|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Milestone||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: UFO||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In recent years the arcade shooter has made quite the comeback, and the latest attempt to capitalize on this trend is a three-game compilation called the Ultimate Shooting Collection. These titles don't follow the format of Asteroids, where you can move and shoot in all directions within a fixed area, like the groundbreaking Geometry Wars did. Rather, these are scrolling shooters in the mold of Defender, where you can move your ship wherever you'd like on the screen, but it always faces in the same direction as enemies and scenery fly by. Interestingly, you can play the games horizontally (like Defender) or vertically (like Galaga).
The three shooters have a lot in common, starting with the control scheme. The A button fires, and you'll pretty much always hold it down, as these games sit firmly in the "bullet hell" tradition and don't restrict ammo. The B button operates a "sword" that sweeps around your ship, hurting enemies and sometimes eliminating bullets. The C button executes a special move, typically a shield. Give or take a few title-specific nuances (you can choose from different ships with different guns, and sometimes you can do other moves by pressing two buttons at once), that's pretty much all it takes to play these games.
You can play with the Wii-mote and Nunchuk (why switch controllers after starting the game up?), the Wii-mote and Classic Controller, or a GameCube controller. All work equally well, though it's extremely annoying that if you have a GameCube controller plugged in (as many to most Wii owners probably do, even when they're not using it), the game won't respond to Wii controller inputs at all. The first time we booted up the collection, we thought there was something wrong with our copy. ("'Press any button'? I just tried every button! What the $#%&?")
All the games also have a variety of adjustable difficulty parameters. These are arcade-style shoot-'em-ups, with quarter-munching bosses that throw loads of garbage at you, so you'll want to set your armor to high and the challenge to "easy." Even then, don't expect to get very far until you learn each game's nuances, as you begin with a whopping two continues. It's beyond us why the developers wouldn't have included continues as an adjustable parameter; infinite lives are no fun in an arcade game, as they remove any incentive not to die, but allowing up to five or so ships would have been nice for beginners who want to see the entirety of the games.
On to the specifics. The arcade/Japan-only Dreamcast classic Radirgy, also known as Radio Allergy (not believing in consistency, the developers used the former name on the game-select screen but the latter on the in-game title screen), has the nicest look: it's cel-shaded, with Super Nintendo-grade bare-bones graphics and an anime/mecha aesthetic. The (annoying, poorly translated, and unnecessary) text dialogue is in English, but many of the landmarks you fly past still have foreign characters on them. It's also the most unique and childish title here, as one of the planes you can choose shoots bubbles - yes, bubble bullets. All of this is set to a grating, happy-go-lucky, synth beat.
Radirgy's scoring scheme is also worthy of mention. Enemies killed at short range with the sword will give you more points, and they fill the gauge that powers your C-button shield more quickly. You can keep killing enemies with your shield deployed, which earns you still more shield time; this is crucial for not only racking up points but also getting through some of the boss battles. You'll be doing lots of short-range killing, and you'll need that shield a lot, because Radirgy throws loads of dangerous garbage your way.