Retro Game of the Day! Axelay
Axelay by Konami, a Super NES release from the fine year of 1992. Yup, it's another shooter!
So what is the deal with this game then? Where the hell do they get these names? I mean what is an Axelay, anyway? Is it a guy chewing food trying to say "actually?" Oh who cares. Let's talk about the game!
A strange shooter by one of the kings of the shooting scene (after all, Konami are the developers of Gradius), the game received much fanfare leading up to its release due to the fact that it eschewed normal shooter presentation and took particular advantage of the SNES' Mode 7 capabilities - for those uninformed amongst you, this was the hardware's ability to perform powerful scaling and rotation functions akin to what one would see in the arcades during this period. It was seldom scene on consoles otherwise.
Rather than going for the straight-forward After Burner presentation (1st person into-the-screen) or top-down like Space Megaforce, Axelay gave the player an angled presentation to work with, sort of a mix of the two. The effect was.. strange, and difficult to adjust to. After a little while it felt like the background was a flat image being rolled along on a log in front of you, if that makes sense. It was very popular with most, but it never really gelled with me.
The other big gimmick here was that every other level was a side-view perspective, much more traditional. This I could wrap my head around! In both modes, the game utilized exceptional graphics (hey, it was Konami) and a decent, if unmemorable soundtrack.
Not an easy game, Axelay also played with the traditional method of weapons systems in a way that required a bit more strategic thought that usual. It added up to a fair degree of challenge (especially for those players who preferred to crank up the difficulty level).
Overall, a decent game, and an unusual page out of Konami's long book of shooters. Axelay was never seen nor heard from again, but its unusual presentation coupled with beautiful graphics and unique play style add up to a game which is worth a look.