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Retro Of The Week #2 - Ranger X
Posted by Swifto
Posted on 13 February, 2012 at 00:00AM ↑ 1 ↓ 0
Retro Of The Week #2 - Ranger X

Hey guys! Glad you could make it!
Anyone who knows me knows I love the classics.
I like to rant and rave about the classics.
So I figured I'd start a new series here, to be updated MAYBE every week with a new game featured.
So, let's get started! Up first;
A very very little known Genesis/Megadrive game; Ranger X!
The sole release of Gau Entertainment, they put a lot of love and work into making their first title release a wonderful hit. However, it wasn't marketed. Like, at all. Thus, the game didn't sell, Gau folded, and what could have been a great series and company couldn't even get off the ground.

But we're here to talk about the game!

Most platformers have you heading to the right, sometimes shooting along the way, right?

Well, Ranger X does that too. BUT!! It does it differently!

For starters; you can fly!
For limited but lengthy periods. A little dial on the bottom right lets you know your engine heat levels. Touching the ground a quarter second cools it right off though, letting you take flight once more in no time. The controls for this are very robust, kinda slow-paced, but quick-responding enough to make for some very intense fights. When in flight, hold down and you'll fall much more quickly instead of kinda floating when you have some momentum going. Ducking before jumping upwards will send you flying even higher (essential for one level) and faster.

Also, Ranger X is unique in that you always have a little helper vehicle alongside your own cool blue mecha-suit. The most fun of them is the well-armed Uni-motor-cycle, the EX-UP. (Idunno) Can be independently controlled, provided you have a six-button controller, to scoot around left or right, completely freely from your own movements, provided you have the finger dexterity. (playing on emulator with a controller that has L and R buttons helps immensely here) When you're flying around and shooting, the EX-UP is rocking the ground level, ramming into enemies and firing at the same time as you are. For ultimate cool, stand on top of the EX-UP and charge forward, surfing along and blasting all the enemies you come across. And when you're starting to take damage, just duck while standing on the EX-UP and you can control the EX-UP by itself, with a faster firing auto-homing gun and a separate healthbar!!

The other helper vehicle is a large slowly-floating ship with some hefty firepower. It doesn't have the interactive fun of the EX-UP, is only used for three levels, but still dang cool.

Your standard attack is a fairly basic shooter, doesn't do much damage, but can be fired constantly with no consequence. You fire left and right by pressing either the A or C button. This has a fairly large impact on the gameplay, since enemies will often be coming in from all angles.

The special weapons you can use in this game need special mention, too. You start with just two, a flamethrower (powerful but uses the energy bar quickly) and a bomb that rolls across the ground for a helluva long distance. Great starter weapons, and you get more as the game goes on, including such beasts as the Twin Lasers (quite broken), a little mechanical bird that can seriously fuck shit up, and a nifty wide wave weapon that destroys enemy projectiles. (handier than it sounds) There's other weapons, but shit, find'em yourself! =D You switch between special weapons by ducking into your helper vehicle and pressing the special weapon button.

These special weapons use up energy. You fill this bar by being in a light source. Levels out in the day replenish your meter constantly and aren't a worry for energy, but then you have to clear out a cave level...... You have to blow holes open in the roof to let in some sun to recharge. To heal, you can stand in a charge station that drains your energy to replenish health, or pick up a smaller version of them that one-time heals your health for however much energy you have. Be on the lookout for all of these, and use them wisely.

All this combined makes for a rather daunting game to get into. It can be tricky to get into the control scheme, and it WILL take a few playthroughs before they're fully grasped, but the effort is well worth it. You feel like an amazing death machine when you can so fluently switch your firing angle, flying around, darting between enemy shots, fighting and attacking airborne enemies while your EX-UP is killing things on the ground.

The graphics in this game are very impressive as well. Considering the hardware, it's a damn good looking piece of work. I'm still not sure how they do some of the background wizardry that they accomplish here. I hear tell that Gau managed to exploit a glitch of sorts that let the Genesis display 64 colours instead of 32 (don't quote me on that), and if they did, it sure shows. The colours used between the levels are quite varied, giving a sense that you're going from area to area, wiping them clean of all enemies as you go.

All told? This game should REALLY be on virtual console. It's just too great to leave so far from obscurity. Try it out, however you can! Give it a few playthroughs, until you've got the controls down. Well worth your time, trust me!

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