Review – Vasara Collection

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: in this day age, in good ol’ 2019, I’ll take any Playstation Vita release I can get. Mostly because I want to give that underrated gem of a system as much exposure as possible before its eventual demise. I’ve played some terrible stuff this year, such as NightCry and Drowning, but it’s oh so satisfying when you end up getting a very good game that just fits perfectly with the system’s portability. I present to you theĀ Vasara Collection.

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If you decide to play the game on horizontal mode, your playing area will literally be comprised of just a third of the screen.

I’m not even going to try to pretend that I knew anything about Vasara prior to playing it. I had to do some research and find out about this super obscure franchise. Those games were released in 2000 and 2001, respectively, for arcade cabinets in Japan. They were developed by Visco, one of the very few companies not called SNK that developed and published titles for the Neo Geo platforms. Those games are vertically-scrolling space shooters set in an alternate timeline where Feudal Japan had access to spaceships, bombs, lasers, and so on.

To be fair, while those games are nowhere near as “classic” as their marketing campaigns might suggest, I’m not going to deny the fact that they are pretty good. Dated, but good. Just like Ikaruga, RXN Raijin and Radiant Silvergun, those games are all about dodging more bullets than what the average human eye can see, all while making sure that everything onscreen eventually explodes. It’s the kind of fast-paced arcade shooter that I like, with really tight controls and weapons that pack a lot of punch.

That being said, those games are old. They were originally released way before horizontal aspect ratios were a thing, so you may wonder how do they look on the Vita’s very horizontal screen. You have two options, each one with advantages and disadvantages. If you decide to play the game on horizontal mode, you’ll get sharper visuals and an easier grip, but the entire game will only take a third of the Vita’s already small screen. If you decide to play the game on vertical mode (yes, flipping your Vita sideways), you’ll get a much larger screen size, as well as surprisingly decent controls. With that being said, not only will the visuals look extremely stretched (those were the days in which 480i was considered high-definition), but you’ll also look extremely silly while playing the title. No matter which aspect ratio you choose, the sound department will be the same: really good Japanese tunes hindered by excessive compression. Pick your poison.

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They managed to make Feudal Japan even more cray cray.

If you still own and care about your Vita in 2019, do give Vasara Collection a chance. Those games aren’t exactly what I would consider arcade shooter classics, but they feature decent visuals, tight controls, an ideal level of difficulty and a ton of replayability. It’s a little collection that’s perfect for short bursts in a pick-up-and-play fashion, and perfect for a portable like the Vita.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Even though it’s a collection old games, they still hold up due to their bright colors and great art style. Playing it on a horizontal aspect ratio will reduce the playable screen size to only a third of the Vita’s screen, and playing it on vertical mode will give the game an excessively stretched look, though. Pick the style that will bother you less.

Gameplay: 9.0

The controls are simple and very responsive. The overall game feel is excellent, as blowing tons of enemies up is delightful. The game even works quite well on vertical mode, even though you’ll look completely silly while the playing the Vita that way.

Sound: 7.0

A soundtrack comprised of tunes that are heavily influenced by classical Japanese music. There’s also a bit of voice acting in here. The entire sound department is heavily compressed, however, making all tunes and voice clips sound dated, even for 2000 standards.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Both games look nice and are challenging enough to make you want to play them over and over again. There’s also a nice selection of different characters with different playstyles in each title. Those are small games, but they are perfect for a portable like the Vita.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Vasara Collection is available now on PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PS Vita.

A copy of Vasara Collection was provided by the publisher.