Friday, March 9, 2012

Game of the Day - Ryu Jin

Space bugs, why did it have to be space bugs?  Ryu Jin is a very obscure vertical shooter from Taito in which you are attacked by all of Bugkind.  But they are mostly cool looking and colorful little suckers.  It's a pretty standard mid-90s vert shooter that's a lot of fun to play.

The graphics are very, very nice.  They are varied within the levels and more so from level-to-level.  They are very reliant on the backgrounds which are mostly uber bright and colorful.  Many times, in shooters like these, I don't like if the background has too much stuff or color because it makes it hard to see what's going on - this is not the case in Ryu Jin, somehow they tread the fine line and the backgrounds just make it more interesting and fun to look at without muddying the gameplay.

You have some traditional controls in Ryu Jin, a fire button and a bomb button.  The fire button can be held down for a charged shot.  In fact, the charged shots wind up pretty darn similar to the bombs, so that's a little bit unimaginative.  But, one nice thing about charging up is that in addition to a gauge that shows you when your charged shot is ready, there is also a subtle audio cue.  Thus, you don't have to watch your gauge to know when to let go of the button, the audio lets you know sufficiently - that's a nice touch that makes the game a little easier.

You start with three "lives", but the lives aren't exactly used in the same way as most vert shooters.  There are indicators (blue blocks) of your lives (or hit points) in the lower left.  When you take a hit, one is subtracted but things continue just as they were in the game.  In most games of this era, you are "respawned" and given a new set of bombs when you die.  Not in Ryu Jin.  You simply have a life block taken away and keep fighting - so you can't count on a moment's rest or additional super weapons as compensation for dying.  So really, the lives function more like one continuous life force as in some other games.

There are some nice power-ups you'll find in the game, my favorite of which is "big".  Your ship gets big, powerful and temporarily indestructible.

Lastly, a feature that I like that I've mentioned before in other GOTDs is also employed here...  When you lose all your lives and choose to continue your game, the "ones" digit of your score is increased by one.  That way, when you look at the high score table, you simply have to look at the last digit to see how many continues were used in order to achieve the score.  Nice way to put the scores into perspective - especially with the giant scores that can be achieved when you don't have to jam quarters in the machines in the world of Mame.

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