If you’re a fan of shoot ’em ups, it’s nice when you can finally get your hands on those previously unavailable to you.
VASARA Collection is one such example. It presents 2000’s VASARA and 2001’s VASARA 2, previously only available in Japanese arcades, to the rest of the world for the very first time. And not only that, it also comes packaged with what is essentially a combined remake of them as well; VASARA Collection‘s Timeless Mode takes the characters and enemies from both games and gives them a modern update. It even supports four-player local co-op. What’s there not to like about that?
Like most vertically-scrolling shoot ’em ups from yesteryear, VASARA and VASARA 2 don’t look too good these days, but they are still fantastic to play. Taking control of characters inspired by real historical Japanese figures, both titles have you blasting your way though stages, with multiple routes available depending on your actions. They’re both energetic, colourful and chaotic, things that shoot ’em ups should be. And thanks to a wide range of options, you can fine tune their difficulty to your liking.
While the characters and stylish mechanised enemies of VASARA and VASARA 2 make them stand out from the crowd, it’s their melee attacks that really make them interesting. While you’ll mostly be blasting your enemies with your upgradeable guns at a distance, a powerful melee attack can be charged that does huge damage and even destroys enemy bullets. Additionally, by collecting the blue crystals dropped by defeated enemies, a VASARA gauge is charged which allows you to unleash a devastating barrage of melee blows. It’s particularly useful when fighting epic bosses or when faced with a literal screen full of enemies.
In the original VASARA, only one VASARA attack can be kept in reserve, but players also have access to screen-clearing bombs as found in most shoot ’em ups. VASARA 2 does away with the bombs, instead allowing players to store up to three VASARA attacks which can be more quickly replenished by collecting blue gems. As a result, VASARA 2 stands out as being particularly unique, and also more exciting to play.
As much fun as VASARA and its sequel are though, and they are really fun, it’s VASARA Collection‘s Timeless Mode that has the most long-term appeal. With its detailed 3D graphics it looks absolutely great, and performance is just as smooth as you’d hope it to be. Additionally, with many elements of its stages being randomised, it’s entertaining to return to time and time again. And you will, because it’s no cakewalk.
Unlike the classic games in the VASARA Collection, there are no difficulty settings or options to tweak when it comes to Timeless Mode. To succeed, you just need to get good. The randomised nature of it all means that even if you die often it’s still entertaining though. And the presence of online leaderboards will surely keep competitive score-chasers going back for more even when they have mastered the game.
Characters from both classic VASARA games are available for selection in Timeless Mode, with the mechanics of the game that they starred in attached. That means if you choose a VASARA character you get access to bombs, while those who choose VASARA 2 characters can store up to three VASARA attacks. And as mentioned at the start of this review, up for four players can get in on the action at once.
For the budget price that’s being asked for VASARA Collection, it’s an absolute steal. Both classic VASARA games are addictive enough in their own right, but it’s the addition of Timeless Mode that takes the collection into must-have territory. With its sharp, colourful graphics, tight mechanics and randomised stages, it’s heaven for shoot ’em up fans seeking something that will keep them on their feet.