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Posted on Feb 19th 2009 at 11:22:16 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Chaos Field Review, Chaos Field, Review, Unloved, Gamecube, Shmup

The Gamecube is sorely lacking in arcade style games and more specifically vertical scrolling shootem'ups. The two that it does have (in North America) are both quite well done. Ikaruga gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. So I'm going to spend some time talking about Chaos Field, your only other choice for this style of game in the Americas.



Gameplay

This is definitely the highlight of the game.

This game consists of only Boss battles. Thats right. No level leading up to the boss. Simply your tiny ship fighting boss after boss that are usually about a quarter to half to screen (or twice the screen length in one case) size. Each of the five levels has 3 bosses that must be defeated to advance. Think of it like Shadow of the Colossus, but in space!!

When you first start your game you have the option of choosing one of 3 characters. As you will quickly find these characters are greatly unbalanced. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The game offers a fair amount of challenge and depending on your skill level and the difficultly level you've chosen this can add an extra layer of depth to the game. I'll start by introducing the ships controls and also the characters and how they differ from one another.

Most similar shooters have very simplistic controls. Control stick to move, one button designated for shooting your main weapon, and another for a bomb-type weapon or secondary function. Pretty straight forward, right? Well Chaos field boasts five different functions that your ship is capable of performing. That might sound over-whelming considering shooters are quite frantic and require quick thinking and reflexes, but all 5 functions are very simplistic and easy to learn.


Your main function is your gunfire. Each of the 3 characters has very different style of gunfire.
The blue character is the easiest to use when starting out because he shoots the stereotypical pellet style gunfire that is quite common throughout the genre.
The red character shoots 6 lasers out in two W-shaped patterns. When these lasers pass over a target they lock onto it and stay attached doing damage for as long as you remain in the lasers range, which is about half the screen length. To deal bigger amounts of damage to a single target you simply maneuver all 6 lasers to grab the same target.
Lastly is the yellow character. He shoots very large energy balls that do the most damage of the 3 fighters. Unfortunately they also have a very short range and require you to get uncomfortably close to your targets, therefore giving you much less reaction time evade enemy bullets. And there are lots of bullets in this game.

The next most used function would be the sword. Each character uses the sword the exact same way. It swipes in front of your ship and "cuts" away most enemy fire. The only bullets immune to the sword are the purple colored ones; these still have to be dodged the old fashioned way. The first time you use your sword it swipes from left to right, second time from right to left, third time two swords come out from each side and swipe across simultaneously. The further you progress in the game the harder it becomes to simply fly around enemy fire because of the sheer number of bullets streaming at you and the sword becomes more of a necessity as you advance.

The lock on function is one of the most fun. Each character has a field that appears in green for a short amount of time when you activate your lock on. The blue ship has a V shape directly in front, red has a circle that appears about two ship lengths in front of her, and yellow has two long beams coming out from its sides angled forward. While the green field is on the screen any target within it gets locked onto and when it disappears your ship shoots a missile at anything it targeted. This does significantly more damage than your normal gun and depending on your character greatly increases your range of attack.

The fourth function is also very interesting and increasingly helpful the further you advance. It is a projectile that acts as a shield for a short period of time. Your character shoots a large item ahead of them and it "absorbs" all enemy fire as if using the sword. This doesnt work on the purple enemy fire. This is more useful than the sword later on because unlike the sword you can continue shooting while this shield is deployed.

Now the last function is the most interesting and the one the game was named for. When you start off playing your fighting on what is called the "Order Field". This is the standard way to play and both you and your enemy feel slightly "restrained". If you push the button to activate the "Chaos Field" both you and your enemy get greatly enhanced firepower. Your ships attack becomes hugely increased approximately doing 3-4 times the amount of damage it does in the Order Field. Also your lock on ability can now target enemy bullets as well. Previously only the actual enemy could be targeted. This is very helpful if trying to increase your score. The downside to the Chaos Field is that your enemy shoots nearly twice as many shots and almost always more purple (indestructible) ones.

These are the 5 main functions of the ship but the great gameplay features dont end there. The Lock On and Shield are both on limited uses. Every time you destroy one section of an enemy they release blue diamonds. By collecting these diamonds you get increased uses of your Lock On and Shield abilities.

If youre a high score junkie than this is the game for you. You've got a few different options in order to increase your score.
The first one is to not use your Lock On or Shield at all. Once you fill your blue meter by collecting enough blue diamonds orange ones start appearing and each one adds 10,000 to your score. Its very easy to gather these at first, but as you get further it gets much more necessary to use your Lock On and Shield.
Your second method is to use the Lock On to rack up a combo. Each enemy you lock on to with your missiles is worth 1 to your combo meter. You've got a very short time frame to continuously build your combo up to as high as possible. By activating Chaos Field before a lock on lets you target bullets and rack up huge scores, but if you get hit and die your score starts back at zero so its a fine line.
Thirdly you gain a combo in the same way as above by using your Shield to absorb enemy fire. Each bullet absorbed is worth one to your combo meter.
You can of course combine all 3 or these methods and increase your score much more efficiently than using them separately. I scored a maximum combo or 694 and a high score of just under 7,000,000. How do you compare??

Score - 9/10



Visuals

I promise none of the next couple sections will be nearly as long as the gameplay section.

The visuals I found to be another huge bonus this game has going for it. They are definitely not the most crisp, sharp or cutting edge the Gamecube has to offer. The Ships and backgrounds are actually kind of dull and not extremely detailed. The bullets and powerups are very vibrant and colorful. This contrast suits such a frantic game very well. I've played a lot of shooter games where a stray bullet that blended with the background destroyed my ship and I felt very frustrated, because it would have been easily avoided. Not once did I have that problem with this game. Ever death I had was fully deserved. The visuals helped make for a more satisfying less frustrating game!!

Score - 9/10


Sound

This is my least favorite part of the game. While I suppose some might say that a techno soundtrack suits the game and helps one feel immersed I really felt like it took away from the experience. This is most likely stems from a personal hatred of Techno music. From the few other reviews I've read on this game other people really seem to enjoy the music so I urge you to form your own opinion on this and dont take my word as the final one by any means.

The sound effect where at least quite nice. Nothing notable. You were aware of anything you've destroyed or picked up. The effects weren't masked by the music. Not much else to add there.

Score - 5/10


Replay

As for replay value, that really depends on what kind of gaming habits you have. I found it very replayable, but others may not because it has absolutely no unlockables. If youre a high score junkie you can find lots or replayabilty while trying to maximize your score. Check out www.shmups.com and you can even compete with other players high score in their forum and really push that score to the limits.

The game also features two slightly different versions of the game. The original Arcade version and the "Expanded" version. The differences are very slight such as fighting 10 or less enemy ships before getting to the boss fights. I wouldnt consider them to be a level or anything just some added flavor.

The game features 3 difficulty levels for replaying, but like I stated above somewhere if you really want to challenge yourself you can crank it up to Hard Mode and choose either the red or yellow ship to make it interesting for yourself.

6/10



Final Thoughts

I found this game to have a quick learning curve and while it may seem impossible and over-whelming with all the abilities your ship is capable of at first, you can quickly see methods to defeating each enemy. People new to the genre may find even Easy Mode quite daunting at first, but with some practice Hard Mode isnt much more difficult. Fans of the genre will most likely fly through the game in a day or two, but if they want to get that high score they'll put a lot more hours in. All in all I'd recommend you grab this game if you ever come across it and give it a solid chance.

Final Score 7/10



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Comments
 
I had my eye on this one a couple of times but it's price never dropped, even as they were clearing out the Cube games it was $30+. Looks like a great game though. Smiley
 
Well if you have a Wii then your in luck. I just found out yesterday that a game called Ultimate Shooting Collection is coming out this month and it will have Chaos Field, Radio Allergy and  Karous all for the low price of $30. I was very close to importing Radio Allergy for my Gamecube and am thrilled its going to be coming to North America now.

So if anyone missed out on Chaos Field the first time around on the Gamecube I urge you to grab it in this collection for the Wii!! Or just grab it if you love shooters because apparently Radio Allergy is really awesome too. Im not sure about Karous, but a few Dreamcast fans have said good things about it.
 
Plus I meant to add if you can find Chaos Field used at gamestop its dropped to $10 now!!!
 
Makes me want to get a copy! Tongue
 
@Crabmaster2000: Ultimate Shooting Collection is NEVER coming out. Cheesy
 
Did it get delayed again?Huh?? Geez
 
@Crabmaster2000:
Not yet, but I'm going to assume it is because it's been delayed so many times already.
 
Im going to be hopefull and have my money ready for the 20th!!
 
Ikaruga< I'm looking at you baby! not so much Chaos Field

 
@Link41:

If you had to choose between the two grab Ikaruga for sure, but if your looking for another shooter, or just a cheaper shooter dont hesitate to grab Chaos Field.
 
@Crabmaster2000:

Agreed. Ikaruga is a far better game, but Chaos Field is good and usually much cheaper.
 
@Tondog:

I've heard it that Ultimate Shooting Collection is actually out now (after all the delays). So grab this compilation of you like Shmups and own a Wii. Its only $29.99 new!!!
 
Another nice review, I saw this game once when it first came out, but I could justify paying full price for a SHMUP, so I decided to wait and see if the price would drop, which was a mistake, since I haven't seen it since it since.
 
Well if you've got a Wii now you can grab the Ultimate Shooting Collection for $30 and get 3 SHMUPs which, if you ask me is a great deal, and still experience Chaos Field!!
 
Son of a... my post at work didn't go through. Anyway it essentially said amazing battle system, fantastic music (true mirror is insane), awesome plot (holy **** is Kalas awesome), fantastic setting.

But yes the voice acting is awful. Then again you can turn it off which is more than fine, I mean seriously my favorite RPG of all time is Skies of Arcadia and that's 3d with no voice acting. It's not like you absolutely have to play Baten Kaitos with voice acting if you don't want to.

And... it's the only RPG the Chrono Trigger team made besides Chrono Cross. You know it's good.
 
@Shimra

lol, wrong page. Your post went through just fine on the Baten Kaitos review.
 
This review is great. Because of the length of the article, I couldn't read it until now. I'm glad I did. And I just got a GameCube. Cheesy
 
@Sirgin

I'm glad you took the time to read it. I really want to make my reviews smaller, but I kinda get carried away and feel the need to cram waaay to much information into them. If anyone has any tips to condense my writing, but keep most of the content intact I'd be all ears.

I've got a lot of the "best" gamecube games and played many others (good and bad) so if you are ever looking for some advice on what games to get for it shoot me a PM. Plus im very cheap so I'll generally point you to games that wont cost you much.
 
@Crabmaster2000:ahem.....who has one of the best gamecube collections? lol

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