System: Neo Geo
Published by: Other
Review: Viewpoint is a classic diagonal scrolling shooter with an isometric point of view and was first released for the Neo Geo MVS (Multi Video System) arcade platform. Now before I go any further with this review, I must warn you to accept absolutely no substitutes for this game. Do not bother with the Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn/Genesis or even the Neo Geo CD versions of Viewpoint, because there's just too much slowdown in them and they don't look as good either.
I'm a huge fan of shooters, and Sega's Zaxxon was always one of my favorites as a kid because of the completely different isometric perspective it had, so when I first saw Viewpoint I knew I absolutely had to try it. What I didn't know what just how hard beating the game would prove to be. I have to say, without the ability to save states, I don't see how anybody could possibly beat this game without spending a FORTUNE in quarters. To say that there are a million ways for you to easily die would be an understatement. If you've ever played a games like Ikaruga, you know how the screen can seemingly be blanketed with gunfire at times with practically no place for you to hide. The same can be said for Viewpoint, only the gunfire moves faster and it's much harder to avoid being hit due to the odd perspective and all the other motion taking place on the screen.
Sounds frustrating, doesn't it? You bet your ass it is. But it's a good frustrating. A damned good frustrating! The levels are designed brilliantly, with a seemingly never-ending array of creative enemies looking to thwart your progress. I should also note that it features some extremely nice pre-rendered 3D graphics, which at the time of viewpoint's release, looked pretty impressive and they still hold up today. Some enemies move like a slinky, while others spin in every which direction (much likes the discs in Xevious), others are just completely random such as rolling wheels, fiery worms and robo-fish.
There are six levels in total, and some of them seem to go on forever due to how difficult it is to reach the end of them. With so much up against you, naturally you're going to need some help along the way. Your ship comes equipped with standard bullets, and you can hold the button down to charge a more powerful blast. You can also acquire two drones who will stay by your side at all times, firing additional bullets and absorbing some shots. If you're careful enough, you can even use the drones to run into and destroy certain enemies. Lastly, there are three mega weapons that you can gain on each level: a wall of fire, a nuclear bomb and a flurry of homing missiles. While they're all capable of dishing out a lot o' damage, the real trick is managing to save them for the boss fights at the end of each level. Believe me, you're gonna need 'em.
The boss fights in Viewpoint are absolutely phenomenal. Naturally, they take up a large portion of the screen, and they include a giant robotic crab, a totem pole, a fly, and more. Each boss goes through a variety of phases, and most of the time, when you think you've finally killed it, you quickly learn that you've only peeled off another layer and made it angrier. Also, be forewarned, level 5 is absolute hell because you have to fight all four of the bosses from the previous levels before you can fight the new one. Kind of odd they chose to do that on level 5 instead of level6, eh? Well, that's probably because level 6 is so hard that it feels like you're in a boss fight the entire time. Good luck making it to the final boss with all 3 mega weapons and your shields intact; it took me a friggin' eternity!
As if all this wasn't enough, it has a great, albeit funky soundtrack which actually features samples of the godfather of soul himself, James Brown. Yep, James Brown and a space-age shooter game... together at long last.
This is one of those games that, if you manage to beat it, you'll feel as though you've improved your hand-eye coordination tenfold as a result of it all. And while the ending itself isn't much more than seeing a planet explode and the credits awkwardly scroll by in the same isometric diagonal way as the game itself, being able to tell everybody "I beat Viewpoint!" should be rewarding enough. It's a truly unique title with impressive graphics, highly creative enemies and one hell of a challenge. Probably the most difficult shooter I've ever played, and that's saying a lot. I just can't recommend this game enough and hope you'll do whatever it takes to track it down and experience it for yourselves.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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