Omega Strike, or why Contra aliens should bone Metroids.

Omega Strike has all of the things that I like in a video game. Guns, a competent control scheme, pretty freakin’ good artwork, and a guy who is like a bear, with the strength of two bears. It’s a solid budget title and it’s worth at least taking a look at, even if there are some little nagging things that bug me.

Jump and Shoot are the name of the game in Omega Strike. You jump, and shoot. Traverse levels that are slightly too long and are put together almost haphazardly while shooting enemies that generally aren’t concerned with your presence, though, enemies that shoot tend to shoot when you’re where they can hit you, and shield guys will continue to block if you’re shooting at them, so, it’s not that the AI is terrible or anything, just… sometimes badguys are zombies, or fat zombies with chainsaws. For being inspired by metroidvanias and 2D shooters, you really get the feeling that you’re playing metroidvania and contra stuck together, without ammo, powerups, that annoying waterfall level, or aliens that eat your brain.

The graphics sold me on this game, definitely. Enemy types are clearly different from each other, and your main guy has a rifle that when fired, leaves bullet casings on the ground, all while in beautifully animated pixel art. It’s a little better than most games in the genre, and the standard enemies, bosses, and other obstacles in the level are cleverly animated. It’s really beautiful.

When you start, you have three characters you can switch between. These are basically “weapons and abilities” swaps, because your characters sort of act the same except in how they jump or shoot. I probably would have preferred to just have a single main character that could swap weapons and abilities, but hey, it’s a few more well done characters who have clear goals and objectives, with reasons to go and save them instead of just randomly finding weapons or abilities strewn about the world a la Metroid. I was hoping the game had additional characters that you could eventually run into and have join you, but, the game’s not SUPER long. That means you don’t have too much time to get bored of the things your buddies can do. Like, the fat guy pushes boxes and shoots a grenade launcher, and spaceman has a shotgun and can double jump.

I know, not huge differences in gameplay, but all 3 have distinct usefulness and certain areas where they shine over the other characters.

From a design standpoint, I feel the level design seems erratic, not in actual level building, but in the way that enemies and levels are set up. Some rooms feel much more challenging than others, and sometimes in the wrong order. I realize the world is “open”, but, much like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, there’s a natural path you’re supposed to head along, and in this game, that pacing just feels slightly off. It’s not bad, it just means you can’t trust the room’s difficulty to tell you that you’re heading in the right direction. This all forces you to pull up the map often, which, wouldn’t be that bad if it wasn’t behind the pause menu. I suggest an update where they overlay it on the screen if you hit the ol’ select button or something. (sidenote: I don’t care if it’s called a “back” button on the Xbox controller, [sidenote’s sidenote: which I’m using, actually.] because it’s been a select button since the dawn of history, which was 1985.) Another system that requires you hopping into the pause menu often is healing. You can buy healing items, but you have to pause to get into the menu to use them, and, while taking a break during a boss encounter is a good way to get back into the rhythm if you’ve lost it for a second, if you’re actually in the rhythm and doing a good job, it’s a great way to lose your timing. If there was a quickslot for healing or perhaps just a button that used your healing items “smartly” (using the weakest item that would put you at full health), you could do it during the fight without losing all those moments of jump and shoot.

I know that’s a silly complaint, but, it’s probably the only thing I could really find “wrong” with the whole game’s setup. They even let you toy around with the other characters before taking them away from you, so you go from feeling powerful to simple, and slowly regain your abilities and more later on.

As far as “more” in this game is concerned though, it seems they are just direct vertical upgrades, your bullets travel further, and do more damage, instead of a robust customization or equipment system. This is just a note, because it’s not necessary for games to have those things, even a game that takes a lot of inspiration from something like the Castlevania/Metroid style games. I prefer that additional RPG mechanical game, but, you might hate having to go into a menu to put on a new shirt, or, even see if it’s worth putting on, while I preferred it to just the direct upgrade system.

This entire game was put together by a solo game developer. My only major harumph is that each character is fully everything he’s going to be the moment you get him back, no skills to unlock or anything. The game’s $12.99, and, while jump and shoot are both simple mechanics, this game takes them and makes them feel fun again, in a 2D environment that makes me wish Megaman was still around. It’s no Megaman, don’t get me wrong, but, it’s a damn good quality game for less than 15 freedom units.

 

Get this game on Steam!

Disclosure: We received this game for free.

Developed and Published by: Woblyware

 

 

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