During the arcade era, certain genres – such as shoot-em-ups and beat-em-ups – were all the rage. Easy to pick up, these games were perfect for quick gameplay sessions, but they were brutal too; after all, their ultimate goal was to make you spend as many of your credits as possible.
Yet, arcade games often provided a quality experience, with high replay value. Sadly, many of these classic titles can’t be played nowadays – at least, not until developers like QUByte port them to modern platforms. Such is the case with the VASARA Collection, a package containing two arcade shoot-em-ups brought to us directly from Japan.
When it comes to the core gameplay of VASARA Collection, both VASARA 1 and VASARA 2 provide very similar experiences. In these two hardcore shoot-em-ups, you (and a friend, if you wish) can choose between a variety of different characters to fight with in a technological version of feudal Japan. History and science combine to create a diverse array of enemies and landscapes, with samurais, mechs, and gigantic spaceships all playing their part in the overall plot. These scenarios and characters are all captured in a pleasant sprite-style art form that, despite its constraints for the time, still has charm.
Straight up, when it comes to the preservation work done here, VASARA Collection is certainly an achievement. It not only brings to the Switch two previously inaccessible arcade titles, but also adds quality-of-life improvements – such as Tate mode, and infinite continues – to make them enjoyable even in modern times.
Better yet, the Collection also includes some welcome additional content: an artwork gallery that details the development of VASARA 1 and VASARA 2, and also a new separated mode called VASARA Timeless, which has modernised graphics and gameplay. Modern doesn’t necessarily mean better, however.
One aspect of VASARA Collection that lacks appeal is its difficulty. Both of the classic titles within are very challenging, with segments that are almost worthy of a bullet hell. As a means to alleviate this, you’re able to “continue” infinitely at the expense of your points for the leaderboards, which in most cases allows you to enjoy the experience. However, if you use continues in some latter areas, your level progress is reset to the beginning, which can be quite frustrating. This makes the VASARA titles quite demanding, so if you’re not a big fan of hardcore shoot-em-ups, this may be a big turn-off.
In comparison, the aforementioned VASARA Timeless mode can be the perfect option for those who don’t want to deal with the more classical approach. This mode works as a kind of remixed (and easier) version of everything found in VASARA. Here, you (or together with up to three friends) can choose between characters from both games, and play unique levels with revamped bosses and enemies. Timeless Mode works in fullscreen, as every single element was remade in 3D, however when you compare it with the original games, the result is a new style that isn’t nearly as timeless as it sounds.
Despite its weaker new gameplay mode, VASARA Collection is a package with lots to offer. Not only does it allow previously inaccessible titles to be played on a modern platform, but it also comes with some welcome extras and quality-of-life improvements. These titles certainly aren’t for everyone, though, and may appeal more to fans of the genre than casual players.
VASARA Collection £8.99
The VASARA Collection allows for a kind of time travel back to the golden age of the shoot-em-up genre. The quality of the package is inconsistent overall, but it still delivers a solid experience for the fans.