We have, yet again, a brand new game for this generation's elder statesman. Under Defeat is the most recent helicopter shooter, following in the sizeable footsteps of Zero Gunner 2. While Zero Gunner impressed me to no end, the controls in Under Defeat give the former a slight advantage; but the graphics are nothing short of amazing.
Under Defeat looks as crisp and colorful as anyone could ever hope. Everything is rendered in 3-D, and the sense of depth is conveyed exquisitely. From the ground troops, usually in the form of tanks, to the un-ending assault from enemy chopper doppers in the sky, this game really makes you feel like you and you alone have to destroy everything that moves, and even a few things that don't. If Arnold Schwarzenegger ala Commando were a helicopter, he would be the protagonist in Under Defeat. That's a pretty hefty proclamation, I admit, but if the propeller fits, spin the hell out of it!
The only real gripes I have with this game are found in its control, and the restart points. While you had complete control of where and what you were attacking in Zero Gunner, Under Defeat chose a fitting, but not AS fitting control scheme. While not shooting, the chopper is able to move slightly to the left or the right. Once you position yourself where you want to be, or as close to where you want to be as is possible, pressing and holding the fire button keeps you locked in this position. This is nice when you have a lot of enemies entering the screen from the same direction, but moving quickly to meet with new enemies takes a little getting used to.
The other oddity in this game is the decision to insert restart points rather than letting you pick up right where you left off when you die. When you lose all of your lives on a particular credit, the camera pans around the action to show off the nice 3-D models, but abruptly changes course and returns you to an earlier point in the level; usually right before a sub-boss battle! That gets old pretty fast, as this is a difficult game.
On the positive, the game is serious fun to play. In addition to the standard weapon and the bombs, releasing the fire button starts a meter charging, which unleashes a helpful droid-like gun that fires in the direction you were facing when it is deployed. This comes in handy when fending off foe formations from the front of the...screen.
We add yet a second new game to the Dreamcast section only months after the last. We can only hope this trend continues, at least for a year or two. With a petition for Senko No Ronde making its way around, the trend may well continue, and I couldn't be happier.