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Undead Line

version: jp - year: 1991 - developer: pal soft- publisher: pal soft- format: mega drive, 8 mbit cartridge - condition: good - rarity: hard to find

The cover art is identical to the MSX2 original release although the MD manual is missing the beautiful MSX2 color illustrations

 

The graphics for this MD version have been changed significanlty

 

The fire boss is really cool looking

 

Dracula has been added and gives to the game a further Castlevania flavor

 

The count isn't very hard if you are equipped with the right weapon

 

The last boss is very hard especially if you don't know what to do. In the first part of the fight stay in the center of the screen close to him to avoid the small laser beams which come out of his hands. Eventually he'll shower you with bullets. Use your shield and keep on shooting like a maniac. When he is low on health, he'll fire a devastating laser beam from his left eye. To avoid it, circle around his right arm when he is about to fire. Repeat a few times until he dies. Using the axe makes things faster.

 

If you followed my advices, you should get to see this

 

It was hard but worth it!

Review - Two years after the MSX2 release, Undead Line was ported to Mega Drive not by T&E Soft but by Pal Soft.

As a result, Pal Soft not only upgraded the graphics but also took a lot of liberties reshaping gameplay to the point that Undead Line on Mega Drive feels like a different game.

The basic structure is still the same, since you can choose the level from which you want to start although levels are now only loosely based on the originals and some are entirely different.

Graphically, this version has been upgraded to a great extent. Gone is most of the slow down and the sprite flickering while the main sprite is much bigger and better animated. Enemies also benefited from the transition as they are more detailed. Some cool new enemies (like the ghost girls in the graveyard) have been added and bosses have been completely redrawn to take advantage of 16 bit technology so they are now much bigger and cooler looking.

Upon reaching the crate of the volcano in the fire level, a huge column of fire will explode upward and the boss will materialize from it with an effect which looks very spectacular and which completely overshadows the MSX fire boss. Also, some levels even feature nice parallax effects (the cave and the last stage) which were completely missing in the MSX2 original.

At this point, one would expect the music to be also extremely good but unfortunately, not only it sounds rustling but it is only marginally based on the original MSX2 music. Actually, the bgms are very lacking and are definitely worse than their MSX2 counterpart.

Moreover, the intro, outro and cut-scenes are inexplicably missing and have been replaced with a couple of lame static screenshots.

These shortcomings are definitely disappointing especially if you had the chance to experience the original game…

As of gameplay, things have been touched up. To give you an example, hidden chests are gone and now all chests are visible and each contain either weapons (which you can cycle through by shooting at the icon) or potions, spells etc. Fairies are not hidden anymore so it becomes very easy to capture them to increase your stats. This takes away a bit of the discovery element that was present in the original game.

Another noticeable change is the fact that you won't have a health bar but rather 3 small health tablets which represent the number of hits that you can take before losing a life (if you don't have a shield of course).

Another difference is that it is only possible to select the warrior (the wizard and the ninja are gone). The warrior was probably the more reasonable choice in the MSX2 game but why eliminate the other selectable characters in this version? It appears that Pal Soft decided to strip the game from its RPG elements and make it more of a straight over-head shooter. In this respect, it succeeded to make Undead Line even more action oriented. Picking up the wrong weapon or the wrong potion can still mess up your game but not as badly as before since you'll be given the chance to switch back to your weapon of choice many times during the levels without having to level it up from scratch.

Because of all these changes, Undead Line on Mega Drive is definitely not a straight port but rather a remake of the original. The difficulty level has been retained as you'll probably notice as soon as you'll try a few games. Me, despite being still fresh of the MSX2 experience, I had to relearn the levels and the game because initially, I got wiped out in no time. To alleviate the difficulty, Pal Soft even included an extra shield (you can use 3 of them per continue) and 3 continues but believe me, this won't be enough especially when you manage to get to the last boss, which is incredibly tough.

On a side note, I found sadistic the fact that once you clear a level, you don't get your health back (unlike in the MSX2 game) and this is a bit frustrating although you'll be given a lot of opportunities to collect health potions. In the end, Undead Line on Mega Drive is a very good but different experience from the MSX2 game. It certainly has the edge graphically and it is more action oriented but it lacks the amazing music and amazing atmosphere of the original game. It is still a very challenging game so I would recommend it to hardcore shmuppers only.

Bottom line: An impressive vertical shooter with great production values but unforgiving gameplay. For the pros only! 9/10

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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