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CONSOLE: Arcade DEVELOPER: Taito PUBLISHER: Taito
RELEASE DATE (JP): 1989 GENRE: Shmup
// review by SoyBomb

Sounds like a bad sitcom.

Sometimes games just fade into obscurity, never to be heard from again. That's why we here at Random.access are here to serve you! We'll get out our proverbial shovels and start digging for gold like bright-eyed miners. But minors won't remember a game like this. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, vertical and horizontal shmups came a dime a dozen, especially in the arcades, so it's not difficult to believe that many of them fell to the wayside in favour of the R-Types, the Raidens, and yes, even the Gradii. I present one more, courtesy of Taito, the company behind many arcade classics.

The game is called Asuka & Asuka, and the reasoning behind this is a total mystery. I suppose it's safe to assume that the main character is named Asuka, but because this can be a two-player game, I'm also making the assumption that the second character is also named Asuka. But we don't even get to see the pilots themselves; we only see the jet fighters, codenamed the "Flying Bird". Let's just say the pilots are siblings, and their last names are both Asuka. Sound good?

But things are not as simple as jet fighters against other jet fighters in an all-out war of the skies. The Earth has been invaded by the Galaxie Highters, led by the evil Lanian. That's right, the "Galaxie Highters". I did not spell that incorrectly; they did. There isn't an introductory sequence telling us exactly what's going on, but I can tell you that those Galaxie Highters are capable to occupying space in multiple timelines, resulting in a takeover not only of space but of time, meaning that while modern day citizens are being threatened, dinosaurs are also under siege... which is difficult to imagine, since technically, we are not living in the same time frame as the dinosaurs, even though the Galaxie Highters are attacking timelines simultaneously. Ask your local theoretical physicist for details.


If you ever dreamed of shooting down a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a jet fighter, now's your chance.

What exactly belies this wacky storyline, however, is a rather generic vertical shmup. All the typical elements are in place. You are piloting that "Flying Bird", which doesn't look any different than any other standard plane. You start out with a pair of missiles as your main method of defense; by picking up powerups, you can increase the number of missiles you shoot out, increasing your overall offensive strength. You can also snag a couple of other weapons to use instead, if that tickles your fancy. In addition, you also get a few special bomb missiles that cause a massive explosion, doing major damage to everything on screen. That's been done before, and that's not exactly a creatie decision; on the other hand, to omit that feature would be rather devastating to shmup fans.

There are only four stages in this entire game, and although the game can be completed in about twenty minutes or so, they feel as though they drag on and on... and on... Even after defeating the boss at the end, the stage isn't over! They force you to fight some orange jets that fly up from behind you (a cheap move, if I do say so myself), while the background scrolls so quickly, you'll be searching the arcade cabinet for a "Dispense Barf Bag" button. There isn't one, by the way, so stop looking.

Enemy design ranges from the absolutely mundane to sanity-questioning. Bland gray and purple ships? They're in there. Generic scorpions? Can't live without 'em. Giant silver skull heads? Have a bunch of those, too. The graphics will hardly have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief, and although the music is a bit more peppy, it gets repetitive very quickly. So what could possibly make this game stand out at all?

In the second stage, you fight against dinosaurs. When you defeat one, it will either explode or simply burn into the ground, leaving an embered crater.

Game of the Year material. Triple-AAA title. Goodnight, folks!


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