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Iridion 3D

Score: 65%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Shin'en
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Iridion 3D looks sharper than any other game you'll find on the Gameboy Advance right now. Why is that? It's because the game uses a nice trick--looping animation--to make the world look much nicer than the GBA itself could show. Sure, you can tell that the graphics loop, but they definitely look nice. The enemies and debris are all scaled sprites, which is a nice and smooth effect, with none of the jerkiness that's usually in these sorts of pseudo-3D games.

The music comes out just as sharp as the graphics--chippy, solid, and matching the mood of the game. It reminded me of Axelay, not necessarily composition-wise; just the way that it feels. While the Gameboy Advance is still a little tinny, it's a vast improvement over the old Gameboy sound chip, and this game proves it. It sounds better with headphones, to be sure.


Gameplay:

Unfortunately, while the graphics and the sound are both top-notch in Iridion 3D, the gameplay is subpar at best and downright frustrating at worst. With a confusing 3D view, a severe lack of interesting weapons, and annoying controls, you'll find yourself longing for the better-balanced shooters of yore before you get very far into Iridion 3D.

The object of the game is identical to the object of every shooter you've ever played--destroy everything that moves, pick up power-ups, defeat bosses, save the universe. Whatever. The game makes uses of a 'flying into the screen' view which is reminiscent of Space Harrier. Things come out of the far-away centre and fly towards you; sometimes you have to dodge it, sometimes you need to shoot it.

There's a little bit more to the game, but that's almost everything there is to know. You have an energy meter that gets depleted as you get hit; different attacks do differing amounts of damage. You can regain energy by picking up power-ups inside the levels. You can also upgrade your weapons, although you probably won't even notice this happening until you've played the game a few times.

The levels themselves are generally straightforward affairs. You may have to dodge an occasional pillar of fire or zoom down a tunnel, but for the most part you have a big 'box' you can fly to the edges of [a la StarFox] and you wail on the trigger button, hoping to destroy the enemies. After you fly through a level, you'll encounter a boss, who has the inevitable sweet-spot that you must attack.

The problem is that it's just not fun. Your bullets never ever go where you want them to--they tend to aim towards the centre of the screen whether you like it or not, which can be amazingly frustrating when you have to clip an enemy that's close to you and moving around. The weapons themselves are uniformly unimpressive, and chances are good that you'll barely be able to distinguish between them. You die too easily, and this mostly comes from the fact that you really can't tell how far away things are, and it's very easy to collide into them without thinking you will.


Difficulty:

Iridion 3D is challenging, but the difficulty comes more from the annoying limitations the game puts on you--no 'bombs', no really interesting weapons, and the fact that you can never tell when something's going to hit you. The challenge is purely artificial, which is very frustrating. Sure, you can make it through the levels if you persevere, but will you even bother? Doubtful.

Game Mechanics:

You use the D-Pad to move, and the B button to shoot. Really. That's it. No switching of weapons, no special attacks, just firing straight ahead. The game never gets beyond this sort of 'intro level shooter' style, which definitely hurts the experience. More painful than the lack of weapon complexity is the handicap given to you because of the confusing perspective. I regularly thought I was dodging bullets and enemies when in fact I collided with them; the fact that you obstruct the view of the enemies you're trying to kill doesn't help much either. The 'menu', such as it is, is easy to navigate. [And cool, too.]

Iridion 3D may look pretty, and it may sound pretty, but once you sit down and play with it for a while, you'll realize that the game itself is not pretty at all. Repetitive, unoriginal, and downright annoying, Iridion 3D promises good things but only delivers on the presentation. There's just not enough variety or excitement here to make it worth trudging through.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Nintendo GameBoy Advance Earthworm Jim Nintendo GameBoy Advance Pac-Man Collection

 
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