Where does one even begin when it comes to Keio Flying Squadron? On one hand it features one of the most involving stories of any 16-bit shooter; but on the other hand, that story is so contrived and straight up weird you will wonder how the hell it ever got released here.
The story starts seriously, at first it seems the story is about the end of Japan's feudal period ... and then you get a curveball. The narrator states "Unrelated to these history proceedings" and everything goes crazy. Deep in the woods of Japan the descendants of the gods live in the bottom of a well, hiding a key that no one really remembers the purpose of. An evil genius raccoon steal the key and runs off with it.
His goal? Turn the world into raccoons! Our hero was out eating hamburgers at the time, when she arrives home she doesn't care, but after her grandmother beats the crap out of her and tells her no diner until the key is returned she is ready for action. She magically changes into a Playboy bunny, hops on a tiny dragon and heads off for the key.
The enemies are bright, inventive, varied, and slightly insane. They include puppies on flying carpets, rats and cats in bombshells, mostly the enemies are raccoons; in row boats, mechs, sailboats, riding flying dolphins and running around on the ground throwing bombs. Also, everything on screen is very large which poses a problem as you really don't have any room to dodge or position yourself which really is a pain in the ass.
The sound in Keio Flying Squadron is very good, the Sega CD's sound capabilities where taken for all they are worth. Each enemy has its own unique set of sounds (the cows are a nice touch). The background music is pretty decent as well. There is also a good bit of cheesy voice acting, which surprised me. It's cheesy, but in a good way.
The game play is standard horizontal shooter, not a single innovation has been implemented. Keio Flying Squadron isn't especially fast moving and the weapons feel a tad underpowered.
At first I was quite bored by Keio Flying Squadron; then, out of nowhere, I was addicted to it. This really is too unique to not like. If you want a quirky shooter with an interesting (albeit wacky) story then this game is worth checking out. It must be said though, that when compared the juggernauts of shooters -- R-type, Thunder Force, Gradius -- its gameplay is weak. But then, those games don't contain Keio's charm.