Learn what you're missing now that one of the last GC games for North America has been canceled.
Radio Allergy was supposed to be the last original IP game released for GameCube. Unfortunately, timing and demand conspired against the US publisher, O~3 Entertainment, and the game was ultimately canceled. The game’s developer, Milestone, is looking to include the game as part of a collection on Wii. For now, if you want to play the game, you’ll have to import it. Radirgy, the original Japanese name of Radio Allergy, is an arcade shoot-em-up initially released on the Naomi/Dreamcast platform, much like its predecessor Chaos Field as well as Treasure's Ikaruga. Like those two games, Radirgy is a vertical shooter with “bullet hell" elements. Unlike those games, Radirgy features distinctive cel-shaded graphics.
Radirgy stars a blue-haired schoolgirl named Shizuru Kamigusa, who is sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. Her father worked for a corporation that was developing a remedy for the condition, but a terrorist group took over their building. Shizuru mans a flying mechanical “terminal suit" to take on the terrorists and recover her father and the medicine. The story is a little out there, like much Japanese anime, and there are some peculiarities that add to the game’s character, such as the terrorist leader, Luki Michima. For no apparent reason, she dresses in schoolgirl outfits and sports white dreadlocks. Overall, the story is superfluous and actually becomes an annoyance within the game. Dialog is peppered throughout the game, appearing on the playfield, and must be dismissed by pressing a button. This is quite distracting during what should be an intense arcade experience and can thankfully be turned off.
Compared to games like Ikaruga, which were heavily based on patterns and ship formation, Radirgy’s approach to level design seems simply aimed at overwhelming the player with swarms of patternless particles. As a bullet hell-style shooter, the collision zone of the ship is quite small, allowing players to navigate around an otherwise impossible orgy of projectiles. Boss battles change the formula a bit, switching into more regular pattern generators. A midway boss appears in each level, but it’s the end-of-stage bosses that posses the impressive firepower. Later bosses leave almost no quarter for the player, unleashing varied barrages of bullets and other attacks. Unfortunately, I experienced a few cases of severe slowdown within the game, possibly due to the number of elements on screen.
Before the game begins, a single type of artillery is chosen from “wide shot" projectiles, “123 lasers," and bubbly “soap bullets." Each of these weapon types possesses different range and speed characteristics that slightly alter the strategy that must be used when playing the game. Additionally, different types of ships may be selected, each with their own handling attributes. Weapons are powered up throughout the game and never reduce in power, even after death. Unfortunately, weapon types cannot be switched once the game starts.
The ship also includes an “Absnet" superweapon to be used especially when the player is about to be overwhelmed by attacks. The Absnet weapon is charged by collecting capsules that appear after enemies are defeated. Once the gauge is filled and the weapon engaged, a wide shield will form around the terminal suit and eventually expand to wipe out all minor enemies and projectiles. If done properly, it is possible to set off Absnet several times in succession by rapidly recharging. Players can experiment with the risky challenge of collecting the necessary capsules to charge the weapon or just do their best focusing on more traditional shooting and evasion techniques. An ironic ability considering the malady of its pilot, the terminal suit can absorb electromagnetic waves, which will increase the score multiplier.
If the player does not use weapons for a short period of time, Shizuru’s terminal suit will raise a shield, though the shield cannot block all attacks. The mech is also equipped with a short-range sword, much like Chaos Field and Radiant Silvergun. The sword can only cut through the same enemies and bullets that guns can destroy, but it does possess an additional power, the ability to deflect items. This deflection leads to one of many unique gameplay approaches: items and power-ups can be juggled using the sword while also firing normal weapons. In this way, items can be effectively “stored" until their use is required.
As with many shooters of this type, the game only includes five stages and tries to hinge replayability on its difficulty. The game includes three difficulty levels, and also allows you to change the number of bars in your life meter and the scores required to gain extra lives. Even on lower levels of difficulty, the game isn’t shy about throwing plenty of artillery at you after the first few levels. Radirgy includes an Arcade Mode, Score Attack Mode, and Manpuku (Full Belly) Mode. Manpuku Mode starts players off with full weapons power and allows the score multiplier to reach 256x rather than the normal limit of 16x.
Radirgy supports the standard vertical mode, which means the playing field only fills half of the screen. Coupled with the cel-shaded style and large amount of particles, it can be harder to keep track of what is going on than it should be. O~3 Entertainment had planned a progressive scan mode for the US version, which would have helped immensely, but unfortunately, the original Japanese version lacks this support. A horizontal mode is also available, but unlike Ikaruga, which let you choose horizontal controls to go with the horizontal display, you’re stuck with vertical controls in the game. This means you have to either turn your TV on its side or play lying on your side, neither of which is terribly feasible. The import version also has save problems when using Freeloader.
Situated somewhere between cute-em-ups of the 16-bit era and more traditional shooters, Radirgy is a decent shooter with a unique appearance. Despite its looks, Radirgy is a fairly standard arcade-style shooter with average level design, and most of the fun comes from finding new ways of playing through the game. Though not of the same caliber as Treasure shooters, Radirgy is still a fun diversion for shoot-em-up fans. The import version may be hard to attain now, but perhaps we’ll see it release on Wii as part of a larger collection.