AREA 3 - The Break:
A nice cop-out from the programmers, this level is a bite-size cut-down mini-level. Nothing much happens here, but there are some nice coloured blocks and things to shoot. The boss is just like the rest of the level, a nice cut-out-and-keep cardboard space-craft.
Novice/Intermdt.: Spread, Scatter or Power
Expert: Spread, Scatter or Power
AREA 4 - The Fire Mechanisms:
Quite tricky this level; flame-emitters shoot fire in your path, while some even leave a trail of fire behind them. The trick is to learn which things are worth shooting, otherwise you'll still be plugging away at a weedy space-ship that won't harm you anyway, while a massive stream of fire is right on your tail! The boss is a cinch, unless you have a low-powered weapon that is - just shoot at the sphere's weak-point and stay back when its fleet attack you. Oh yes, this level also features a nice wobbly green background.
Novice/Intermediate: Missiles or Spread
Expert: Power or Spread
AREA 5 - The Rock Cavern:
An even better wobbly background! Most of the enemies on this level are tiny; even so, there are a lot of them, so be careful. Watch also for the drills that dig away at the rock, and remember, they won't hurt you, so go into them if need be. The boss is 'Nardork'; avoid the rocks that he throws out, watch those long mechanical arms, and he won't be saying "Down with you!" for much longer!
Novice/intermediate: Multiple or Circle
Expert: Power or Circle
AREA 6 - Another Break:
Almost identical to the previous break, so the same weapons and comments apply.
AREA 7 - Missile Landscape:
This level starts off easy with just the few
enemies, but things soon hot up. The last
part is VERY hard, so unless you possess a high powered weapon, you might have to resort to using ALL your bombs. It's worth progressing, though - the guardian is incredibly neat. After the very impressive stretching, expanding and distorting, 'Rubar' starts some Mode-7 scaling and rotation. He's dead easy to kill, but you won't want to dust him until you've appreciated all the Mode-7.
But the best weapon for all players is the Power Shot - I don't know how I could have managed without it!
AREA 8 - The Laser Machines:
Lodsa laser laffs here! Be careful where you shoot, otherwise broken pieces of machinery will come flying straight towards you. Actually, this level is reminiscent of R-Type (level 3) - only with vertical scrolling instead of horizontal. Avoiding all the bullets is tricky, so use your bombs (if you have any left) sparingly.
Novice/intermediate: Power or Scatter
Expert: Power or Multi-direction
AREA 9 - The Big Break:
Actually, it's not that big at all, and is just another short level. Mind you, the colourful present things (I think that's what they are anyway) look nice.
AREA 10 - Up in the Clouds:
Very similar to Area 1, only with a bit more weaving in an out to be done. The boss is identical (apart from shooting a few more bullets) to the first one.
Novice/intermediate/expert: Circle or Scatter
AREA 11 - Speed D:
The first part involves speeding down a winding tunnel. Quick reactions are needed to avoid getting crushed. After the first, original half of the level, the action calms down somewhat, and before you know it,
you're at the end of the level.
Novice/intermediate: Spread or Multiple
Expert: Spread or Laser
AREA 12 - Skull Dinners
The first thing you'll notice about this level is the background - it's smart (in a wibbly wobbly kind of way). On the way to the end of game guardian, you might recognise a few of your old 'friends'; except this time, they've lost their voices! The end boss is a skull thing that hides, and then, after it's built up the courage, will come out and try to score a few hits. Most of the time though, he prefers to let his defences (some chain/skull things) do the work. Coward.
Novice/intermediate: Spread, Multiple or Circle
Expert: Power, Spread or Circle
Throughout all the areas, power ups are available. The green egg (or capsule) will power up your weapon by one whole level, while it may take several orange capsules to increase your weapon level. The green weapon capsule can be left alone until it displays the weapon you're after. Alternatively, you can shoot it until it transforms into a smart bomb. The red weapon capsule gives you a selected weapon (the weapons are listed on the previous page) and therefore may not display the one you're looking for. You start the game with three smart bombs, but can collect more on your way. The bomb clears the screen as expected, but in a new and spectacular way. If you see a small round smiley face, collect it, as it gives you a brand spanking new extra life. At the top of this page, the capsules are displayed just so you know what they look like. Problem is, this magazine is only in black and white, so you're either going to have to pretend that the colours are what they say they are, or even better still, colour them in using crayons (or something). You may be wondering what this weapon level business is. (If not, just skip to the next paragraph.) Well, your weapon starts off at level 0 and isn't really powerful enough; but as you collect the capsules, your weapon level will go up from 0 to even 6 (very powerful). You'll need the level at 6 most of the time on the later levels if you have a chance of survival. On contact with an enemy, you lose some of your weapon. If you keep getting hit, you'll eventually lose a life, so maximum concentration advised! If this helps, collecting any capsule leaves you invulnerable for a little.
At first glance, Super Aleste reminded me of that old Amiga and MegaDrive classic - Battle Squadron; though it is quite clear that the game is a souped-up version of that PC Engine favourite - Gunhed.
Although this is just a shoot 'em up, there are several nice extras bolted on for good measure. The graphics are certainly superior to 97% of other 'professional' shoot 'em ups, being colourful and suiting the style of the game nicely. Not only are the graphics well drawn, but also well animated (if a little unoriginal). Some of the attack formations are clever, too.
Mode-7 is also there to complement the action, with some great ideas being used. Want examples? You've got 'em...
1: The second level involves a spaceship complete with massive gun turrets, cannons and things. The screen scrolls around the action taking you to each corner of the ship and eventually leading you to the control area. To add just that little extra, the programmers allowed the spaceship to scale off into the distance, before taking you to the desired area where you can then start pumping out those bullets.
2: Some of the levels have a swirly background, as mentioned before. I'm not too sure whether these actually use the Mode-7 chip, but they do look nice.
3: The boss of Area 7 is a tasty treat. For more information, see the previous page.
4: The 'Break' option in the options screen has some nice Mode-7...
5: Er... and the end-sequence has a bit, too! (Actually I think that's quite enough Mode-7 to be going on with.)
The last boss doesn't use Mode-7 at all, but one nice feature it does possess is the way it appears onto the screen; firstly using a sort of fade, then translucency, followed by more translucency, and some more colour fades. Mmm... it looks so nice, and makes other shoot 'em ups look as though they've been designed using the ultra-low quality Mario Paint. Yes.
The graphics are good, then, but what about the sound? As we all know, sound can make or break a game. It's all very nice having flashy graphics and over-the-top presentation, but what would a game be without a stonking soundtrack or two? Or without explosions that blow up the monitor (or if you haven't caught up with the technology yet, a television)? Nothing,
that's what; so thankfully Super Aleste rocks along in fine style with some very nice soundtracks (my favourites being on Areas 7 and 12, but let's not go into detail) and decent sound to boot. The only downfall with the sound is the speech.
As I have a lot of space left, I'll explain what I mean (yes, I know this is going to be totally pointless)...
Multiple Shot sounds like 'mahultiple s-hot'
Laser sounds like 'later' or 'lacer'
Multi-Direction Shot is said with much enthusiasm
Missile sounds like 'ma-hissile'
Scatter Shot 'Dahta s-hot'
And goodness knows what the 'Handy shot' weapon is; I've never heard it being used in the game, so why's it in the Sound-test option? Perhaps it's a secret weapon that no-one knows about, and maybe you have to shoot loads of baddies in a secret sequence to activate it.
Oh, and have you noticed something? SNES speech always sounds so muffled. Just listen to Super Tennis or Street Fighter 2 to see (or rather hear) what I mean. The speech always sounds as if it's been badly sampled. Maybe it's me spoilt by such crystal clear speech from Amiga games such as Pinball Dreams. The Super NES has got a PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) chip and everything, so why has the speech quality always been so poor? Is it the lack of memory perhaps? Programmers sort this out.
Am I supposed to be writing a review of Super Aleste ? I am? Sorry, going a little off the track there. So then, SA looks great, and sounds good, but how well does it play? Well, like most console games, it plays very well. The controls are responsive and the scrolling is smooth; combine these with the nice graphical touches, the weapons, and the fact that there is almost, absolutely, hardly any, slow-down at all, whatsoever (I've only spotted a bit on the later level with loads of bullets and the Tricky difficulty setting), and you have a game with creamy gameplay. If you resist the infinite continues (try your best), you will find Super Aleste has a strong challenge and will be a game you will keep returning to until you have conquered the highest difficulty setting of them all - Wild. For softies, there's even a cut-down version of the game, featuring small, redesigned levels and little challenge. This short mode is best used for practise and to try out all the weapons etc.; but crank the difficulty up to maximum, don't use any continues, and select the proper game, and you have a
challenge that will last you for weeks, months or years even.
Super Aleste is a brilliant shoot 'em up. It's colourful, packed with detail and is a game you will keep returning to (in actual fact, as I am writing this review, I have my eyes glued to the SNES and SA), and while I wouldn't say Super Aleste's the best shoot 'em up ever (that award still goes to SWIV - it's more polished, has even more detail, loads of statistics and things, and even a 2-player - something I would have liked Super Aleste to have had), but if you forked out the £40-45 asking-price for it, you wouldn't be at all disappointed. I'd say Super Aleste is the best shoot 'em up ever on the Super Nintendo, and I would recommend it without hesitation. Now where is my joypad...?
For all those interested, Toho are now working on a gold game. Hurrumph. Why not a sequel to Aleste, Toho?