Review – Ray’z Arcade Chronology

If you have never heard of the games included in the Ray’z Arcade Chronology, I don’t blame you. Back in the mid to late 90s, a new bullet hell shooter would be released nearly every single week. There are tons of them, way too many to remember, and not a lot of worth remembering. Due to sheer saturation, a lot of good ones are also forgotten. I’d say that’s the case with two games in particular in this collection. I was actually excited to try Ray’z Arcade Chronology out for a multitude of reasons, and I’m glad to say this is one of the best retro compilations available on the Nintendo Switch, and one of the best bullet hell titles available for the system.

Ray'z Arcade Chronology Graphics

It looks dated in a still, but it looks great in motion.

The first of the three games in the collection is possibly the most forgettable of them all. RayForce is not a bad shooter, but it is yet another vertical scrolling bullet hell game, with sprite-based graphics released back in the early 90s. Heavily influenced by Xevious, you had to pay attention to two layers of enemies: one in front of you, and one on the ground. You had to shoot lasers at the former and use your secondary weapon, guided missiles, on the latter. Not complex by any means, but engaging nonetheless. Sadly, RayForce is a victim of saturation. There are simply too many titles that are pretty similar to it in the market. The same cannot be said about the other two games available in the collection.

The highlight in Ray’z Arcade Chronology is RayStorm. You may have heard of this game before, for it is as iconic as other shooters from its time, such as Radiant Silvergun. It was also available on the PS1 and the Saturn back in the day. It takes the core gameplay of RayForce (as well as Xevious), but ups the ante with very impressive polygonal graphics… for 1996 standards, of course. It might look a little bit dated nowadays, especially in stills, but this game looks really good in motion, especially on smaller screen. Once more, RayStorm is NOT revolutionary, but it’s a game that knows how to feel exciting. The sheer amount of crap filling the screen at any given time makes every single level feel like the climax of an action movie.

Ray'z Arcade Chronology RayStorm

RayStorm is an underrated gem of a shooter.

RayCrisis is the last game in the collection, and it’s a weird one. It is a prequel to RayStorm, and it plays just like it, but it’s themed around supercomputers. In fact, the entire game is set inside one. Your ship is actually a computer virus. This results in even trippier visuals, but at the cost of an unnecessary focus on a story that I simply did not care about. The graphics, on the other hand, are outstanding. Released not long before Ikaruga dropped in Japan, RayCrisis features the most detailed levels and impressive spectacles of all three games in the Ray’z Arcade Chronology, all while retaining the same simple, yet effective control scheme.

Ray'z Arcade Chronology Auto

You can either manually aim and shoot your guided missiles, or just use an auto function and just mash B like a lunatic. Gotta love having options.

The overall consensus is that the three shooters in Ray’z Arcade Chronology aren’t groundbreaking, but are really fun to play. They all excel visually, despite not sounding nowhere as epic as they should have. Ikaruga or Radiant Silvergun, they simply are not. Every single game runs incredibly well, all courtesy of M2’s phenomenal remastering efforts. They even made sure to include a fully remastered and an untouched (but upscaled) port of each arcade game in the collection, just to brag about how much they have improved upon the original base versions. In fact, with the exception of issues stemming from the base games themselves, there isn’t a lot to complain about the Ray’z Arcade Chronology collection in general.

Ray'z Arcade Chronology RayCrisis

A shooter set inside a computer, where you play as a virus. That’s RayCrisis in a nutshell.

It’s just a very good compilation of fun, but overlooked bullet hell shooters. I did like RayStorm and RayCrisis more than RayForce, but all of the games included in Ray’z Arcade Chronology are leagues better than the vast majority of arcade shooters released back in the 90s. Add in M2’s godlike ability to remaster seemingly every single game they touch into ultimate improvements upon their original releases, and you know you’re in for a good time. The Nintendo Switch is plastered with bullet hell shooters and compilations, and I do understand if you’re already fed up with them, but Ray’z Arcade Chronology is easily one of the best available for it.


Graphics: 7.0

Some notable remastering efforts to make early polygonal games look less dated. Sure, they still do, but they run extremely well and are still charming as all heck.

Gameplay: 9.0

Not only are the controls fluid, responsive, and easy to learn, but each game in this collection features manual and automatic modes for the lock-on mechanic. You can concentrate on just wreaking havoc like a lunatic if you want to, and I’m all in on the idea.

Sound: 6.5

Even though the games in this collection are all about non-stop action, their soundtracks aren’t as hectic or epic as they should have been.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Fast-paced, with a ton of things flying onscreen, overpowered weapons, and cool mech designs. Those games have aged surprisingly well, all thanks to yet another fantastic retro collection by M2.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Ray’z Arcade Chronology is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Ray’z Arcade Chronology was provided by the publisher.