I fire up Assault Suit Leynos not really knowing what to feel about it. Sure, I know it’s an HD remake of Target Earth, a trip to a more simpler time, but I’m not sure if the execution will be right. It looked great at PAX East earlier this year, but will the whole game hold up? Eager, I click through the simplistic menu and hit “GAME START.” I read the scrolling text of my first mission. “Cool,” I thought. “I’m on Ganymede.” Most games would just opt for the more easily recognizable Jupiter rather than its largest moon, and I love it when sci-fi takes place in our own solar system—it’s more believably futuristic. I press X and the dialogue starts for the first mission. The text is English, but the voice work is Japanese. I love it already.
Title: Assault Suit Leynos
Platforms: PC, PS4
Developer: Dracue Software
Publisher:Rising Star Games
Suit Up, We’re Going Home
There’s undeniably been a huge crop of HD remakes for this console generation. Whether the game gods are feeding us recent leftovers, like the Nathan Drake Collection, or are instead going down into the deep freeze and thawing out the gems of yesteryear, like Grim Fandango and Assault Suit Leynos, console gamers are taking in a steady diet of nostalgia burgers (Man, I was really trying to keep the food thing going there).
So, what game more fitting for the current trend of revitalized classics than Target Earth, now Assault Suit Leynos? It’s about space explorers who want to go home, back to Earth, but the only problem is, it’s not really the same anymore. It’s different and war-stricken, and these forgotten explorers are mad as hell about it. I get this fear every time I pick up one of these reiterated classics, a fear that it’s really not as good as I remember and that I’m only buying because I’m betraying my childhood if I don’t. Only sometimes, I’m the one who’s betrayed, because the publishers played me.
Thank god I didn’t feel this way after playing Assault Suit Leynos. No, this game is still damn good and lots of fun. And the changes they made for the comeback? Perfect. The game looks great, it’s hard as hell, and the new voice work brings it all together. For those of you who want more of the original experience—which is so much harder than Arcade Mode—you can go into the menu and select Classic Mode, where it will play and sound more like the original. However, you won’t get to hear that sweet Japanese voice work.
Just Blowing Up Everything
If you’ve played Target Earth, then you know the drill: Destroy everything. That’s basically it in Assault Suit Leynos. You’ll fight waves of enemies, blow them all to hell, and rocket forward toward more. Unlocking new weaponry for your assault suit is pretty great, eventually granting you use of things like missile launchers, but your true best friend is your LG-GUN. Unlike the unlockables, it has infinite ammo and will never leave you hanging. It does take a second to reload, so time it right. Also, punching. Don’t forget about the punching!
Now, the missions do change during the stages, so you’re not always working your way left to right like most side-scrollers. More often, you’re back and forth as your either escorting drones, or maybe even defending a point from an oncoming enemy assault and using your thrust to jet back and forth through space. It makes and already hectic game that much more intense. You’ll need to read the dialogue text quickly to in order to find to keep up with the battle.
Regarding Arcade Mode, some of the bosses and mini-bosses can be a little easy at times. Your shield can block literally everything fired at you, and for most of the big fights, you can find a spot to get cozy, hold your finger on the trigger, throw up your shield from time to time, and crush it. Having said that, there is an insane rise in difficulty between the entire game and Stage 8, the final stage. While most bosses before this were pretty simple, the last two were much more difficult with no warning whatsoever. I liked it though. I haven’t died and retried so much since Dark Souls 3.
One problem I have is with length, because the arcade mode is a bit short. Eight stages make up the entirety of the game. To be fair, this is a remake, so you can’t really fault the creators for that, and it is only $19.99. Even so, there’s a fair amount of replay value in the game, especially since you’re scored after each stage. Going back through and getting the top score in each stage is challenging, so trophy hunters will like it.
Like I mentioned, there is also Classic Mode. After playing through both the Arcade mode and the Classic mode, I can say that the only real differences I noticed were sound effects, which were more retro in Classic; difficulty level, which was heightened in Classic; and text, which scrolled with that retro typing noise and dropped the Japanese voice over.
Make no mistake about it—Classic Mode is hard, bro. You’re going to need to be way more liberal with your shield, and you need to know when to back off, retreat a little, letting your health recharge. Since enemies do more damage in Classic, you’ll do this a lot more often, too. In Arcade Mode, I did use my shield quite a bit, but died very little before the last level. My first time playing Classic, I died 7 times before finishing the first stage.
Tell Me More, but You Know, Some Other Time
The story portion of the game is interesting. I mean, this isn’t a story driven game, and if you’re coming into Assault Suit Leynos looking for an engaging narrative, you’re playing it wrong. No, the story is pretty much a passive thing, carrying on in the background with no real emotional appeal, simply offering the player context for what’s happening during missions. That doesn’t mean it’s entirely bad, though, and I would like to see something akin to it more fully explored. But really, if this game had no story, it would be the same game.
*Review copy of Assault Suit Leynos provided by publisher
Assault Suit Leynos is very much an arcade title, plain and simple. With only a handful of levels, the grueling difficulty of Classic Mode gives the game more worth. Honestly, it feels like those old arcade classics that were nearly unbeatable, eating up all of your quarters. More levels would have been nice—this game is very short—but the different modes and stage scoring give you some reason to come back. One complaint I will stand by, though, is a lack of varied play. The game is sometimes pretty one-note, and holding down the trigger on your gatling gun will more than likely get the job done every time. Some more interesting situations and mission objectives could have gone a long way in making this game truly great.
- Faithful remake with welcome additions
- Passive story made great with voice work
- Additional challenges for multiple playthroughs
- Not many stages
- Unlockables not particularly useful
- A short but sweet revival of a classic gem.
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