The Rapid Angel
There are these games that are pretty obscure, but still a good few people know about them. These games might be hard to come by, and the search for them may take very long if you don't know where to look.
Then there are games that just seem to come out of nowhere. For me, The Rapid Angel is one of the latter.
I hadn't heard anything at all of this game until one day Lee asked me if I could take a look at a game he had just gotten in. I didn't know what to make of it from the scans of the box.
Two words on the back cover made up my mind for me: Techno Soleil. A name which was unknown to me until just recently. These are the same people who made Gaia Seed: Project Seed Trap for the PSone. A 2D shooter that doesn't have to rely on mind blowing graphics or revolutionary game play to be something very special.
The same thing could be said about The Rapid Angel. The graphics aren't the best they could be, but they are very stylish and finely crafted. The game play goes back to the old days of running, jumping and fighting. Picking up coins, gems and money bags for points and food to replenish life. If I had to compare it to any other game, I think I would have to go with Valis. (by that I mean a good Valis -_^ ).
You go though levels fighting people, monsters and various mechanical enemies while avoiding traps and jumping over hazards to get to an end of level boss. Some basic moves that every character has are: running by double tapping forwards, a double jump, a dash attack and a bomb.
Now this is where it becomes interesting.
You have 3 heroines to choose from: Natsumi, Ayane and Haruna. Each of these girls fights in her own personal style. The way they fight and defend themselves vary immensely and give the game 3 completely different ways to be played.
(Well, two and a half to be exact)
Natsumi fights with her fists and feet. Rapidly pushing the attack button links punches and kicks together to create combos.
You can also do a downwards kick while jumping by pressing down+attack in the air. She can block hits by defending with her steel plated arm protectors. While running, she can also perform a jumping kick.
Ayane uses a sword to fight and defend herself. Most of her moves are similar to Natsumi's except she has a spinning sword attack when attacking in the air.
And now for Haruna. When playing with her for the first time, she may appear to be the weakest character. Perhaps to a point where one may think she is useless.
But first impressions couldn't be further from the truth. She is the most versatile character in the game.
Haruna doesn't use close combat moves, instead she throws pins at her adversaries. Which don't inflict a great deal of damage. For her second attack you need to hold down, then press attack, she will throw a card that shoots forwards along the floor and explodes when it makes contact with an enemy. This attack can be charged up to do more damage.
Her defensive move is a magic shield which hurts enemies when they touch it, but takes a second to charge up. Her dash attack ends with her tumbling and falling face first in the dirt. Told you she wasn't good in physical attacks. ^_^
She also can take 3 different stances, from which very powerful attacks are possible. But using these stances in the heat of battle might be a bit tricky, so practice will be necessary to get the most out of them. The first stance is done by holding the L2 button. While doing this you must rapidly tap the attack button 4 times. Haruna will then shoot a little magic bomb which will stun enemies. Leaving them open to your attacks.
Her 2nd stance is with R1. Keep this pressed and she will hold up a scroll. Now rapidly tap the attack button 8 times to summon a female warrior who will deliver 3 devastating blows.
Her last stance uses the R2 button. Hold this down and rapidly tap the attack button 6 times. With this she sets the ground on fire just before her feet.
Like I said before, this game isn't for people who can only enjoy games that have spectacular graphics. (the poor saps :P) Although, if you take the time to notice you will find these little touches which add a great deal of personality to the game, just like with Gaia Seed.
For example, when Haruna shoots her little pins, observant people will notice that her pins are unique, so it isn't the same sprite used over and over. (very tiny detail, I know)
Or when crossing the bridge in area 2, notice how it bends with the weight of the character, and also has this great cracking sound. The splonge when you fall into the water..... It's surprising to see how so little things can add so much.
One more thing I need to add. The 2 player mode. In this mode Player 2 will take control of a little angel, which can help the heroin in her quest. Using the magic meter on the bottom right of the screen, the angel can shoot light particles, create a defensive shield and even transform into a sword.
All in all, I would recommend this to gamers who can admire the finer and more subtle things in games. The beauty is there, you just have to see it. It might not be as polished to perfection like Chippoke Ralph No Daibouken, but very, very few games are.
Andy De Wilde