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Undead Line

version: jp - year: 1990 - developer: t&e soft - publisher: t&e soft - format: x68000, 3 disks - condition: good - rarity: very

Undead Line running on my X68000 XVI, using a Mega Drive pad via the Capcom CPS joypad adaptor.

 

The beautiful use of parallax and the amazing color palette give to this version an extra layer of shine

 

Power up your stats by picking up hidden fairies throughout levels

 

The last level is a nightmare

 

Here, I use the magic-warrior" through a change of class. Notice that the invisibility spell allows to pass through bullets unharmed.

 

Here, I got to the last boss with the wizard only to be annihilated by his super powerful attacks...what to do?!

 

The solution is to come back with the magic-warrior equipped with super powerful axes.

 

In like 5 seconds, the last boss is gone, without even having the chance to attack once. Yes that's right, go home princess!

 

The ending sequence is different from the other versions of this game

 

Time to celebrate!

 

The End

Review - UndeadLine is a fantasy themed vertical shooter originally released by T&E Soft exclusively for two of the most popular Japanese computers of the late 1980s, early 1990s, namely the 8 bit MSX2 and the 16 bit Sharp X68000 personal computers. A third and final version of the game was also released on Sega's 16 bit Mega Drive and that version is the one that is usually known in the west.

I first played and finished the MSX2 version of UndeadLine a few years ago and I literally fell in love with it. I liked the game so much I decided to play the other versions as well. So I got the Mega Drive version because it was the easiest to find and then I started my quest to find the X68000 version. Finding the X68 version was hard but getting it to run on an original X68000 computer took me years!!! I guess I didn't really understand how many problems are associated with trying to get a computer such as the X68000 up and running in Europe. Not only it is expensive because of shipping costs but there are a number of technical issues which need to be overcome as well (more details on the main X68000 page).

Anyways, after many years I was finally able to sit down and play UndeadLine on an original X68000 setup, just as if I was in the 1990s! The game comes onto three 5.25" disks but loading time is fast. There is some disk swapping required though (the first four levels are onto disk two and the others are on disk three).

This X68000 version is largely based on the MSX2 version although there are some differences.

The X68000 version includes two extra levels and has no slowdown. The last level is also completely changed and in my opinion it is not as good.

Cut-scenes are also changed in this version of the game, the super cool anime sequence before the last level of the MSX2 game has been left out and to be honest, I think it is a big shame because the game loses some atmosphere.

The music is similar to the MSX2 version, but it is missing a couple of memorable tunes.

About the gameplay, this X68 incarnation is certainly more similar to the MSX2 version rather than the MD release:

1- Fairies are hidden around levels (they are not in plain sight like in the MD version)
2-, you can choose among the fighter, the wizard and the ninja just like in the MSX2 version (in the MD version, only the fighter is available)

One thing in common to all three versions is the brutal difficulty level though!

To give you an idea, I had to go though the game on 1 life (yes that's right!) in order to face the last boss fully powered up and stand any chance at all against him... And that was hard as hell to do!

STRATEGY - Now a little note on the strategy I used to finish the game.

After many attempts, I found out that picking up the warrior armed with the axes as a weapon worked best for me against the last boss, but not for the rest of the game. Let me explain:

You can of course play the 8 initial levels in any order but I recommend playing them is this order: 5-8-7-6-4-3-2-1.

So I started on stage five (the cave) to face the dragon boss with fully powered up axes. Axes are a Warrior-class weapon that can be quickly powered up in this level. Using the maxed-out axe, it is possible to decapitate the three dragon's heads fairly quickly compared to other weapons which are not as effective here and can take a very long time to kill this boss.

Also, what I did was to level up my character as much as I could focusing on the Warrior stats (ST-Strength). Managing to pick up most of the fairies (there are 3 per level), enabled me to reach 20 or 22 points for Strength and 14 or 16 for Speed by the time I reached the last level.

For the rest of the levels, I switched to the Option weapon. It looks like an egg and works like the options in Gradius, it has very good spread and it gave me total control over what is happening on the screen. Options (or satellites) also cover a wide portion of the screen in terms of firepower, so it is easier to uncover hidden fairies this way.

Options are a Wizard-class weapon though, so they can only be upgraded if you play the game as the Wizard.

I tried resisting through all the levels using the Warrior equipped with Options while increasing the Warrior-related stats (meaning the Option/Egg weapon I was using wasn't getting any stronger).

Before starting the last level though, I changed class from Warrior to Wizard in order to be able to use the invisibility/invincibility spell, which only the Wizard can perform.

Invisibility allows to simply pass through the bullet showers which await in level 9.

Unfortunately, when using the invisibility spell, it is impossible to fire back at enemies but enemies can inflict harm by simply smashing onto you, and that's nasty because it drains a lot of health.

My desperate plan was in motion!

The idea was to get to the last level by repeatedly increasing only the Warrior-related stats and by mostly using the Option weapon.

I now was controlling a Wizard who could throw super powerful axes (maybe the strongest weapon in the game, but with very little spread).

If you get to the last level, I should say the first part of the level is almost impossible if you use the axe and the shield, the latter being the special ability of the Warrior. The best combination for this level is by far the invisibility spell and the Options, but the Options dont work well for the final boss...

So I used the Options to shield myself from the relentless enemy swarms crowding the screen from everywhere and the invisibility spell to pass through their fire barrage.

After surviving that first onslaught, I immediately picked up the axe to the left side of the column room right before the moving platforms. Remember that I went through a class change before the last level, so I was effectively in control of a Wizard now but with great stats for the Axe, and I could also use the all-important Wizard-related invisibility spell.

By the way, it is important to pick up the axe when fully powered up (meaning you powered up your weapon by picking it up several times in a row) otherwise failure will strike!

Passing the moving platform section was frustrating. I usually took the path completely to the right and I tended to use the invisibility spell a lot to avoid stray bullets. Problem is that if you never shoot in order to avoid exposing yourself to bullets, some flying harpies will inevitably smash onto you, pushing you off the moving platforms into the void (resulting in a lost life and having to restart the level with a booger-weapon), so be ready to shoot them down as they come from the side of the screen.

After this part, there's a last swarm section before the final boss encounter.

I won't lie to you, this part of the level is hard if you are equipped with the axe because you don't have much spread and enemies will come from everywhere. The key here is to resist as much as you can and to pick up the two last chests (health and extra armor) right before the last room. If you manage this, the boss will be history even before you get into the room. Getting in here with the powered up axe will grant you victory in below 7 seconds, I am serious. You just have to go as far up as possible and start shooting as soon as you can like a true maniac. The boss won't even have time to react as you'll be chopping him up to pieces in an eye-blink!

I got to the last boss with the Wizard equipped with the fully powered up Options several times. Problem is that Options are simply not powerful enough in my opinion since the last boss will have time to go nuts on you with all kinds of devastating tricks and hard to dodge attack patterns...

...so my advice? Just go the axe way using the Magic-Warrior !!!

Bottom line: UndeadLine for X68000 is a fantastic shooter, with a lot of depth. The attractive graphics with parallax (mostly missing from the other versions), the varied levels and the fantastic music coupled with the hardcore but balanced difficulty make for a memorable experience. Still, the best version remains the one for MSX2 despite the less powerful hardware it runs on...9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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