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Iridion 3-D

You know what I hate about video gaming? Disappointment. You know, like when there’s a certain game that everyone’s raving about, and it turns out to be slop? Or when the game designers tend to pay too much attention to certain aspects of a game and completely ignore everything else? It’s become increasingly familiar with this latest generation of games. When I first saw this game, I knew it had to be part of my collection. After all of the crappy GBA titles out there in the mainstream, you’d think that I’d have learned my lesson by now. But no, Iridion 3-D is hard to find, so I just had to hunt down a copy of it and add it to my rare game collection. Maybe I should have taken a hint when I found it for only three dollars. Maybe I should have delved a little bit more into the background of this game before nabbing it from other collectors. But when everything is said and done, Iridion 3-D is just one more mediocre shooter that has diseased the GBA library.

It’s not like I didn’t give it a chance. I tried so hard to like this game, but it turned me off right from the get go. For those of you that are expecting some sort of deep and engaging storyline, don’t bother looking for one in this game. Iridion 3-D is yet another in a line of games that relies on the over-used alien invasion plot. This game takes place in a world under siege of alien invasion, in a time when humanity’s very future was questioned. One hero must rise up and lay these aliens to waste in an epic struggle for mankind. While this is the essential plot to just about any shooting game these days, Iridion 3-D offers nothing in terms of a basic storyline. As soon as you hit that start button, you’re whisked away into the first stage without so much as an introduction. There is no basic information about your aircraft, where you’re supposed to be flying, or why exactly the future of mankind has been left in your supposedly capable hands.

Luckily, you aren’t given too much time to ponder the game’s storyline. Instead, you’re flying down a long and detailed corridor, ready and willing to take on whatever horrors this alien scum has in store for Earth. There’s just one tiny little problem though: you can barely see your foes coming at you. The screen perspective is set up directly behind your plane. If you stay directly in the center of the screen, the plane will block out your vantage point completely, forcing you to weave diagonally back and forth to get a glimpse of the level ahead of you. Once you get a chance to get your bearings, it’s time to kill anything that crosses your path. You’re in the cockpit of some undisclosed fighter plane with an unlimited amount of ammunition. It’s a real shame that your flying machine can only fire a single bullet at a time, forcing you to keep your thumb pressed firmly on the shooting button. There are no bombs, no lasers, and no heat seeking missiles, just a monotonous spray of energy pellets. There are a few pickups sprinkled throughout the stages, but they offer little more than some different attack animations and the occasional attack power boost. No matter what item you pick up, you’ll still be subject to the basic single-shot attacks. You’re forced to just cruise along with your finger on the trigger, watching as your pathetic firepower nibbles away at your foe’s armor.

Since these tiny pellets of energy dish out little damage against your foes, it’s a good idea to try and attack them from a distance. It’s bad enough that you can barely see your foes to begin with. It’s even worse when you try to shoot them from a distance. Chances are that you’ll miss your foe completely, letting them glide up and gracefully shoot you into oblivion. You’ll have to dodge and weave around enemy bullets and debris. And since collisions take out huge chunks of your health meter, you’ll have to learn quickly before you become road kill. Unfortunately, this little spike in the learning curve is augmented by some truly horrendous controls. As you’re dodging enemy fire, your aircraft will drift from side to side, almost of its own will. It may not seem like a big deal, but it makes quite an impact when you’re trying line up a shot against an enemy or dodging a massive barrage from a boss. It’s as if every aspect of the gameplay was ignored, allowing for some rectifiable problems create a huge mess of a game. When you take into account the crappy camera angle, the lacking arsenal and the unreliable control, you really have to wonder why this game was ever released.

But wait! In this dismal existence of pathetic gameplay, a light of possible salvation shines through. When you thought there was no hope for this game, the presentation tries to make up for its various problems. While this game offers a generic music mix and some muted sound effects, it does have a few good qualities. When everything seems lost, gamers can take solace in the fact that Iridion 3-D features some of the greatest graphics ever seen on the GBA. As you’re meandering aimlessly though the levels, you can get an eyeful of the beautiful settings around you. Despite having absolutely no actual influence on your gameplay, the levels are dynamic in motion and create a sense of depth. The first level has you flying through some sort of loading tunnel, complete with grimy concrete walls and fluorescent lighting. You’ll also do battle over the waters of a realistic Pacific Ocean, puffy clouds, rocky moon terrain, and an asteroid belt. All of these levels are filled to the brim with excellent three-dimensional animation and detail. It almost looks like the plane is actually flying through the levels instead of staying stationary. Even though your enemies look a little pixilated up close, they till have enough detail and coloring to pass for an acceptable presentation.

Looking back on this game, I had to wonder where it went wrong. It lacks just about everything that a quality game needs in this day and age. While the absence of a story may not impact your experience, the shoddy controls and bland attack system will leave you craving for something more. Of course, the decent graphics and audio make this game something to see. Too bad that it can’t save it from being a crappy shooter. In the end, it’s yet another sad case of style over substance, where so much effort was placed on presentation while everything else was tossed by the wayside. If you’re a shooting game fan, avoid this game like a plague. Even for all of you collectors out there, be prepared to waste some cash when adding this to your rare game hoard. But if you’re just looking for some quality games to add to your GBA collection, look elsewhere. Iridion 3-D offers little of it.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

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