You gotta hand it to the Dreamcast; it's like the fiery little guy on Kids in the Hall who wouldn't stay down. While nearly every new game released since it was officially declared dead are of the shooter variety (and arcade ports), I don't think anyone could object to shooters that look and play this good. Border Down is of the "New Traditionalist" variety, in that it maintains enough of the traditional aspects of the genre to lure in the snobbiest of shooter purists, but includes elements of new fangled shooters to also keep the genre alive. No matter how unforgiving the difficulty may be.
There are basically two types of traditional 2D shooters; those that scroll horizontal and vertical variety. Border Down is a horizontal scroller, which is nice considering most of the new shooters released for the little wonder have been of the latter persuasion.
The new school aspect of most of the recent shooters has been, primarily, a hook (or, merely a gimmick, if the game turns out to be a dud). The hook in Border Down (and yes it is most definitely an enjoyable game, hence the "hook") lies in the alternate paths one can take throughout the course of the game. Each level has three different "borders", flavored green, yellow, and red. The option of choosing which border to pursue is available at the start of each level, and when you die, as you most certainly will, the game automatically cycles to a different border. Essentially, if you start at the top or green border, you are demoted to yellow, then red when you die a second time. After losing three consecutive times, which again, you probably will, it's game over. That is the single most frustrating part of this game; one credit with which to complete it. With only one attempt at each border, it makes finding the border you are most comfortable with possible only after much repeated play. The varying borders are not necessarily more challenging than another; they are simply different versions of the subsequent level you are in.
The overall level design is very nicely done. The graphics are exactly what you would (and should) expect from a twenty-first century shooter, and the standard devices are in play; destroying certain enemy ships will supply you with weapon power-ups, which are very necessary. Button A fires your standard weapon, and button B fires your special; very simplistic and succinct. The musical score isn't going to give Tommy Tallarico a run for his pompous money, unfortunately, but it's very fitting.
For fans of this genre, which is indeed beginning to wane, this is well worth adding to your collection. Supporting these kinds of games will let the world know we are still playing our Dreamcast's and loving every quirky minute of it.