We were provided with a key from QUByte Interactive for this review. Vasara was released 18 years ago, by Visco. Not long from that, a year later to be precise, Vasara 2 was released from the same developers. Both of the games were released only in Japan as arcade exclusives. A long-time has passed from when these games saw their prime in the old cabinet arcades. Now, Vasara and Vasaras 2 are both coming to the West for the first time in the form of Vasara Collection for PS4 and PS Vita. Have both these games aged well, or should Vasara better have stayed in the arcades of Japan? Let’s find out!
Shmup at its best
Both Vasara games are at its core shmups. There’s every classic trope in the genera. Tons of flying objects, enemies all around, the literal fear of moving a millimeter in any direction and ending up exploding. Vasara has it all. Still, there’s a lot of uniqueness to both these titles. I truly won’t drill it down to its story and narrative, since what truly mesmerizes you from Vasara 1 and 2 is its gameplay. There’s some fun to have with the many playable characters and enemies as you piece together the story, especially when they drop some explosive and over the top lines that make you realize how Japanese and 2000’s Vasara is.
The gameplay is really addictive and has many mechanics that make it a unique game, like melee attacks and special “Vasara” attacks. I died hundreds of times over and over again. I had replayed each stage dozens of times and still find it fun to play, die and repeat. Vasara makes it fun to master its mechanics. Every time you come back, you master dashes to avoid incoming attacks a bit better and anticipate enemies with much more accuracy. The learning curve is there, in particular, if you have never been an arcade player and shmups are something that’s not prevalent in your gaming catalog. Vasara 1 and 2, both in its old-school regular mode and in its new Timeless 3D sprites, sports solid and addictive mechanics that translate really well to PS4.
The music is superb
One thing most arcade games have in common is how great and iconic their tunes are. Vasara Collection is no exception to this. The arcadey feel of its soundtrack has been adapted perfectly to PS4. I played the game on a 5.1 channel surround system and it was a blast to hear the music. A big part of the appeal is how great the sound mixing is. Shmups always keep your screen real state with tons of moving projectiles and enemies. This translates to a lot of sounds as well. This audio madness sounds perfectly mixed and matches beautifully with each of the compositions that accompany each stage.
The old Vasara and the new Vasara
You have several gameplay options for Vasara. You can select to play the first two games in classic mode, getting back all that arcade glory. The screen has borders and you have the central portion of it representing a vertical play zone as you would with any classic shmup. On the other hand, you have the Timeless mode, which allows you to play with any of the characters from Vasara 1 or Vasara 2 in a whole new revamped 3D aspect with widescreen and multiplayer support.
The old arcade feel included in the Vasara Collection is surely a great gift for those who love pixel art and arcade games. Even today, Vasara manages to look impressive after 18 years of its release. But, I must admit that my winning verdict goes to how great the game looks in its timeless modes. The whole game has been reworked from scratch. Its widescreen support is a game-changer, as it allows more action on-screen without it ever messy, even in multiplayer mode. The 3D models and the boss fights are top-notch as well.
Life is better with friends, and so is Vasara Collection
Depending on which gameplay mode you select, you will have the opportunity to get up to four friends to join you in your Vasara adventure. Vasara Collection isn’t an easy game, but, that is expected from an 18-year-old arcade game. This difficulty is translated well to its Timeless mode as well. This challenge remains, even when you’re accompanied by your loyal friend in local co-op. You are definitely going to have a good time if you play on your own, but you have guaranteed excitement if you and a couple of friends jump into the challenge!
Old school shines in Vasara Collection
In retrospective, Vasara Collection shows that old mechanics can be polished and uplifted to modernity. This game is a clear example of how to pay homage to one of gaming greatest eras, the arcades. If you’re an arcade purist, don’t hesitate for a moment and give Vasara Collection a shot. On the other hand, if you were never an arcade kid or were too young to have experienced it, this is a great title for you to realize how glorious those days were. In an amalgam of nostalgia and retro love, Vasara Collection is a must-play.
Speaking about old school style games, check our review Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night review.