AXELAY / Konami / SNES

O.K. next up is Axelay, which is a weird little shooter mostly remembered for its level 1 music.

There's six levels and they alternate between this strange top-down style which looks like they took the backgrounds and rotated them over a cylinder using Mode 7, and then a standard side-scrolling Gradius style.

Yeah I'm not sure if you were supposed to have 3D glasses or something for the odd-numbered levels, but the effect is really more just unusual than it is impressive.

Let's talk about the game's mechanics. Each level begins with you at this weapon load-out screen where you pick your guns, though at the beginning you're stuck with the three most generic ones. You get a new weapon or two at the end of each level. Gameplay is very simple, one button to fire and the shoulder buttons cycle through your weapons.

Despite the simple set-up the game is goofy hard. The later levels are a little more interesting than the first but probably 50% of the people who play this game won't ever find that out. The game gives you a bunch of weapons that fire straight forward, and then punishes you whenever you try to line up with something to shoot it by either ramming something into you or unleashing some barrage in your face.

Yeah when you are getting your ass kicked like two minutes into the first level on Easy mode your game might just be a little bit over the edge. Also on the weapons - your only other early option is this butterfly wave gun thing that is so impractical as to be almost useless except in a few certain circumstances. Also, some of the later "advanced" weapons they give you actually suck harder than the starting ones, it's easy to go into some new level with new weapons and then find out you just got a bunch of shitty missiles that fire slowly and can't hit anything - thus burning one of your few credits.

Yeah, if ever a game screamed out for the Konami Code it's this one, but to no avail. I think a thirty-life code would actually be just about right to make the game reasonable to beat. There is an invincibility code which has to be like the most laughably easy one to turn on in the history of gaming, so you can make the game either way too easy or way too hard but there's not much in between.

Ultimately, I don't think Axelay is either fun or exciting enough to merit putting up with it's difficulty and perfectionist demands.

Yeah, apparently one of the guys who was a lead designer on this one broke off from Konami and went on to found Treasure, the penultimate company of emphasizing graphical gimmicks over balanced gameplay.

Hey, what a surprise.

Links :

Axelay Soundtrack (mp3)

Videos :

Gameplay Video