It has to be said that a lot of gamers are too young to remember what I fondly think of as being the “golden era” of gaming… when we used to get excited about the release of a new game, rush home after buying it, popping it into the tape deck and waiting for what seemed to be an eternity for it to load and in many cases hoping for as good as possible a conversion of some of the latest classic arcade games. Summer holidays with the family were something to be looked forward to and treasured. Games in arcades were so advanced that we thought we’d never get to see or play anything like them at home so we’d save up for months just to be able to put a handful of 10p coins into the latest offerings from Capcom, Sega, Atari, Konami and the like.
Then Sega unleashed a flurry of monsters onto the arcade world with their hydraulic cabinets. No-one was prepared for the likes of OutRun, Afterburner or my personal favourite, Space Harrier. The idea of climing into an arcade shooter and have the machine literally throw you around while you blasted away at hordes of creatures flying towards you in amazing 3D… we’d seen nothing like it before and it truly was revolutionary. Arcades have come a long way since then and they’ve degraded to little more than row after row of slot machines and money-making cranes and true arcade games are few and far between. The glory days are long gone as consoles have taken over. Old games that we used to remember have been relegated to remakes, tributes and retro compilations and this is where Bloodred Wyvern comes in…
Short of using any direct references in the title, Bloodred Wyvern is an unashamed clone of Space Harrier. It’s a no-frills 3D shoot-em-up putting you in control of a wyvern (dragon to you and me) flying over a variety of different landscapes destroying everything in your path. There’s no explanation given to why you’re actually having to do this – you just do. Just avoid everything flying towards you, shoot, collect power-ups and score bonuses that appear randomly as you destroy the myriad of creatures who have set out to stop you on your way and reach each of the end-of level bosses – who all look remarkably familiar…
In a nutshell that’s it. Get to the end of each stage, defeat the boss and then it’s on to the next which features new enemies, a new boss and a completely new look visually – from lakes and mountains to molten lava – it’s all here. Keep going until you lose all of your lives – pretty standard retro arcade gameplay really. To give you a break between the frantic arcade action, there are bonus stages where you have to fly your wyvern through rings that are hurtling towards you at breakneck speed. Make it through them for bonus points but if you collide with any you lose energy… and lose too much and it’s a life lost.
Controls are simple enough… using the left stick or d-pad moves the wyvern and the X button fires. Power-ups are collected automatically and are basically straighforward firepower upgrades so you don’t need to do anything to use them. In game options are limited but one nice touch was the ability to alter the controls from the standard up = up to inverted pilot controls and for any Space Harrier veterans this is a very welcome addition and makes the game a more natural and responsive way to play.
The main thing with games like this – and where early home conversions of Space Harrier suffered – is the need for speed. No matter how good it may look from stills, it has to be fast to be worth playing and Bloodred Wyvern doesn’t disappoint. The game looks good and moves at a breakneck speed and you really feel that you’re in control of a massive, fire-spewing dragon that’s hell-bent destruction throughout the game. There’s no sign of slowdown at any point and it makes it a joy to play. Sound is limited to basic in-game sound effects and forgettable in-game music while the titles screens and menus are navigated in silence. Functional but they serve their purpose.
There’s no online support as yet – the highscores are stored locally, no trophies and no online multiplayer (although it’s not the sort of game that lends itself to multiplayer anyway) but to be honest, none of that is important. Space Harrier only ever had it’s fixed high scores and from a personal point of view, I feel that trophies really are a “bonus” for games and aren’t particularly essential. Yes, they’re a nice addition and can add extra challenges but they’re not a deal-breaker. As gamers we managed to survive the PS One, PS2 and PSP without them and the early days of the PS3 didn’t have them either so it’s not the end of the world when a game doesn’t have them.
As a fan of the arcade original, I was pleasantly surprised by this. It’s managed to capture the feel and playability of the original and while it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, the power-ups and bonus stages don’t detract from the game or get in the way of it. It’s a fun game with a great pick-up-and-play appeal and is exactly what I look for in a PSM game – something that I can come back to whenever I want a quick gaming fix at any time and at the sub £1 price tag it’s an absolute steal.
If you’re looking for a retro arcade game, or a quick diversion to play between longer gaming sessions, then you could do far worse than this. A great fun game and one that’s well worth taking a look at.
At A Glance
- Title: Bloodred Wyvern
- Publisher: Mukagosoftware Development
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 24Mb