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Karous

version: jp - year: 2007 - developer: milestone - publisher: milestone - format: dreamcast, gdrom - condition: mint - rarity: uncommon

Karous is a port from the Naomi arcade board and this DC version has VGA support. It is interesting to note that you are limited to only 3 credits to get through the game (you cannot unlock any extra credits)

 

The Dreamcast attached to a standard (and venerable) VGA monitor via the Dreamcast VGA box.

 

The emo heroine may be the one you control in the game, but I couldn't really tell from the feet hanging in the air, sorry!

 

Review - Karous meaning Crow in Japanese is the nemesis of Radirgy, at least from a chromatic point of view. Cell-shaded graphics return but this time, the color palette is a mixture of blacks, whites and greys and there is no trace of the happier theme from Radirgy anywhere.

I initially played the game using a euro SCART connector and as usual with these games, the standard display orientation adapted for living room TVs has huge and horrendous borders on the side, and the actual playing field feels small and crowded.

Of course, Tate mode is also usually available, but I didn’t feel like turning the TV on the side so I endured the pain in silence. After all, I played Radirgy before in the same configuration and I thought it wasn't too bad.

With Karous, I used the same set-up until I realized that the graphics flickered a bit because just like Radirdy's graphics, they had been designed with VGA support in mind.

In a blink of inspiration, I remembered I had a 20 years old VGA monitor somewhere in my garage, so…I resurrected it from there, turned it on the side and…playing Karous on it proved to be an entirely different experience!!

For one thing, it is easier to see the character you control on-screen. It still took me a while to figure what it actually is but I believe it should be some kind of person dressed up like a crow flying on what seems like a motorized glider! It’s pretty awesome how in VGA mode, it is possible to spot the legs hanging in the air and moving as you move.

Anyways, Karous features 5 levels just like in Radirgy, and it also shares a similar weapons system although it has been refined to…dare I say it?...perfection!

It took me a few runs to start appreciating the new system, which again includes a ranged shot, a plasma sword and a shield. This time though, each weapon will upgrade depending on how often you use it. Obviously the first few tries I upgraded the regular shot but I realized I was missing something.

After I gathered a few tips from the Shmups Forum, here I was changing my playing style completely while focusing on upgrading the shield and the sword, and using the rechargeable smart bomb almost in a chain.

The beauty of this game is that enemies do not kill you so you can just go on top of them but bullets of course will kill you although you can cancel some of them.

The shield is a very weird weapon as you can sometimes just sit there against a boss and do nothing. The shield will defend yourself from any attacks, it will also upgrade with every hit it takes and when it reaches level 50, it will return several devastating boomerang-shaped shots to the enemies.

Strangely, it is also possible to time-out bosses and advance in the game like nothing happened… This may sound not very exciting, but Karous gameplay is so sophisticated in terms of thing you can do that you’ll start really having a feel of what is going on after many hours of play.

I played Karous for two days straight and I managed to finish the game on all difficulty settings but I could not manage to unlock the True Final Boss (TFB) because it requires that you find a hidden Milestone Icon in each level (so 5 icons in total), but I did not manage to collect all five of them during the same run as I collected only 4 in various orders during different games. I eventually had to give up but who knows, maybe one day I’ll give it another go.

Bottom line: Karous is an addictive shooter which shows how Milestone really came a long way from Chaos Field. This is a tight shooter, with a unique art style, an interesting hard house soundtrack, and an elegant and versatile playing system. For me? Karous has been a great reason to take the dust off my Dreamcast! 9/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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