A Quick Look At Radirgy

You say Radilgy, I say Radirgy...let's call the whole thing off. Is what Fred Astaire was really getting at when he sang that song that time. The proper title of this slightly unorthodox vertically scrolling shmup is Radio Allergy...so I guess either is technically correct. Just don't call it Radallergy, at least not in my presence anyway.

So Radirgy then. Not a game I was overly familiar with until quite recently, simply because it usually fetches quite high prices when listed on eBay and because I like a bargain I was unwilling to shell out for such a frivolous item. That changed when I noticed the game on sale for a rather decent price over at Games World and decided that my life needed more cell-shaded, 2006 Dreamcast shooting in it. Nary a day later, Radirgy was sat spinning in my NTSC-J Dreamcast and now I've had time to play the thing properly I'm going to share my thoughts on it.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Radirgy was released on the Dreamcast in 2006 after being ported from its native NAOMI by developer Milestone. A stalwart of the shmup genre, Milestone were also the same outfit behind those other well-known NAOMI/Dreamcast games Chaos Field and Karous - the latter of which I have never played, again due to its rarity and high price. Before acquiring Radirgy I was aware of its existence but really didn't take much interest because it's a game I never thought I'd own, and as alluded to several times in my Ghost Blade review, I'm not a massive fan of the shmup genre in general. That said, upon playing Radirgy quite a bit since I got it, I can now comfortably say that it hasn't really changed my opinion on vertical shmups: that they're fun and mildly diverting for a while, but ultimately a bit repetitive and they get boring quickly.
That time already?
I know that might sound a bit dismissive of a genre that is as deep or as shallow as you're willing to get personally, but most shmups - for me at least - are good for a few hours and then I just kinda leave them. The same can be said of Radirgy in my opinion. The graphics look great, as the whole game is done in a cel-shaded style and it reminds me quite a lot of Jet Set Radio. Not just because it too is cel-shaded, but because the city environments you fly over look very reminiscent of locations from Tokyo-To: bright, clean cityscapes filled with garishly hued rooftops and cars; and lush green spaces juxtaposed with the clean grey of the roads. All it needs is Gum being chased by Captain Onishima down below and you'd have the perfect cameo.
Because Radirgy didn't receive a western release, the game is mostly in Japanese (save for a few of the options menus) and so it's quite difficult to understand what's going on half the time. You get messages throughout the game in the form of emails, but I have no idea what they say. Thankfully though, there are numerous reviews and FAQs online that explain the story of the game. Basically, radio waves have turned machines evil or something, and you have to save the protagonist's father (a scientist) and get him to stop the machines or the radio waves. Or something like that - I'm not overly bothered how this results in you choosing a flying battle mech and shooting bubbles at mechanical flying beasties. It just does, so deal with it. Speaking of flying battle mechs, you have three to choose from and each has a different weapon load-out: the aforementioned bubbles, a sort of beam laser and a traditional green bullets system. They're all upgradeable to screen-filling proportions, and you also have a little sword (which is pretty pointless as far as I can tell).
The thing that sets Radirgy apart from other games in this genre is the scoring/shield system. When you shoot enemies with your weapon, they'll invariably spew forth these little blue pills. If you collect them, they fill up a meter in the bottom left and that allows you to activate a sort of special weapon field that kills everything it touches. Only when you hit enemies (or enemy bullets) with this special, they drop green pills which then fill up your combo multiplier meter in the top left. The higher you fill this green meter, the more points you rack up, and it becomes a delicate balance of trying to play the two off against each other. Kill stuff for blue pills > use the blue pills to activate the special > get green pills > get more points. Simple! You also get a little shield that activates when you stop firing your main weapon and any projectiles this comes into contact with also help to fill up your combo meter. Sound confusing, but it isn't once you get the hang of it. What is confusing is all the other pickups that float around the screen and that I can see no use for - little square tiles with all kinds of random pictures on them such as sandals, ice creams, bottles of Newcastle Brown ale (not really). What are they for? I haven't got the foggiest, but they add to the wanton confusion so I like them. There is a guide to some of Radirgy's other power-ups and cast of characters at Dreamcast Scene though, so head over there if you'd like to know who the bespectacled, purple-haired girl on the the cover is.
For the most part Radirgy plays smoothly, although there is a little bit of slowdown when the screen gets chocka with enemies and projectiles. The bosses are quite odd and have a tendency to use everyday items as projectiles (tennis balls, balloons etc), and they appear to have time limits so if you don't kill them before the timer runs out, you get a snarky message with accompanying image from your co-pilot.

The usual shmup staples are here - varying difficulty modes, a Tate mode if that's your bag, and some alternative play modes from the main game. The music is pretty crap though, which is odd considering the game is about radio waves or something. To be honest though, there's not much to make you go back to Radirgy once you've complete the main story - at least not as far as I could see. If you're a fan of the genre though, then Milestone's shooter ticks all the right boxes in that it's playable, offers moderate replay for high scores and it looks damn good.
Radirgy is also available for the PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Wii and 3DS with differing extra features and game modes. If you're only a casual shmup fan though, don't go spending a fortune on this - wait until you see it for a realistic price and then give it a shot.


Father Krishna said...

I share your thoughts about Shmups, (although I seem to have purchased enough over the years!). Its taken me years, the easiest settings,a plethora of lives or credits, the addition of "pink bullets", tears and heartache to get anywhere, in any of them.

DCGX said...

Yeah this game is solidly "good," and won't change anyone's mind on the genre. It's fun to play for its graphically style more than anything else. Karous too, but that game is primarily black and white.