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Dux

version: region free, ltd edition w/ ost, unofficial release - year: 2009 - developer: kontechs ltd - publisher: hucast.net - format: dreamcast, cd-rom - condition: mint - rarity: very

The production run of the limited edition was as low as 500 copies. This is number 004/500 as can be seen on the lower-right corner of the back-cover.

 

After finishing Dux 1.0 (and 1.5), this message appears after the credits announcing Redux. Looking at it now, it sounds more like a curse instead of something to look forward to.

 

By sending an e-mail with proof of purchase/ ownership of the limited edition of Dux, for a limited time, Hucast sent a "Revision" disc (Dux 1.5 above) to customers who applied for it by charging only for shipping cost.

 

Since I own a low serial number of DUX LE , Hucast was kind enough to also send me a boxed copy of Dux 1.5!

Review - As a post-mortem Dreamcast release, Dux (meaning Leader in Latin) is a hi-res cute’em up paying tribute to R-Type.

First thing first, the professionally manufactured packaging with its quality full color manual sport an elegant and essential graphical theme with a prevalence of white, orange and pink which bring to mind the white Dreamcast console. This style also extends to the in-game menu and graphics, which is really a nice touch which helps differentiate Dux from the tons of other shooters on Sega's last home console system.

Graphically very colorful and reminiscent of Sega’s Fantasy Zone, Dux manages to have its own specific style which blends huge cartoony sprites with super colorful and busy backgrounds.

In fact, backgrounds are so busy (especially in the first two levels) that it is possible to exclude them partially or completely to improve the visibility of bullets and enemies in the option screen.

The visibility issue proved to be a problem for me only when I first started playing the game. As soon as I familiarized myself with the levels, this issue simply ceased to be a problem as I knew what to expect and learned where to focus.

One weird thing about the graphics though is the ship you control which is very flat and is as two-dimensional as it gets!

About the gameplay, Dux isn’t strictly just an R-Type rehash with a new paint job though, because there is one defining difference: the ability of your ship to soak bullets.

As you make progress and shoot enemies, a bar at the bottom of the screen will gradually fill up and by pressing the right trigger of the Dreamcast controller (“R” button), the ship will absorb bullets and effectively become almost invincible. I say almost because you’ll still crash onto backgrounds or enemies if you’re not careful.

Interestingly, the more bullets you absorb, the more time it will take for the meter to deplete, allowing you to soak even more bullets! The beauty of this system is that it allows for some horizontal-scrolling bullet hell action because tons of bullets, enemies and background animations will be littering the screen, threatening to strain your retina…

To make any meaningful progress in the game, you’ll have to time carefully when to soak bullets (usually aim for the busiest portions of a level and you’ll be ok) and you’ll also be required to memorize at least some of the enemy patterns and levels.

I found Dux to be very unforgiving the first couple of games I played but once I understood the mechanics, I was quickly able to finish the game on 1 credit.

It is worth mentioning that Dux can also count on a very involving soundtrack which really benefits the game’s overall appeal. The music in the Xexex-like level 5 is really inspired and makes the playing experience even stronger.

One of the weaknesses I found in the game though is that boss fights tend to play too similar one to the other with very little to differentiate the tactic you need to use to defeat them.

Also, the option menu is bare bone and doesn't allow to set the difficulty, the number of ships or to configure the controls. The game limits you to three continues and awards you with extra lives when you reach certain scores.

Another strange thing is that once you lose a credit, you're forced to continue (until you use up your 3 continues stock) and the score does not reset meaning that the incentive to finish the game on the least amount of credits vanishes completely.

Now, I’d like to spend a few words on the hate this game received especially on the forum of shmups.com where the developer actually posted comments and replies to the community over there.

Because of a bug which granted infinite lives / score, the developer got heavily criticized for minimizing the issue and finally not addressing it at all, not even with a patch as initially stated. The issue was partially remedied in early 2013 when Hucast started sending a revision disc (Dux 1.5) almost for free for a limited time to owners of the limited edition of Dux who applied for it.

I have to say that I played the game several times over a week time and the bug never showed up. I played on a Japanese Dreamcast connected via RGB SCART on a Pal/NTSC Sony Trinitron TV and on a VGA monitor via the Dreamcast official VGA Box.

Apparently, the bug only shows up on 50Hz TV when using a Pal Dreamcast. As I said, this bug may be annoying to some but I wasn’t affected.

Other than the negatives highlighted above, I must say that Dux is an entertaining, challenging and beautiful shooter which truly takes advantage of the Dreamcast audio/video capabilities as it was specifically developed for it and it is not a port from the Neo-Geo hardware like Last Hope or Fast Striker (from the same developer).

Bottom line: A shmup which despite its flaws can easily fight it out with the best Japanese 2D shooters out there...8,5/10

 

P.S. Notes on Dux 1.5

Presented and considered by many as the definitive version of Dux, Dux 1.5 fixes the scoring bug and provides a more accessible difficulty level together with a new soundtrack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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