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Androgynus

version: jp - year: 1987 - developer: telenet japan- publisher: telenet japan- format: msx2+ cartridge - condition: near mint- rarity: uncommon

 

Compatible with MSX2 and above

 

Very unusal and slightly slow-paced

 

The 1st boss is easy. Just shoot!

 

Level 2 takes you underwater

 

Shoot the heart

 

Level 4 is one of the best

 

One of the rare parts where backgrounds have some detail

 

The boss in level 4 is vicious. First shoot the laser cannon and then go for the boss itself while carefully avoiding the mechanical jaws and the bullet showers

 

Level 5 takes you down into living tissue

 

You keep on sinking into hell...

 

This boss jumps a lot. Stay close to the bottom-right corner and...shoot!

 

Level 6 is very hard

 

Time to take some rest, waiting for the power ups and weapons to come down

 

this thing looks like a truncated artery. Aim for the 3 pulsating hearts. Don't ask...

 

When you finish levels 1 to 6, you get a cool cut-scene where for some reason you end up in agonizing pain

 

Time for some surgery. You sure don't look pretty

 

And I guess that's the result...not bad huh?! Plastic surgery is good :)

 

Time to play the levels over, but this time in female form

 

A big, green flying head is angry at you

 

Here, use your satellites to destroy the mechanical spiders

 

Stage 13, the last stage at last! Feel like having some spaghetti with tomatoe?

 

The last stage has a quick, smooth scrolling. Speedy, flying-brains will come from the bottom dangerously

 

The last boss is a pulsating heart with 4 heads stuck into it which fire swastika projectiles (I do not kid you...)! Cut-off the umbilical cord first and then take care of the heads

 

Last boss Part 2: destroy the horn first (it will take an insane amount of time) and then go for the little head underneath.

 

The end

Review - Androgynous means to have characteristics of both male and female.

Plato and some other Greek philosophers use to think that humans were originally “an androgynous whole”, later divided into male and female but ultimately aspiring to be complete again.

Androgynus by Telenet is spelled differently maybe because of a spelling mistake (the game is full of typical Engrish words such as the “Congraturation” screen upon finishing a level) although we'll never know for sure what is the true story behind the title of this game...I know you won't sleep at night because of this but anyways, let's try to look at the actual game now :)

What is striking is that it is a very uncommon shooter. It has a vertical scrolling but instead of scrolling from the bottom to the top like in any vertical shooter, you'll be going downward.

You'll be in control of a anthropomorphic robot (a cyborg?) initially equipped with a standard gun and a couple of rotating satellites which can be used as shields or as weapons. The satellites will be life-saving because you'll often be required to slalom your way out of several deadly clusters of bullets and enemies. Weapons and power ups will regularly show up and each offer some unique properties. For example, the lasers will pierce through anything but have almost no spread.

The weapon selection is fairly varied and equipping the right weapon will sure give you an easier time in trying to pass levels (although it is possible to finish the game even if equipped with the standard gun).

Graphically, Androgynus does not stand out compared to other MSX games. Being exclusively compatible with MSX-2 computers (and above), I was expecting more. The scrolling is a bit jerky although this isn't too annoying, while backgrounds tend to be drawn simply and do not have much detail.

On the good side, there is practically no flickering and even in the most crowded bits, the game will not slow down and this is pretty impressive considering the amount of things that happen on the screen in certain situations. The main sprite is fairly big and decently drawn although regular enemies do not look particularly inspired. Also, bosses aren't that cool, especially in the first two stages but they do get cooler as you move on into the quest.

Overall, I would say the graphics in this game are just average. The music is actually well done and it seems to use the MSX2 sound chips the way it should.

As of game-play, not only Androgynus is an atypical shooter but it is also hard. Very hard. I had a pretty hard time even reaching level 2 initially because everything screams old-school in here. Enemy waves come unexpectedly from the top and the bottom of the screen and…from the side as well! Some of them are so fast and move in such unpredictable ways that you will hardly understand what's going on as you'll be cut to pieces in an eye blink .

To make progress, you will be required to learn to use your satellites for defensive and offensive purpose because they will often be the last barrier between hostile enemy-fire and you. Get hit once and you lose the satellites, get hit again and you lose a life. Sometimes, you'll come across additional armor but that doesn't happen very often. Your main character is pretty slow but luckily the game will be generous with speed ups so this evens out slightly the odds of this incredible challenge.

Pattern memorization, a hefty dose of quick reflexes and patience will get you through Androgynus but frustration will kick in inexorably after you try for the millionth time to get through the same impossible spot!

For a moment, let's just pretend you manage to finish the 6 levels of the game and that you finally kill the last boss (or the thing YOU THINK is the last boss). You'll be rewarded with some very cool anime-style hand-drawn cut-scenes but then, you'll be sent back to…level 1 (called level 7) but this time, you'll be controlling a women! That's right, to see the last stage and the real ending you'll have to play all the levels a second time to reach level 13, the final level…

I found this to be a bit cheap but I must say that going through the game for the second time proved to be easier because practice makes perfect I guess :)

In the end, Androgynus is a highly original, extremely challenging shooter that I would only recommend to die-hard shooter maniacs because it isn't technically breathtaking but it has addictive game-play once you dig into the play-mechanics.

To play it, either get the original MSX2 set-up required or go for the emulator + ROM. You can also try to venture into PC-88 territory and play that version although good luck with that!

Regardless of what you do, if you decide to play this game get ready for some really intense and unforgiving shmup action because Androgynus is a harsh descent into the deepest recesses of Hell.

By pressing F1, you'll be able to pause the game to give your fingers a rest while the only ray of hope I can give you to try to finish the game is that once you lose all your lives, press F2 while the gameover music is playing to continue from where you last died. Don't like infinite continues? Trust me, in this game you will love them!!

On a side note, the instruction manual is richly decorated with some beautiful black and white artwork. Nice!

Bottom line: a rather different shooter, with an interesting twist as far the the "plot" is concerned. Very hard but fun to play if you can get past the steep learning curve....7/10

 

Apparently, Androgynus is not an MSX2 exclusive since it was also released on an obscure Japanese computer called PC-88 in the end of 1987. These two screenshots seem to suggest that at least graphically, the PC-88 version is better.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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