Review Shooter

Gleylancer – Review

The Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis to some of you) was one hell of a little machine. Not just home to some of Sega’s finest first-party titles, but also the landing zone for some of the best shoot-em-ups of that generation. Games like Sagaia, Musha, and Thunderforce paved the way for generations to come. Gleylancer is another one of those ‘90s legends, and it has finally been ported over to modern hardware.

Gleylancer - Orange

Board The Advanced Busterhawk!

Gleylancer stands out in many areas, although most interestingly is in its story. For the first time ever, Gleylancer has been fully translated into English, so we Westerners can finally sus what’s actually going on in the gorgeous, early ‘90s anime-styled cutscenes. It’s nothing special, just a standard rescue mission with a sprinkling of drama, but it’s a nice inclusion nonetheless.

Story aside, Gleylancer gives you a plethora of options in how to play, such as selecting your orbital weapon type. You can have them move and fire in all sorts of ways, and each variant mixes up the gameplay nicely. Having your weapons linked to your movement one run, only to change to an auto-targeting system the next leads to very different experiences.

It’s not all about the orbitals of course, and Gleylancer has a myriad of weapon pickups. All the genre-regulars are here, such as straight shots and bouncing bullets, but the game also brings things like lightsabers (mounted on a spaceship…) and flamethrowers. Each weapon has its uses, and picking up the right tool at the right time can make the whole process a smidge smoother.

Greylancer - Story

Lengthy And Accessible

The horizontal gameplay itself is top-notch in Gleylancer. The game takes place over 11 medium-length stages ranging from navigating asteroid belts, to assaulting enemy fleets. No two stages really feel the same, and the game throws in some spanners to keep things interesting and to help maintain a semblance of pace. Gleylancer is 2x longer than your standard shoot-em-up, and whilst it does feel longer, it never really dragged. 

Gleylancer is also pretty easy to play on its standard difficulty, making it rather accessible. Enemies don’t have too much health, bullet density is on the lower end, and bosses are fun, but not overbearing in their challenge. This does mean that more experienced players may find the game a bit too slow, but that’s where Hard and Mania come into play. Both of which dial up the intensity and, similar to the orbital options, do enough to keep multiple playthroughs feeling fresh.

The core Gleylancer package is great, but it does come with a bit of an Achilles heel – the scoring. It exists in Gleylancer, but it is incredibly basic. So basic in fact, that score chasing is almost disincentivized. This is made more obvious by the lack of online leaderboards. Gleylancer gets by on its satisfying gameplay, but it would have been nice to see something added here – maybe an arrange mode of sorts.

Gleylancer - Busy

Extra Gubbins

Shoot-em-ups have gained a surprising amount of popularity in recent times, with the Nintendo Switch being home to one of the largest, and quality-filled, libraries to date. One thing that holds back many classic shoot-em-ups, however, is the port quality. Either running with horrendous input lag, lacking quality of life features, or generally lacking in terms of modern tweaking. Gleylancer does not fall into this trap.

Gleylancer comes with a myriad of options to mess around with, such as setting wallpapers, tweaking the aspect ratio, and all that jazz. It also comes with a rewind feature, allowing players to practice – or retry – certain sections instantly. On top of this, it packs save states. Practicing in Gleylancer has never been easier.

It doesn’t end there, however. Unique to this version, is an entirely revamped control scheme that utilizes the wonders of modern technology to bring a whole new way to play. Gleylancer always had plenty of control options, each of which changed up the game significantly. The addition of a twin-stick mode serves to expand upon its already substantial options. Selecting modern play also allows you to change control schemes on the fly, as well as alter your ship’s base movement speed at will. Modern Gleylancer is all about freedom, and it all comes together nicely. The best part is, you can turn the modern stuff off and play in Classic mode if that’s what you prefer. Best of both worlds.

Gleylancer - Boss

Presentation 

Visually Gleylancer is a bit of a mixed bag. Some stages look fantastic, others look a bit rushed, or barren. Your ship – the Advanced Busterhaw – looks pretty bland too, bordering on generic. The game does make heavy use of parallax scrolling, however, which is always a treat to see, and when Gleylancer looks great, it really is top of its class. A final niggle is a tendency for enemy bullets to blend into the background or get lost in the chaos. Deaths can come seemingly out of nowhere, which is never a good feeling.

Gleylancer does rock a banging soundtrack at least, with some slapping tunes courtesy of the Mega Drive. Music runs the gamut when it comes to setting the tone of any mission, but it really shines when the bass gets going and the head gets bopping.

Verdict

Gleylancer is a fantastic shoot-em-up that holds up to today’s standards. It also puts the vast majority of classic shoot-em-up ports to shame. The game has no noticeable input delay, it has loads of options for play, it adds in quality of life features, and it even throws in a modern control scheme for kicks. Sure the scoring system is a bit naff, but everything else here is golden. 

GLEYLANCER IS RECOMMENDED

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

If you would like to see more Shooters, you may be interested in our review of Cotton Reboot.

Many thanks go to Ratalaika Games for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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