The Hurricane of Varstray -Collateral Hazard- certainly sounds like one hell of a storm but it is actually a vertical scrolling shoot 'em up set in space. This game has you playing as a squadron of female pilots that are on a mission to fly to the enemies base and take them out with a direct assault. The problem with this mission is that the trip is very long and is filled with enemy ships that'll do anything to stop you from accomplishing your mission. Do you have what it takes to traverse though the hellish battle zone in space and survive this suicide mission? (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).
A thing I did like about the story mode was that each character had their own unique cut-scenes and dialogue, so I gotta give them credit for adding in the effort of keeping each character adding something new to the story. Sadly, I didn't like any of the stories and I really didn't like the characters in terms of dialogue. The characters in this game just come off as very unnecessary bitchy and incredibly unlikeable, they were also very one-dimensional in character and also very generic. Not saying that there weren't any moments where the characters weren't likeable, there were some very rare moments when they indeed were.
This game also has an Arcade Mode, where you can play the game without any cut-scenes or dialogue. The gameplay is very fun with its fluid smooth controls and tight gameplay. You do start off a game with a simple laser shot but that can be upgraded into a monster of a weapon. A neat thing about the main weapon is that each character has their own unique firing pattern that were all fun to play with and adds some really nice replay value to the game. You also have a secondary weapon that's much stronger than the main weapon but it can not be upgraded, however you can collect items that'll change the secondary weapon into another weapon. Secondary weapons includes a laser beam, grenade, and my personal favorite, the lock on missiles. The secondary weapons work fine and work well in certain situations but having the wrong secondary weapon at the wrong time can be murder, so be careful.
This game has three levels of difficulty but no matter which one you pick, it's going to be a very tough game regardless. Each stage has a ton of enemies that nearly fill the screen up with projectiles and it just gets tougher as it goes along but lucky for you, the bullets are much more easy to avoid than it looks. You are given a decent hit box and the game is forgiving on dodging bullets up until the last few stages due to the insane amount of enemies. Each stage also ends with a boss and the bosses are the easy part of the stages due to no other enemy interfering with the battle, so you can focus more on the boss without being distracted.
Graphics in this game have a very dark and cool looking space sci-fi theme and anime styled characters. I did enjoy the backgrounds, there was a decent amount of stuff going on that gives you the feeling of being in an epic space war, plus it helped to make space feel very alive and not lonesome. The detailing in the background is decent and looks very good but the backgrounds can look quite samey in a bunch of levels and this will make you feel like that you are repeating stages or not progressing though the game. While I didn't like the characters personalities, I did enjoy their designs, they had a nice militaristic sci-fi look that reminded me of space war movies and classic anime. Each character also had their own unique look and this added a lot of variety to the character designs.
Animation in this game is really smooth and didn't drop down in quality at any point in the game, nor where there times where the game slowed down and it was very nice to see this consistency in the game. This game does have voice acting for the characters, it is a Japanese dub with English subtitles. The acting itself was passable, there were moments that were good to listen, but the dub also has some rough patches in terms of acting and audio quality and does sound a bit fuzzy in parts. The soundtrack in this game is really good and has a rock and techno sound style that really suits the game. My problem with the soundtrack is that it can be a bit hard to hear as it is drowned out by the sound effects and that's a shame as it is a decent soundtrack.
Overall, this game does have its problems and a very weak story but it does have some really good gameplay that makes this game a real blast to play. I do recommend giving this game a go as you are bound to have some fun with it. Flawed but fun.
Game: The Hurricane of Varstray -Collateral Hazard-
Developer: Studio SiestA
Publisher: Rocket Engine Co. Ltd.
Genre: Shoot 'em Up, Science Fiction, Action