Iridion 3D Advance (GBA)
Looks ain't everything...
By - Andrew S. Bub

Iridion is a Game Boy Advance launch title that Nintendo probably should have used to advertise their new handheld. It looks that good. It takes advantage of most of the Game Boy Advance's 32bit processing and rendering power, and most of the game's scenes and locations are extremely inventive and look far better than they actually play.

In fact, at first glance, Iridion will happily remind old school shooting fans of Nintendo's Starfox or Sega's classic Space Harrier series. It has a behind-the-back third-person viewpoint yet plays like a 3D game, using visual tricks to keep it's 2D bitmap objects coming right at your character (in Iridion's case: ship) and keeping you firing away as you go. Fire, dodge incoming fire, and pick up the floating power-ups. That's how both Starfox and Space Harrier worked and that's how Iridion is supposed to work. But it doesn't. Here's why...

The View

Iridion 3D Advance (GBA)

Game Type: Action
Developer: Shin'en
Publisher: Majesco
Platform: GBA

Buy Iridion 3D Advance
In a 3D third-person action game it's very important, crucial even, to make sure the player can see what the heck is going on. Starfox did this, if I recall correctly, by placing the ship just below your view and Harrier does it by shifting the view to the left or right. This ensures the player can see who is shooting at him and how to shoot back. In Iridion your ship is almost always in the way. Directly in the way, and you'll always be moving around and trying to see around yourself.

Another viewing problem concerns the bad guys. They aren't always distinctive and given the GBA's screen size, and the lighting problems, it's often hard to tell if that thing hurtling toward you is a big thing that's far away, or a small thing that's close by, or worse, if it's an enemy or a power-up, and lastly whether or not it's a good power up or a bad power up, etc., This will cause you to swerve to avoid things that aren't quite in line with you yet, swoop to catch things that are already passing, and continuously shoot at the wrong things.

Also, there's a reason why Starfox had such distinctive enemy fire and Space Harrier's enemy shots were giant fireballs. That reason is so you could see them coming at you and avoid them. Here enemy fire is shown either as tiny specks that rapidly kill you, or look like your own shots. Only rarely can you see them coming. Not good.

The Rest

The gameplay also only lets you use the A button. The A button fires, like a machine gun, or whatever else you pick up (that's actually the next problem, I'll get to that in a second), and you use the direction key to position yourself and move your crosshairs. You've got to wonder why there isn't a secondary weapon. Heck, even the ancient top down coin-op Xevious had a bomb secondary weapon, side-scrolling Defender had a smart bomb; there are countless examples. This leads to a situation where you're hitting one button constantly and trying to find a better weapon power-up. Since you can't choose to switch power-ups, you automatically switch to whatever you run into, you'll find yourself cursing the game when you're inadvertently switched to a lower powered weapon, because you failed to see or avoid, or identify (see the view section above) that power up.

Finally, there are no continues, multiplayer, or save slots. Sure multiplayer probably wouldn't be worth it with this sort of game, but the lack of save slots, and especially continues means writing down passwords and inputting them every time you play. An unnecessary annoyance for a game sold at this price (the MSRP is still toward the high end of the scale).

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