|Title - Sturmwind|
|Japanese Title - シタームビント|
|Developer - Duranik|
Catalogue No. - TBA
|Type - Horizontal Shooter|
Where to begin? Well, as I said to Duranik, Sturmwind wouldn’t look out of place if it was released on the XBOX 360 under Arcade Live. It really does look that good. The use of fully animated pre-rendered backgrounds along with many graphical effects often only seen in demo scene tech demos really do make this one if not the most beautiful 2D Dreamcast game ever made. The attention to detail not only in the background but also to the enemy craft is amazing and don’t get me started on the boss characters. Man, they are massive and easily rival and sometimes surpass Cave’s efforts in games such as Death Smiles.
So we know Sturmwind looks like a dream but that means nothing if it plays poorly. Thankfully it doesn’t. The team behind Sturmwind certainly know their shooters and you can clearly see this with all the inspired ideas taken from games such as Axelay, R-Type, Gradius, Thunder Force and so on. So first let’s talk about the weapon system. You start the game with a choice of 3 weapons being a Vulcan type that’s heavily inspired by Axelay in that you can spread the fire around your craft by holding or releasing the fire button. A wider spread / wave style shot and the good old green laser style shot. Each can be fired forwards or backwards thanks to a quick tap on the weapon direction button which soon becomes a necessary part of the game play mechanics. That’s not to say the game is crazily hard but more that it has you on your toes at times.
Each weapon can be powered up by power-up icons dropped after destroying certain enemies. Every icon dropped is the same, however by shooting them they will change power property allowing you to charge up each individual weapon type. Make sure to have the correct weapon type equipped before collecting the power up icon though, otherwise it will be wasted. You’re craft is also equipped with 1 smart bomb (more can be collected throughout the levels) that not only kills everything on screen but also looks amazing. If you thought the explosions in Psyvariar 2, Border Down or Under Defeat looked good then you’ve seen nothing yet. Finally, your ship can be equipped with option drones. I would say these are like the ones found in Gradius but to be honest they’re more like the ones found in R-Type. The drones can be set to fire forwards or backwards. This comes in very handy for when things start to get a bit busy.
So we’ve talked about the arsenal used within Sturmwind but what about the game you use them in? Well, there are 2 modes of play being Normal mode and Arcade mode. The arcade mode consists of 6 levels for you to blast through with no continues. This may seem a bit tough but to be honest it isn’t. Sturmwind was developed for all gamers, beginners to professionals. I reached the 4th level on my first try on normal level setting. The Arcade mode sure is fun but the real game comes in the shape of the Normal Mode. This mode consists of 16 levels!! Don’t worry, they’re not all long scrolling levels. Some levels may only contain a big boss type battle. Going through the whole normal game in one sitting is a bit too much and it seems Duranik knew this. So they’ve added the option to continue from the last level you played at or any previous completed level with full life count and smart bomb. This certainly makes the Normal mode a lot easier to get to grasps with for the novice gamer.
At first, you’d be forgiven in thinking the backgrounds in Sturmwind are far too busy leading you to crash in to enemies and not know what ground objects can and can’t be touched. And to be honest I thought that way too at first. I think it’s due to the shear awe in seeing the Dreamcast pull off such wonderful visuals. Once you start to take your eyes away from the beautiful eye candy and concentrate on the game do you realize that you are playing a highly addictive and challenging shooter. Fans on bullet hell Cave style games may not be too happy with what is on offer here as Sturmwind is geared more towards the more traditional style of shooters and I for one am glad of this. That’s not to say there’s no memorization to be had as with Cave shooters. Oh no, there’s plenty of that if you play on the more higher difficulty levels. Just don’t expect a screen jam packed full of colourful tinny balls with hidden narrow paths through them all.
There are many homebrew shooters on the Dreamcast but none come anywhere near the level of professional finish that this game has. Don’t put your nose up thinking this is just another cheaply made homebrew game, it’s not. As I said at the beginning, this game could easily feel perfectly at home on XBOX Live or PSN. That’s how good it is. Duranik have even gone to the trouble of adding trophy achievements and unlockable bonus material to give the game a more modern appeal. Add in the VGA compatibility, Rumble / Buru Buru Pack compatibility, SD Card support for bonus and future contents, internet WEB code Hi-score tables, 3 level settings, fully configurable controls, adjustable screen position and full digital or analogue controls and you have yourself one extremely polished product.
Support Duranik by buying Sturmwind. You’ll not only be helping out a homebrew developer but also be buying a quality game that would have no problem standing up to shooters made by the big boys in the world of shumps.
So now that you’ve read my views on Sturmwind, why not check out the video !