This is the 2nd Dreamcast shmup I’ve received for review in the last 30 days. Who says the Dreamcast is dead? If the box art doesn’t raise a sense of nostalgia from within your soul, then nothing will.
I would have sworn that this 2D shooter was produced by a Japanese team in the 90s, but the mailing address on the package label told me otherwise. Truth be told, the masterminds behind this 90s arcade inspired shmup are two German brothers, Timm René Hellwig, who have been running NG:Dev since 2001. This is their 5th title, and most of which have been released for the Dreamcast or Neo Geo at this point. I’ve always been interested in what inspires developers to build games on older hardware, especially at a time when platforms with large, established user bases are prevalent.
Shmups (shoot-em-ups) tend to be a very niche category as it is, nonetheless ones released on aging consoles, yet I believe NEO:XYX can still find its place in world. Make no mistake about it; this is certainly not an easy game, and memorization of bullet patterns and enemy placement is key for survival.
The control scheme is simple enough as well. One button for shoot, another for a bomb to clear most of the screen, and a final button which reduces the movement speed of the ship, but also provides more strength to your projectiles. While on the topic of projectiles, I found them far easier to discern from the background than those from my previous review of Redux: Dark Matters.
One key point which initially threw me off is the fact that enemy bullets disappear when the enemy who spawned the projectile is killed. Ultimately, you’ll want to dispose of enemies as quickly as possible, but you are never quite sure of when an enemy will be killed, so often it came down to just being at the right place at the right time.
As a child of the 80s, and one who spent much of my youth in the arcades, I found the trip back to memory lane while playing NEO: XYX to be a pleasant one. The visuals are completely accurate for others titles of the era. I mean just get a load of some of their other work, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I also enjoyed the fact that I could adjust the orientation of the screen from within the settings menu. Players can choose between between vertical and side scrolling, without ever having to physically rotate the monitor.
The lack of a difficulty setting was disheartening at first, but once I came to realize that this game was designed specifically for fans of the genre, by fans of the genre, I understood why this wasn’t present. If you have the itch for an arcade inspired shmup, then this will certainly help to scratch, and I could certainly find myself going back to play this game time and time again.
NEO:XYX was provided for review on disc by the developer and was played on Dreamcast hardware.