Thank you so much to QUByte Interactive for providing a review code
So for the first time ever this highly acclaimed Japanese arcade Shoot Em Up franchise Vasara, has been made available to us on the Nintendo Switch.
Before playing Vasara, I had never heard of it, nor did I realize it originated from Japanese arcades. That being said, after watching a few trailers on the web, I was immediately interested.
When I saw that the game’s characters were flying through feudal Japan blowing up huge robot’s on their hovering motorcycles, I was hooked! All of their motorcycles resemble mysterious animal’s such as a golden phoenix, white steed and red dragon. I have to be honest the motorcycles interesting designs also really made me want to try these games out.
I’ve played a few good Shoot Em Ups on the Switch including arcade classics such as Gunbird and Blazing Star to name a few. The difference here is that this collection has never seen the light of day on consoles, until now.
So let’s dive head first into the Vasara Collection on Nintendo Switch and see if this collection is worth your time and money?
Upon starting the game you’ll notice a few options available from the get-go. You have access to Vasara, Vasara 2, a new 4 player co-op experience called “Timeless” as well as extra concept art to round off the package. Let’s start this review with the original Vasara
The first aspect of the Vasara Collection I’ll point out is the fantastic inclusion of TATE mode. TATE mode lets you play Vasara and Vasara 2 in a whole new way. By holding your Switch vertically, you play the game as if you were playing an arcade machine. This is a great addition which I was very happy to see added.
Vasara starts out with a short introduction to its story and characters in a very arcade/Japanese style display. The story here is about the fall of Osaka Castle, which signaled the end of the Toyotomi family. The fall of the Toyotomi family has brought about a new threat from an evil tyrannic general and his army. However, where there is evil, there’s always good and out of the smoke three heroes rise to take down the evil general and his army.
Similar to many Hamster games on the Switch the Vasara Collection, also has some extra features that can be tinkered with. These features include adding extra lives, switching screen borders and other features that can be accessed by pressing the – button.
Here’s how you can cause untold damage to your enemies. Your standard fire button is the B button which requires multiple taps to fire for old school play, or you can use the A button for rapid fire/auto fire.
By holding the B button down for a few seconds, you can activate your unique melee attack which takes out multiple enemies and re-bounds bullets. This can be a useful technique for tight situations.
You also have access to a screen clearing effect by pressing the X button. Be aware, however, as you can only hold so many charges, so its best to use this against tougher enemies.
Before starting the game you can pick from 3 different heroes, each with their own stats, vehicles and attacks. It’s nice to have the variety with the playable characters as it makes the game more accessible for all players.
What I wasn’t prepared for, when I started Vasara was how brutal it is. You’re constantly being bombarded by hails of orange bullets from ground targets, and aerial targets, who can be quite difficult to see.
It took all of my skill and strength to be able to dodge, slash and shoot my way through the clusters of enemies. After a while you’re confronted by the general’s right hand men. This is where the game’s difficulty ramps up again. You’ll face one of the many boss encounters which are grueling to fight. It definitely requires some precision and skill to avoid all of a bosses bullets.
I enjoyed the first game, but I’m definitely not a pro player and my score soon got knocked off the online leaderboards.
This isn’t a game for the impatient as it requires quick reflexes and pattern memorization, otherwise death will comes quickly.. You’re going to have to be on your game here, because if you’re not you’re going to be starring at the Game Over screen a lot.
I didn’t mind Vasara, as its core gameplay is solid. I did find that the melee attacks took too long to charge up, leading me to many deaths. This became a bit frustrating and made me not want to bother with the melee attack all together. Another issue I had was with certain projectiles being difficult to see due to the game’s different backgrounds. Vasara is also very challenging and not for newcomers to the Shoot em up genre. However the challenge that Shoot Em Ups provide is where many fans of the genre get their enjoyment from, so veterans of the genre will really enjoy Vasara.
Vasara 2’s story is much quicker then its predecessors and wants you to get straight into the action,which I definitely appreciated.
From the very beginning of Vasara 2 it’s made apparent just how much better the game looks, compared to the original. The environments and enemies look great and the bullets are so much easier to see. if you can’t already tell, I really enjoyed Vasara 2
Although, the core mechanics stay the same, Vasara 2 feels so much more refined and gives you access to two difficultly settings. You also get an option of choosing between 4 characters, instead of 3 this time around.
While you’re still going to be tested to your limits, this title feels more polished and is the one I played the most in the Vasara Collection. Much like the first one your score is also placed on an online leaderboard.
The Vasara Collection also comes with a new additional mode called “Timeless” and can be played with up to 4 players for some intense action.
This time, around the characters from Vasara and Vasara 2 are all available to choose from. There’s also one unlockable character which brings the total number of available characters to 8.
One important note about the Timeless mode is the lack of ability to tinker with the settings. This mode only gives you 3 lives and once you’re out, it’s all over.
Timeless mode also comes with a brand new coat of paint which some will love and others not so much. Personally, I’m in the middle on the game’s visual design and I think it looks alright. There’s no border options here, however, so the screen is completely open compared to the original’s.
I actually prefer the original art style, but as an optional extra mode I’m really not upset that they tried to do something different. This mode gives you access to 4 player local co-op which is a pretty great inclusion to this package.
It’s still very difficult though and only having 3 lives makes this game mode much less approachable. Sadly, I only got to play the game in 2 player mode, but it was very chaotic and fun with another person. I can only imagine how competitive and hectic it would get if there were a total of 4 players.
It’s definitely a mode that you’ll play time, time again to see how far you can get. It’s a very fun extra mode, but without the extra options and limited use of continues, I found it to be a bit less engaging than the original games.
The Vasara Collection also has a few extras to view in the “Extras” menu. In the Extras menu, you can view character art and concept drawings. I was happy with the inclusion of these fantastic designs. it would have been nice, however, to have more background info on the game, development notes and maybe some scans of the original arcade machines too. This isn’t a complaint, but more something I wish we could have received.
So what’s my final thought on this collection of games? Well, I think it’s a very worthwhile purchase. With 3 games to play including Vasara, Vasara 2, the 4 player Timeless mode, online leaderboards, TATE mode support, and a few extras there’s so much content being offered here.
It’s difficult and if you’re not a fan of these types of games, then the Vasara Collection isn’t going to change your mind. If you love a good Shoot Em Up than you’re really getting a great package for a small price tag. This is definitely a recommend for all Shoot Em Up fans.
Vasara 1 & 2 Are Both Solid Shoot Em Up Titles
TATE Mode Support
Timeless Mode is Great for 4 Player Local Co-op Action