By: Jeff Cater
Assault Suit Leynos is the revival of a classic Genesis game by the name of Target Earth. In it, you play a ragtag pilot in a highly customizeable assault suit defending the remnants of Earth’s forces from the insanely aggressive Cyborg race, the Chron. Brought to us by Dracue and Rising Star Games, Assault Suit Leynos offers an intense, fast-paced side-scroller that depicts the peak of the golden gaming era.
Ultimately, the first battle you’ll face is working out how to effectively play the game. At first enemies charge at you from one side of the screen and it plays like any other shoot ’em up, but once you progress a little bit the aggressors can and will come from all sides.
Aiming your weapon and controlling your movement is all done with the left stick, which can be a bit frustrating at first when you’re trying to move one direction while shooting another. As long as you hold down the fire button when aiming the direction you want you can move freely in any direction.
To get around enemies and try to file them into a line, you might want to consider boosting past them and drawing their aggro. It’s also very likely that some will end up getting right in your face, so mash triangle quickly to give them a good jab that either ends them completely or knocks them away.
Switching between your weapons is done by pulling either trigger, which I sometimes accidentally pulled while trying to fire my weapon, because… ya know, triggers n’ stuff.
Assault Suit Leynos looks pretty damn sweet. Each faction is clearly distinguished in design so it’s very easy to tell friend from foe in later levels in order to focus better. The Earthen forces all have Assault Suits and ships that tend to look a bit cobbled together and rough in design, while your enemy has sleeker ships that just reek of alien style.
Weapon special effects also differ per side so you’ll immediately be able to tell which bullets to dodge and which to ignore. The action never slows down, either. I’ve said this about remakes/revivals before, Assault Suit Leynos looks how a fan of Target Earth would remember it looking, when your imagination and memory filled in the gaps.
The original soundtrack seems to have been given significant attention, too, and it offers some good old butt-rock complete with picky bass lines and Joe Satriani-like guitar wails. Voice acting is also great if not a bit distracting sometimes. Really though it could be terrible; it’s all in Japanese, so I’m not sure how well it fares there, but it sounds great to me.
Holy damn, this is a daunting game to play. After the first few levels of clearing out land-based Chron artillery and suits, the battle quickly moves to the stars and throws you into engagements featuring massive bullet-spewing capital ships on either side. Objectives range from escorting civilians to safety to protecting your home ship while preparing for atmospheric reentry, none of which is easy.
In fact, this game is definitely for the hardcore bullet-hell fans and is seriously tough. Not only is it hard to get the hang of toggling your direction of fire while moving every which way, but there’s also the fact that most of the objectives come in the form of Japanese voiceovers that indicate changes in objective or alternate options.
As such, it’s not unusual to feel like you’re doing a great job dispatching the enemy only to find out that you needed to make it back to the capital ship before you burn up in the atmosphere. There are English subtitles during sequence like this, but it’s nigh impossible to take your eyes off the action without sacrificing a portion of your health pool as you helplessly read up to a paragraph.
Pre-mission loadouts could’ve used a bit more work for the re-release as well, because the screen is too clumsy and linear in its execution, meaning that you have to unequip every piece of armor or weapon you have in order to change things up – you can’t just highlight an item and unequip it, it all has to go. That’s a small thing, but it is indeed a thing.
Assault Suit Leynos is a fantastic title that could’ve broadened its horizons and deflated the parts that made it artificially difficult by just adding some English voiceover. If you can get over that and don’t mind retrying a mission a few times while you memorize key moments, then it’s definitely a game that you want in your collection.