Any dedicated and truly sentimental Sega Dreamcast owner might remember some time ago; around early 2006 to be precise that “Under Defeat” a vertical scrolling arcade shoot ‘em up from developers G.Revolution was rumoured to be the final release for the short lived console. By that time the Xbox 360 was well and truly launched that took the world by storm with its high definition console gaming genius and improved Xbox LIVE functionality – the Sega Dreamcast was beyond the point of no return and destined for console heaven in many a gamers loft or basement.
Now, six whole years and a few months later, the Dreamcast’s finest shoot ‘em up is remastered and ready for action in a new HD: Deluxe Edition brought to retail across the US and Europe by Rising Star Games. The new improved version for current gen consoles is an amazing gameplay experience that re-ignites the excitement and skill required from a classic arcade shoot ‘em up. It has already been available in Japan for over a year now as Under Defeat HD: Limited Edition, but the US and European Deluxe Edition features all current DLC content and game patches on the disc, an exclusive to this edition chopper to control, as well as an enhanced 2nd disc with a digital art book and even a game soundtrack.
The story in Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition, the whole reason and purpose to controlling a chopper from a top-down perspective is that you are taking part in a war. For more than ten years as an alternate reality World War II, the continent has been divided between The Empire (Germans), and The Union (English). Just days before a scheduled ceasefire was to take place from both sides due to the rising number of casualties, neither The Empire, nor The Union hesitated to continue fighting and so new combat vehicles were introduced into battle which was about to amass into an unprecedented scale!
Other than knowing the story in brief, you do not actually get to experience much of it because the game kick starts you directly into the shoot ‘em up action where it’s a simple premise of keep shooting the hell out of your enemy vehicles or get blown to pieces yourself. You get to control your chopper using traditional control methods or with dual-stick compatibility where you can fire the direction of your shots and bombs with the right control stick whilst moving with the left. As an arcade game, the controls are simple to master – it’s only the way in which you control your ammunition, time your shots and dodge the incoming heavy flux of bullets that requires all the hard work.
As a game that has been originally developed for the arcade, it is more about the determination and skill of survival whilst aiming to rack up the highest score as humanly possible for the leaderboards. So, the story itself is more of a purpose to why you’re in a chopper and a whole host of enemy war vehicles are aiming directly at you, but the concept seems to be that you have to truly master the environments to be able to progress further. Under Defeat is most definitely a challenge and taking a line which has been quoted to me before “It’s like a marathon. You have a hard time while you run the 26 miles, but at the end, glory awaits you…” and this couldn’t be truer.
Featured within the menu is a couple of different mode’s and options to play with. First off, making full use of HDTV is the New Order Mode. This mode presents an area in 16:9 widescreen for the game which is generally unheard of for vertical shooters as the field of play is now approximately twice the size than it should traditionally be. This is effectively adding a dynamic to the battle with increased range. Next up is the Arcade Mode, the more traditional setting as it is a complete port of the original arcade game – it doesn’t take up the whole width of the screen and is more adjusted in size to get more of the vertical field area in view. Finally, there are additional options for Practise Modes, Achievements, Leaderboards over Xbox LIVE, as well as a Gallery of game illustrations and bonus art.
Visually the New Order Mode is the better option to play with because it looks better, clearer and features an improved destructive realism element to it such as rumbling tank suspensions, massive explosions, improved textures and shadowing that present a more enhanced “Under Defeat” game that outshines the original by miles. It really has been fine tuned for perfect HDTV widescreen playing without having to strain your eyes on the reduced sized content of the Arcade setting to make sure all the vertical area can fit on screen.
Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition is not only a great looking, detailed shoot ‘em up for arcade fans, but it’s also a challenge that wouldn’t leave you satisfied until you had mastered all of the levels. Even on the easiest setting it has limited lives and continues – so this is no quick “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am” and you’ll gain enjoyment from taking the time to master your environments and impress the world with your rankings on the leaderboards.
Even if you’ve never considered buying a shoot ‘em up, Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition is definitely worth a shot. I can’t imagine how anyone could not find this fun or satisfying in some way or another.