Satazius

There aren’t very many places in the UK where you can truly enjoy arcade shooters, at least, not anymore. Rock up to a cabinet, park yourself, pop in a coin and shoot things until your spaceship is blown to pieces by overwhelming numbers of enemies… ahh, there’s nothing quite like it.

Satazius makes me long for a really huge and awkward cabinet because the experience of playing it is so authentically arcade it’s almost painful. I feel almost like I’m cheating by not putting in lots of coins, and this is definitely the kind of game you would put lots of coins in. It reminds me of 50p coins blown playing Gradius’s many incarnations, or my favourite, Raiden.

The game is a retro-chic arcade side-scrolling shooter, with masses of weapons, masses of enemies on the ground and in the air and masses of flying bullets. The screen scrolls along relentlessly, forcing you to manouever your little ship through tight gaps. Squeeze through collapsing enemy towers that will block the screen if you don’t, or navigate caves with only a split second to choose a path because you’re being pursued by a massive ship with big cannons. It’s fast-paced, frantic and an absolute joy to play.

The game starts with you choosing your weapons and there is a huge arsenal, giving great variety to the gameplay. Thankfully as well there are several difficulty levels to choose from for the rookie to the hardcore which you might be glad for when you see the size of the bosses you have to face. But before you even get there, you have to dodge or shoot a heap of enemies. It’s not quite bullet hell because of the weapon choices, the option to customise your ship and the lengthy but varied stages with multiple hazards. If a giant laser doesn’t kill you, slamming into a rock wall because you weren’t fast enough probably will. Also, you should have chosen a gun that shoots behind as well as forward to try and hit that thing coming up from the rear.

Playing Satazius is a great deal of fun, and there’s such obvious love for the genre in it that it’s no surprise to see 2/3 of the development team list Gradius as one of their favourite games. Yes, there are only three of them – Satazius is a doujin game. The game is available on Rice Digital for £3.99, which is ridiculously good value for such a polished and pleasurable indie package straight from Japan. You can also find the game on Steam.


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