The NeoGeo consoles were the objects of many a young lad’s dream back in the 90s. With graphical and audio abilities far superior to anything else on the market, the prices were sky high (an AES cost in excess of $650) and as such were seen as the cream of the crop. Many franchises found fame on NeoGeo consoles, and the protagonists of these have all come together for a fight in the PSP game ‘NeoGeo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting’.
The story is a simple one; throughout the ages there have been many fighters bestowed with the title ‘hero’, but who is the strongest? To find out, Professor Brown Sugar invented a time machine and got all the heroes together for an almighty bout of fisticuffs. It was a monumental battle, but at its peak an evil corporation named ‘DAMNED’ appeared and tried to steal all the fighter’s powers. DAMNED were eventually vanquished, but fearing what might happen in the future Sugar froze his time machine. Fifteen years have passed; DAMNED have returned; the heroes must once again be summoned to battle.
NGH: US is a top down ‘bullet hell’ shooter but instead of featuring the usual spacecraft, you control one of ten classic NeoGeo characters who have been gifted the power of flight. Using their inner power they can fire projectiles to clear the levels of enemies – of which there will be hundreds. The character list is as follows:
- Iroha from Samurai Shodown VI
- Marco Rossi from Metal Slug
- Akari Ichijo from Last Blade
- Athena Asamiya from Psycho Soldier/The King of Fighters
- Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury
- Mai Shiranui from Fatal Fury
- Kyo Kusanagi from The King of Fighters
- Iori Yagami from The King of Fighters
- Kula Diamond from The King of Fighters
- SYDIII from Armored Scrum Object.
Each fighter has a different style of attack, plus three special moves. For example some fighters have wide spread but weaker fire, whilst others will have a narrow beam that is more powerful. You can charge special moves by holding the square button, although you can’t fire a normal shot while doing so. You are also gifted a limited amount of bombs, which are extremely powerful and will inflict screen-wide damage. Pressing triangle will also invoke a state of ‘provocation’, where your firepower becomes stronger for a short period of time.
‘NeoGeo Heroes’ is the main mode, and sees you choose a character and play through their story arc. Clearing a level involves blasting though waves upon waves of enemies to try and get a high score. At the end you’ll fight one of the characters from the game’s roster. Rather than just progressing from level to level, you can choose multiple paths that will dictate what boss you will fight next, as well as the final boss you fight. There are unlimited credits, but every time you use a continue your score resets back to zero. This mode plays well, and fans of the genre will feel immediately at home learning all the attack patterns whilst weaving in and out of what seems to be an impossible amount of bullets.
‘Survival’ is essentially a ‘boss rush’ mode that sees you consecutively fight off bosses. When you defeat one, another appears with a strength increase. ’Subject’ sees you given a set number of challenges to complete per level to earn emblems. This is a tough mode, and whilst you will undoubtedly pick up some of the easier emblems, you’ll have to work your socks off for the others. As a special treat the arcade game ‘KOF Sky Stage’ is included, which was the first ever game to feature the King of Fighters characters in a top-down shooter.You can also play this game in co-op.
So, this all sounds great right? Well there are a few issues; the main one being the price. £15.99 for what looks like a slightly beefed up SNES game is a bit much. Whilst the inclusion of NeoGeo characters is nice, the game fails to bring anything new to the table. Shooters have moved on significantly over the last few years, with games such as ‘Ikaruga’ showing how it should be done. NGH: US feels like it has been lifted straight from the early 90s. There are also a few framerate issues that slow things down to a crawl, normally during a boss fight when pinpoint weaving is essentially.
- Solid shooting mechanic
- NeoGeo fighters all differ
- Several modes
- High price
- Framerate issues
- Nothing new brought to the table
NGH: US is an enjoyable experience. Fans of the genre will find lots to like, but then they will also be the first to spot every single fault. What it all boils down to is how likely it will be that you will return to the game to beat your high scores, as the main modes won’t see you much past the two and a half to three hour mark.