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Ray’Z Arcade Chronology Review – A Must-Have Collection for Shoot ‘Em Up Fans

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If you’re an arcade shooter fan, rejoice, as yet another classic series is now available on modern consoles. Ray’Z Arcade Chronology bundles up RayForce, RayStorm and RayCrisis into one glorious package, and whether you’re an existing fan or not, if you like shooting things you should probably check it out.

Unleashed upon arcades in 1994, you might have already played RayForce under a different name. It’s also been known as Layer Section, Galactic Attack and Gunlock, depending on location and format. Here, though, you get to play RayForce in all of its original 2D glory. It may be over 30 years old now, but this is still a nice-looking shooter. And while it mostly adheres to the tried and tested mechanics of vertical shooters, it does have one gimmick to make it stand out a little.

You see, as well as having your standard shot, you can lock onto and then fire a laser at enemies on a different plane that your regular bullets can’t reach. To succeed and score big, then, you need to keep your wits about you. Taking down powerful enemies on your level with your shots is important, but you also need to move your laser reticule over ground and other targets not at your level, before firing off bevvies of laser fire to take them down too. It can be tricky, but when you get it right you score big.

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The gameplay remains largely the same in 1996’s RayStorm, but there are a number of key differences. For one, the world of 3D is embraced, allowing for dramatic camera changes and more exciting action. If you want, you can also combine your standard shot and laser fire into one button, making playing considerably easier. There’s also a new special attack which clears the screen when used. And you have the choice of two ships, one of which can lock onto more enemies at once with its lasers.

The final game in this collection, 1998’s RayCrisis, is actually a prequel. Not that it really matters, as you won’t be playing these games for their stories. In any case, this mixes things up yet again, with a snazzy new presentation style and a progression system that alters the stages you play and the ending based on your performance. Once again two ships are available as well as a screen-clearing special attack. But you’re no longer able to fire both your standard shot and laser together with just one button press.

With the collection put together by M2, you can rest assured that the ports are great, capturing the essence of the original releases without introducing any new issues. And of course, there are plenty of new features. You can change the difficulty of each and every game, for example, as well as tweak things like the number of lives you start with. Features like save states are also available, and you can tinker with screen options and suchlike.

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When it comes to RayStorm and RayCrisis, Ray’Z Arcade Chronology even offers up the original or HD versions, with the latter having much improved visuals. They obviously can’t compete with new shooters on the market, but they sure do clean up rather nicely. And to keep you going back for more, global leaderboards have been implemented, making chasing a high score more lucrative than ever before. You can brush up your skills by making use of the new replay feature as well.

The only way you could be a little disappointed with Ray’Z Arcade Chronology is if you were expecting some kind of museum-like content, as there’s none of that here. Otherwise, this is a brilliant collection for shoot ’em up fans. All three games presented here are classics and they’ve never looked or played better. Add in all the new options and features, and you’re onto a winner.

Ray’Z Arcade Chronology Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Ray’Z Arcade Chronology is based on the PS4 version (played on PS5) with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4 and Switch.

Buy a physical copy of Ray’Z Arcade Chronology via Strictly Limited Games

Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!