The original release of Gleylancer from 1992 only ever saw the light of day in Japan on the Sega Genesis. Then in 2008 a small portion of the state side gaming community had a chance to take it for a spin thanks to the Wii Virtual Console version. Fast forward to today and the 16-bit side scrolling shooter is finally getting a multi console launch so that everyone can have an opportunity to play it.
Story, there is one but like most shoot em ups, it’s not super impressive or necessary. A war has broken out between an unknown alien race and humans in the years 2025. The main characters father Ken has been captured and you play his 16 year old daughter Lucia who hijacks a prototype fighter ship the Gley Lancer to rescue him. That’s all the motivation one requires to shoot down countless aliens but at least it does provide for some wonderful manga-style panels between levels for the narration.
There are 3 main types of game modes for this current iteration of the title. Vintage which replicates the exact experience that gamers had back in 1992, Modern which allows for new features such as the ability to rewind or control the Gunners manually with the second analog stick and finally the Cheaters mode which is where things like invincibility and auto fire are located. Note that all of the achievements or platinum trophy can be self obtained by the game in cheater mode with the right settings toggled.
Mechanically the game is very sound. The controls are fluid and responsive which is absolutely great considering how many enemy projectiles will be flooding the screen that you will need to avoid. Keeping in mind that this is a retro game where longevity comes from the challenge, so obviously this is a one hit kills title. If you are playing on a mode without the rewind feature, expect to see the game over screen a ton while learning the patterns for every segment. This might be my biggest complaint with the game, enemy projectiles can be very small and hard to see with all of the movement on screen leading to some very frustrating defeats.
You will be provided a decent arsenal to use as you blast your way through the 11 stages. Your main attack is always there and never changes, a straight shot to the right. It’s the pickups that create the variety. Your ship has two gunners that will fire different modes based on your choosing and the ammo will match that of the most recent pickup. These can vary between spreads, bounces or even lasers but know that they are not present at spawn. First pick up will summon one and the next will summon the second however death means you have to grab them all over again.
Visually the game has not been upgraded in any way since its first iteration. Backgrounds provide enough variety to not feel stale and bosses are imaginative and provide different weak points to target. Outside of the actual assets the modern release only has basic options like changing your background or adding a CTR filter. Oddly there is no volume control which seems like a misstep for today’s age of party chats and streams.
All told, Gleylancer is a fun game that is very true to the era that created it. The low cost of under $10 dollars matches that run time which is about an hour based on skill level. Modernizations are also minimal but that probably feels just right for retro junkies.