On paper, Otomedius Excellent is the greatest game ever: anime girls with mostly-exposed breasts ride air scooters and blast aliens in a clone of the classic arcade shooter Gradius. Sign us up, right? In practice, though, Otomedius unfortunately misses the elements that make a great 2D shooter.
Otomedius Excellent: Gradius with anime girls.
The Otomedius Excellent box art reads "Inspired by the legendary Gradius." That certainly proves true -- the biggest difference is that players pilot cute girls instead of Vic Vipers. As the screen automatically scrolls from right to left, enemies fly at you in familiar patters and leave behind familiar power-ups that lead to familiar weapons. It follows a very old school design, but not in a clever or endearing way. Rather, it's a reminder that 2D shooters have come very far and seen a lot of innovation over the years. Gradius V remains more intense and visually stunning than this and it was released six years ago on the PlayStation 2.
Your basic weapon feels limp and pathetic. If you're smart about upgrading, you will eventually be empowered, but one hit is all it takes to be reduced back to nothing -- that can be frustrating.
Awe-inspiring bosses are an important part of any 2D shooter, but of Otomedius Excellent's eight levels, only one boss battle left an impression on me. Aside from the attractive protagonists, nothing about the art design strikes me as memorable.
Otomedius Excellent does become rewarding for those who play it repeatedly. You earn experience points from every game that lead to more powerful weapons. It adds up to an addictive system, not entirely unlike that of another recent Konami shooter called Hard Corps: Uprising. There are also a bunch of playable girls to try out, each with slightly different customizable weapon schemes. So all is not lost for you shmup super fans.
Up to three players can join a game either locally or online, but Otomedius curiously hobbles the feature. When playing alone, you may continue as many times as you like, but when cooperating, you can't continue at all. Why not let friends keep playing together if they want?
The Otomedius Excellent question I keep asking myself is: Why the hell is this a $30 retail game? There are better 2D shooters like Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun available for download on Xbox Live Arcade for half the price or less. Nothing about Otomedius particularly impresses -- the Xbox 360 is certainly capable of flashier visuals than this.