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Last Hope

version: region free, limited edition - year: 2007 - developer: ng:dev.team - publisher: redspotgames - format: dreamcast, cdrom - condition: mint - rarity: very

2500 copies of Last Hope for DC were made (2000 for the regular release and 500 for the Limited Edition). The game was released on cd-rom (not on gdrom) so it is not compatible with all dreamcast consoles. The Limited Edition comes in a double jewel-case and looks just like an official Dreamcast release. It also features a hand-written numeration on the back of the spine. Mine is 410/500.

 

The atmospheric soundtrack composed by Rafael Dyll (who later also worked on Söldner-X) is printed on an awesome-looking vinyl-CD. That's definitely retro!

 

Rotate your satellite to obtain cover from enemy bullets (not lasers!)

 

Although tactical, gameplay in Last Hope can't be considered slow since there's lots of stuff happening all the time

 

The Neo-Geo roots are sometimes very evident. More colors on screen for the Dreamcast release would have been better but it's ok ;)

 

Level 4 is called Katakis, to pay homage to the superb Amiga/C64 R-Type clone coded by German developer Factor 5. There are citations of other amiga games too, like Shadow of the Beast for one of the backgrounds ;)

 

Level 5 boss requires the use of the rotary pod in order to be defeated. Very challenging but a cakewalk compared to the last boss which is a totally insane fight!

 

I finished the game on Easy mode on my 2nd try and it took me about 3hrs and a half! This is hardcore stuff :)

Review - Last Hope is a side-scrolling 2D shooter which pays homage to the great “tactical” shooters of the past such as R-Type.

It took about 6 years to be released first on the Neo-Geo AES as an ultra-limited cartridge (only 60 copies were ever made!) and then it made a welcome transition first to the Dreamcast as a regular and a limited edition (the latter as a Playasia.com exclusive), and then to the Neo-Geo CD.

Made by German independent game developer NG:DEV.TEAM, and published by Redspotgames, the Dreamcast port of Last Hope is basically pixel-perfect while it also includes a few exclusive features such as a 16-bit CD soundtrack, VMU support for saving, a lowered difficulty level, a reduction of explosions / particle effects for more clarity on screen and finally an improved visualization of boss hit zones.

Despite the tweakings, Last Hope on Dreamcast is one of the hardest shooters on the machine… and purposefully! I read the blog on the official website of NG:DEV.TEAM, and theirs is truly a tribute to old-school tactical 2D shooters such as R-Type, Last resort and Pulstar. And by tactical, they mean patterns and enemy waves memorization and checkpoints restart (rather than instant-restart).

Here, you'll have to earn the right to see a level in its entirety, conquering checkpoints after checkpoints as you dig deeper and deeper into enemy territory.

Last Hope should therefore be appreciated for what it wants to achieve, which is to bring back a bit of the lost and unforgiving magic of the early tactical shooters right into the era of PS3, Xbox360 and Wii.

The graphics definitely have the look and feel of 16bit technology, and the best of it too! Sprites are detailed and varied, enemy ships rendered à la Pulstar, backgrounds are hand-drawn with amazing skill and attention to detail, colors manage to be vibrant despite the color palette limitations and all this goodness is framed within a melodic, dreamy techno soundtrack which contributes to create a unique feel and atmosphere to this incredible challenge.

You should keep in mind that for the Dreamcast standard, Last Hope graphics will look a bit obsolete (forget about the high-tech sharpness of Border Down for instance), but comparing Last Hope to other Dreamcast shooters would miss the point. Last Hope was released on Dreamcast not to fully take advantage of the console's capabilities, but rather to make the game accessible to a wider audience. In this respect, NG:DEV.TEAM effort is priceless.

About gameplay, there is the energy beam (R-type style) and a 360° rotating satellite which must be used proficiently in order to survive wall-mounted turrets and other enemies. There is no way around these two weapons if you plan on advancing through space-hell. Last Hope brings back a challenge from the old days, forgotten and brutally resurrected in the era of instant continues and adaptive difficulty. It took 6 years to see the light and in the end, Last Hope is a work of love for which its occasionally dubious collision-detection and its visibility issues (debris which sometimes can be confused with enemy fire) should be entirely forgiven.

It would be totally unjust to label Last hope as another unbalanced euro-shmup, since it actually is the closest thing you can get to a great old-school Japanese 2D side-scrolling shooter.

Honestly, the only thing I was disappointed about was the ending which is really bare-bone and which basically consists on the credits roll and that's it...

Also, judging from a youtube clip, the Neo-Geo AES version should include CG cut-scenes between levels, which are nowhere to be seen in this port, even when playing Arcade Mode. If this is really the case, it would be only fair for the courageous people out there who shelled out 550€ to get the home cart...

To conclude, I am really thankful to Timm and René Hellwig, the two-men team who brought us Last Hope and I also would like to thank Rafael Dyll, for creating an unforgettable OST for the game…

Bottom line: a surprising and atmospheric side-scrolling shooter which brings back the challenge of the old days....8,5/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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