Psyvariar Delta (Switch, PS4, PC)

Psyvariar was an arcade 2-D vertically scrolling shooter from around the early 2000’s.  It falls under the category called ‘bullet hell’ shooters as you must avoid large amounts of projectiles as the main challenge.  And now you can enjoy the ultimate version on Switch, PS4, and PC (reviewed on Switch here).

At first glance this looks like any other shooter with spaceships, and it kind of is.  But it does have some gameplay mechanics that aren’t as new now, but they probably were back then.  The first is that you are encouraged to fly as close to bullets as possible.  In this game, when you do that and destroy spaceships, you level up.  When you reach certain levels, your ship transforms and your shot pattern changes.  Also, when you reach certain levels, you can choose new stages to tackle as sometimes you get the chance to choose branching paths between levels.  To help you ‘buzz’ as close to bullets as possible, there is even a zoomed in screen on the right side to help you see how close you can get.  The HD rumble in the JoyCons is surprisingly helpful in that aspect, too.  I wish the game would’ve explained all this to me, though, as I only learning it by looking on the Internet.

Controls are simple.  Hold down a button to fire, press another to release limited screen clearing bombs, and the shoulder buttons make your shots concentrate to the front for a short while.  Before you start, you can choose which ship to fly, and which version of the game to play.  There are three versions, but other than enemy placement and slight changes in backgrounds, I didn’t notice much difference.  In the options you can practice individual stages, view replays, and select your difficulty level.  Luckily you can set it on Easy and you get unlimited continues if ‘bullet ‘hell’ shooters aren’t your thing.  Two players can go at it at the same time, too.

There is some interesting DLC in the form a new ship you can pilot.  It’s a mech from another shooter, this one called Cybattler from the early 90’s I believe.  You can even change your shot direction with that ship just like in the original arcade game.  But it’s only interesting if you’re a die-hard shooter fan.  Really the only problem that I had with the game is that since the playfield only takes up a third of the screen, it can be hard to see in handheld mode.  But if you enjoy arcade style shooters, this is a good one to look into.

Kid Factor:

Psyvariar Delta is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You shoot spaceships that explode, and that’s about it.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but not necessary just to play.  Even though these types of games are hard, selectable difficulty modes and unlimited continues will keep it from being too frustrating for younger gamers.

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