I have a genuine passion for shooters, I really do, but I have a confession to make – as the years roll by I’m becoming increasingly less skilled. My reflexes just aren’t as sharp as they used to be – and while I love the likes of eXceed, Touhou, DoDonPachi etc, the chances of a 1cc on those games are long, long gone for me. : (
Ether Vapor Remaster on the other hand gives me hope! Not because it’s easy – far from it actually – but because it’s a decidedly less stressful game to play than your average bullet hell shooter.
It’s also much easier on the eye and probably one of the most cinematic shooters I’ve played in some time. The camera swooping and rolling to take in a number of perspectives – side scrolling, vertical, third-person – the constant mixing up of perspectives is as refreshing as it is seamless and really sets this apart from other doujin shooters. It feels like the production values are huge a step up from what you’d normally expect.
Likewise, the effects – like bullet sparks on impact, and enemy ship models and attacks – make this quite the beauty. I know I shouldn’t be a graphics whore when it comes to these kinds of things, but… well, I really am on occasion – and this is one of those occasions! Ether Vapor is, hands down, the prettiest doujin shooter I’ve ever played – even going so far as to rival ‘bigger’ commercial shooters.
In terms of mechanics, it’s pleasantly simple but also surprisingly versatile with it. You have three shot types. A forward firing weapon as standard, a spread shot which fires of at angles to the side and a weaker, lock-on attack which picks out enemies automatically – letting you concentrate on not getting to hit while still dealing some damage.
Deftly switching between the three shot types is key to clearing the stages unscathed but also for taking down the games bosses, which I hasten to add, prove to be very enjoyable encounters in their own right – rather than irritating peaks of frustrating difficulty which can so often mark the genre.
Progress then, comes down to a mixture of memory and competent reflexes – not the God-like precision required from many Bullet Hell shooters. You’ll die plenty of course – the game is not unchallenging – but it will only take a handful of deaths at each juncture for you to get the patterns down and to be able to enjoy the sensation of progress – and as a result I feel Ether Vapor is all the better for that.
Quite often I find that the higher the difficulty of a shooter, the more I’m just concentrating on the clear paths of safety between bullets that must be negotiated to survive – rather than actually enjoying the ride itself. In Ether Vapor Remaster, you’re given just enough breathing room to be able to admire the game’s visuals and enjoy the exhilaration of the journey you’re undertaking.
I think this idea of ‘The Journey’ has been lost from so many shooters these days – R-Type, Gradius, Thunderforce, even games like Satazius hold this dear – and the same can be said for Ether Vapor. In this respect, it’s a really, beautifully executed and orchestrated blast and one well worth a look for shooter fans who can’t necessarily face another relentless curtain of bullets or simply want a more of a classic arcade experience and a change of pace.
Ether Vapor Remaster is available to download from our store here!