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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (291)

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Doki Doki Literature Cl... 3.5/5
Quest for Infamy 2/5
Neutopia 4.5/5
Divinity: Original Sin ... 5/5
Infested 4.5/5
Battleborn 3/5
Dungeon Master II: The ... 3.5/5
Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow ... 4.5/5
MARIO & LUIGI 2.5/5
Little Samson 3.5/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
Beyond Shadowgate 3/5
RetroArch 5/5
Radical Dreamers: Le Tr... 3.5/5
Toilet Kids 3/5
Detana!! TwinBee ( Bell... 3.5/5
Titan Quest ( Titan Que... 2/5
Pop'n TwinBee 3.5/5
Mother 3 ( EarthBound 2... 4.5/5
Star Trek Timelines 3/5
Do-Re-Mi Fantasy: Milon... 3.5/5
Bahamut Lagoon 4.5/5
Dungeon Defenders II 3/5
Deus Ex: Human Revoluti... 3/5
Lara Croft and the Guar... 4.5/5

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Detana!! TwinBee ( Bells & Whistles )   TurboGrafx-16 

Dong-a-Long    3.5/5 stars

“Detana!! TwinBee” (“DT”) is the 5th game in the ‘TwinBee’ SHMUP franchise by Konami, following a trilogy on the NES and a Game Boy (Brick) entry. “DT” is also a port of the Arcade ‘TwinBee’ game “Bells & Whistles,” and was released exclusively for Hudson’s/NEC’s ill-fated TurboGrafx-16 console in 1993. While I don’t have a ton of prior experience with the ‘TwinBee’ franchise and am not a particular fan of SHMUPs in general, the SNES game that followed “DT” piqued my interest in the series enough that I was willing to try out some of its other games.

Presentation
“DT” doesn’t look quite as colorful and shiny as its SNES sequel “Pop’n TwinBee.” This is to be expected, as the TurboGrafx-16 wasn’t actually a 16-bit console, but a dual-processor 8-bit console that was originally released in Japan as a 3rd Generation competitor (where it did remarkably well), but didn’t arrive overseas until its technology was obsolete. As a port of an Arcade game, “DT” does look surprisingly close to the original visuals in “Bells & Whistles.” That said, it just doesn’t have the depth of color as a SNES game. Not to say that this 2D, sprite-based SHMUP doesn’t look good: It does! Compared side-by-side with any NES game, “DT’s” visuals pop with color. Like its sequel, however, the choice of bullet color for enemy projectiles is a bit unfortunate, as the orange bullets that are so prolific in “DT” tend to blend in with orangey backdrops, which are fairly common.

The audio in “DT” is of reasonably high quality. Once again, the TurboGrafx-16 suffered from its uncomfortable place between the 8-bit 3rd Generation and the 16-bit 4th Generation. While the audio and sound effects in “DT” are leaps and bounds above anything the NES could produce, when compared with similar SNES games, the quality isn’t quite there. The soundtrack is appropriately cheery and bubbly to go along with the franchise’s abstract, cartoony visuals, but unfortunately forgettable.

Story
Unfortunately, “DT” has not been translated into English, despite a Virtual Console release on the Wii in 2009. There is a blob of text at the beginning of the game, and another at the end. Both feature a green-haired anime girl dressed like a princess, holding some sort of glowing orb.

It’s safe to assume that she has called the Boy/Girl/Kid Brother team of TwinBee, WinBee, and GwinBee (WinBee’s sibling) to help her with a problem that involves boarding their chibi anthropomorphic mechs and shooting/bombing a bunch of weird things… but considering the horrific cheese I’ve experienced in other ‘TwinBee’ narratives, I’m okay with not knowing what’s going on.

Gameplay
“DT” is a vertically-scrolling SHMUP in which 1-2 players take command of a Bee aircraft and shoot/bomb enemy… things. As is traditional in this franchise, enemies are strange, goofy things that fire small projectiles. Some of these enemies are airborne and must be taken out with the Bee’s main weapon. Others are earthbound and must have bombs dropped on them. Interestingly, “DT” features a charge attack for the main cannon, called Big Shot, that is reminiscent of the Mega Buster in the 8-bit ‘Mega Man’ games. The Big Shot makes “DT” play significantly differently from ‘TwinBee’ games that don’t feature that weapon.

As is traditional in most SHMUPs, a single hit destroys the player’s Bee. However, in “DT,” it’s possible to take up to 3 hits before being destroyed, provided those hits come at the right angles. If a deadly hit strikes one of the Bee’s anthropomorphic, boxing-glove clad arms instead of its core body, the arm will be destroyed instead. If a Bee loses both arms, an ambulance powerup will appear to reattach them (but only once per 1-up).

“DT” is very Arcadey with its use of lives and continues. While it is unfortunate that the player doesn’t have unlimited chances to continue, the fact that “DT” never sets the player back for dying is somewhat remarkable. Using up extra lives or extra continues simply allows the player to keep going from the exact point in the game where they died; no checkpoints, no restarts. “DT” also features a somewhat robust difficulty selector that allows players to pick between Easy, Normal, Hard, and Pro. I stuck with Normal for my run through the game, but I’m sure I would have had more fun on Easy.

Extra lives appear at random throughout the game’s 7 stages, and are quite important to hoard, as, while the scrolling stages and bosses at the end of them feel nicely balanced and playable, the final boss is an absolute disaster that will burn through lives and continues incredibly fast.

The power-up system in “DT” is largely the same as it is in other ‘TwinBee’ games. By shooting happy, smiling clouds, the player releases bells. These bells default to bronze, but continuing to shoot them and juggle them ahead of the Bee craft can cause them to change colors, with each different color granting a specific power-up. In addition to bells from clouds, “DT” allows players to randomly find a stationary bell power-up and the sidekick character GwinBee by bombing ground targets. GwinBee is a great addition to the game, as he can both take a hit for the player and fires out a special blast in tandem with each of the player’s weapon shots.

Overall
“Detana!! TwinBee” is another solid entry in the ‘TwinBee’ franchise. While cute, goofy, and more accessible than most SHMUPs, this is still a game that can bring as much challenge as the player desires. As an Arcade port, it’s surprisingly friendly with its lives/continues system, though still unfortunately limited. I would really like to see Konami produce a thoroughly modern ‘TwinBee’ game, with a big world map full of numerous stages, a save system, and other accoutrements that really made Platforming games shine in the 4th Generation. Until that happens, I’ll just have to be happy with “PixelJunk Shooter.”

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 1/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5

 

 


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