s mind.

Enter: IREM Collection. A series of re-releases of older IREM titles for modern consoles thanks to the efforts of Ratalaika Games, ININ Games, and Strictly Limited Games. The first volume hosts Image Fight, it’s PC Engine CD Sequel, as well as X Multiply. Does it stack up to other collections lately? Yeah, but I wish there was more.

I was surprised when I saw the front end of the collection. It was different than what Ratalaika usually does! A nice wheel to choose our games. In the original Image Fight’s case, the NES, Famicom, and PC Engine releases are included on top of the arcade game. You know how much I love this, especially when it’s seldom done. Arcade or nothing, no ports. Ratalaika has done well on this front lately, especially when you look at Wonder Boy’s massive collection. Once you choose a game however, it’s the same old same old. Don’t fix what’s not broken I guess, it’s just kinda boring at this point.

In terms of extras, there’s really not a whole lot unless you count those console ports as an extra, but I think they’re just part of the full package and not just a bonus. There is challenge modes, but it’s exclusively limiting what can be done. That all said aside, Ratalaika’s shines with their emulation options, even if emulation can often be less than perfect (I really just want more M2 releases, especially with shmups).

Lets talk about the games finally. First with Image Fight. I never really played Image Fight before this collection and I’m starting to feel like I missed out, greatly. I’m not the biggest fan of vertical shooters as opposed to horizontal, but I was drawn in by this and it’s sequel. It starts simple, you have your ship the OF-1, you need to fend off an invasion. But the game doesn’t start thrusters out, but instead in a simulation to test your skill. After four levels of this, if you’re good enough you can move on to the real combat, if not you’ll just have one last test. The difficulty jumps at this point and these last few stages are when the real fun starts.

You won’t just use your standard guns though. First you’ll run into pods, of which you can hold three of. Blue are just extra shots, like options. They shoot when you shoot, just straightforward. Red pods are the fun ones, where they follow where you move, and if turned out, you can use the right stick to aim them, which almost certainly breaks the game. You can mix and match these if you want, or if firing extra bullets just isn’t cool enough, you can just shoot the pods themselves at the invading forces. Sometimes succeeding in areas your guns wouldn’t.

Forces are also a *force* to help you. Consider these different ways to fire as well as a shield. Some spread, some track, some ride walls, some just go where-ever. This would work kind of like the Forces in R-Type, but you can just remove them and use them as a stationary turret.

Image Fight’s music and graphics stand above, IREM was always one to show off their talent in those ways and Image Fight is no different. The ports don’t slack in this department either. If only the SLG release came with soundtrack CDs. Alas, there’s just more excuses to replay the game.

If I had to imagine one flaw with Image Fight, it’d be it’s length, as soon as the real excitement comes, it’s over. Thankfully the sequel fixes this issue.

Image Fight 2 is very much more of the same. A safe console only sequel that does what the first game does and improves on those small errors it had before. It’s longer, and the story is more in your face with some fully voiced anime-style cutscenes. Unfortunately, untranslated. I think I like Image Fight 2 more if only for the length, but both titles are fantastic.

Now we have X Multiply. Consider me a big fan of this game too. Horizontal, full of tentacles, and pretty damn gross. Sounds like my kind of shooter. When I say gross, I really mean it. R-Type is kind of gross, Contra is kind of gross, this is very much like those. Lots of inhuman creaters, faces, organ like objects, musculature. I’m glad I’m not too squeamish or else this game would be hell.

About the gameplay though. The main draw is your two tentacles. They somewhat act as your Force or Option, new weapon pickups you get go to the tentacles too, something Konami’s Xexex would take influence from. Allow yourself to maneuver in a way that can put those tentacles in a good place with enemies or bosses and you can become a godly power. This is the kind of strategy I’d use in R-Type and Xexex too.

X Multiply seemed a bit short for me too, with the ending coming rather sudden. There’s always the excuse to replay the game however. Doesn’t hurt that X Multiply isn’t too difficult of a game either. I can always replay a good horizontal shooter any day too. Especially one as squick-ey as this.

Final Thoughts

I look forward to the next four volumes, especially since at the time of writing we know of the games to be in Volume 2 and 3, but I do have reservations. I’d love if future volumes had anything in terms of extras, at least some art. I’ll say that seeing a different front end instead of the first screen I see being a language select is something though.

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