Voodoo - Consider this my next submission for the review section
Last Hope - Neo Geo CD
Having just recently lucked out and picked up a copy of Last Hope for half the going rate on a lucky ebay bid, I am not the proud owner of Last Hope for Neo Geo CD.
Having read reviews that went both pro / con on Last Hope, I wanted to throw my two (maybe three) cents in the fray.
Gameplay - Last Hope is the definition of 'Tactical Shooter.' There is absolutely zero chance you can just blast your way through the levels, hoping for the best.
Each and every segment requires visual memorization of attack patterns. You can breeze through a few continues easily on one checkpoint in any level before you can progress, but once you get the pattern down, you can finish a level on a single life.
Much like R-Type, you are given a 'partner ship' that you can rotate clockwise and counter clockwise, allowing you to block certain enemy projectiles. This adds an extra layer of complexity, forcing you to monitor both your ships placement on the screen, as well as your 'partner ship' and its usefulness to you.
Bullets fly everywhere, and sometimes do get hidden by the enemy debris that flies when an adversary is destroyed, upping the frusturation factor a bit. Short of this minor oversight, the gameplay is extremely solid.
Much like Pulstar, when you complete a level in Last Hope you really feel you have met an accomplishment. Sure its a ton of work keeping track of your ship, your 'partner ship' and everything else on screen at once, but when everything 'clicks' you really breeze through the stages and enjoy every bit of it.
The only disapointing point of the entire game are the boss battles. Anti-climatic and not very much 'fun'. Given the rush you get playing through the stage to get to the boss, some battles can be won within 10 or so seconds, really making these confrontations feel tacked on. Luckily its so much fun getting to the bosses, you barely even notice this downfall.
Note : The NGCD version of Last Hope contains both the original AES release, as well as the Dreamcast version. The AES version is a **** in difficulty, and I cannot progress past stage two. Its the most challenging game I have played yet on the NGCD. The NGCD version of the game is more 'arcade' oriented, allowing your ship to travel faster and take a few hits before you die. The Dreamcast mode is a blend of both versions, and is what I based this review on.
Control - Last Hope is much better oriented to use the Original or New Joysticks, and not the CD pads. They work, but the fact that the buttons arent A-D on the CD pads means your fingers need way too much travel to play. Very hard to rotate your 'partner ship' with the cd pad orientation.
Short of that, the control is solid and spot on. Strangely enough the D button allows you to fast forward the game. Why, I do not know? It has yet to prove useful to me.
Graphics - Last Hope doesn't feel like a homebrew game at all. Its very polished and commercial in its appearance, with excellent sprites and backgrounds across the entire game.
There are some very nice visual effects in the game, and it all runs without a hint of slowdown that I have seen.
I'd put it between Last Resort and Pulstar on the 'impressive scale'. Last Hope is an asset for the NGCD platform.
Audio - A full cd soundtrack accompanies Last Hope, and its all very well orchestrated and fits the game accordingly. Its a blend of synth techno and bass with some sci-fi mixed in, and its a pleasure to listen to.
There are only 8 tracks though, so it does get a bit repetitive after some time.
Packaging - I generally wouldn't spend the time reviewing the actual packaging of any game, as its really the gameplay that matters.
Yet in the instance of Last Hope, the fact its a new release and priced around 80 USD new, you really want to feel you purchased something that deserves a spot on your game shelf.
The developers did an excellent job making this look as close to a genuine release as possible without infringing on SNK's intellectual properties. Professional printing, a fun to look at but inconsiquential manual, and an excellent disc print really tie the whole package together.
Including in Last Hope is a special dvd which shows you some tactics videos, development insights, and a 1 life superplay through the entire game. Fun to have and quite useful.
The ONLY downside is the spine card. It's produced out of a cardboard stock, and does not match ANY spine card I have ever seen material wise. It really doesnt fit the case very well at all. An odd choice of materials in the end!
Overall - Last Hope has gotten a bad rep from some people. That stems in part from the fact that the developers are selling a Neo Geo AES cart version for well over six hundred dollars, and sacrificing an AES shell to produce the game itself. The price, as well as the fact they need to use parts from other AES games (and these shells are precious) , has really rubbed the Neo Geo community the wrong way in some instances. My review doesn't factor the above details in, as I wanted the game to be viewed on its technical merits alone.
Last Hope is a challenging and entertaining schmup which holds up well against the commercial schmup releases on the Neo Geo platform. Given the fact its a homebrew game, its even more impressive.
The longevity is great as well. With the inclusion of three different game modes, there is a ton of different ways to play, each more difficult than the next.
Its a brand new game for us NGCD fanatics to enjoy, and I fully recommend picking up a copy if you can