Here now are reviews of eight games either directly related to the Terra Cresta series or heavily influenced by it.
|The eyes have it.|
I'll give it to you straight... there were dozens of games like Moon Cresta in the early 1980s, and a large chunk of them were more entertaining than this. GORF builds on the success of two other classic shooters to great effect, and Astro Blaster serves up tension by the truckload with its tight time limit and devilish enemy formations. If you insist on playing Moon Cresta, the version of the game in Nichibutsu Arcade Classics for the Super Famicom is your best bet, as it's got an enhanced version with the same cacophonous sound effects but more polished graphics. Curiously, it still congratulates you with terms like "Far Out!" and "Right On!," which must have seemed crusty even in 1980, when the original game was released. I guess Nichibutsu couldn't be expected to update everything!
|The Phoenix, the Winger's ultimate|
form and a recurring character
in the series.
With more variety and without jarring pauses in the action, Terra Cresta's fleet of ships is a far more exciting play mechanic than the docking in Moon Cresta. Beyond that, the concept couldn't have come at a better time. Video games were slowly making a comeback after the crash of 1983, and toys like Voltron and the Transformers were red hot. Kids of the '80s were hungry for Japan's giant robot culture, and Terra Cresta scratched that itch in a way no other video game could.
Terra Cresta was successful enough to inspire a dozen sequels and spin-offs. It was also given a surprisingly faithful conversion on the Famicom, although the game took its sweet time reaching America. By the time it hit the NES in 1990, players had already moved on to 1943 and Life Force, with a lucky few graduating to the shooter-heavy libraries of the Genesis and Turbografx-16. It may have arrived a little late, but Terra Cresta was at least worth a rental for fans of the genre who hadn't yet stepped up to a 16-bit game system.
UFO ROBO DANGAR
|There are three different UFOs,|
each with their own signature
Beyond the aesthetic changes, UFO Robo Dangar is largely the same game as Terra Cresta. Ships pour out of the edges of the screen in mesmerizing patterns, and you blast them while weaving around their bullets. You can split your mech into three ships and fan out your shots with a tap of the Formation button, but it's a temporary solution, and could end in tears if your lead ship is destroyed.
Aside from the robot motif, there's one other thing that distinguishes UFO Robo Dangar from Terra Cresta. On rare occasions, you'll stumble across a black hole which takes you to a world with a creepy bio-organic look. That art style would later resurface in Armed Formation F, a distant cousin of the Terra Cresta series.
|Is that decayed brown building on the left|
You can change the game's perspective from top-down to side-scrolling and back by flying into specially marked tunnels, but Terra Force feels more like a genuine Terra Cresta title when played from an overview view. It also gives you more room to dodge the waves of non-descript aliens, and makes your bombs a little less useless. That last sentence was dripping with the same lack of enthusiasm that went into this game's design, so I'll just close by saying that Terra Force is a respectable shooter that's kept grounded by its low aspirations.
|It's not Terra Cresta, but a remarkable simulation!|
The Amiga delivered exactly that, dropping jaws with killer titles like Ruff 'n Tumble, Turrican III, and the headliner Shadow of the Beast. This side-scrolling action game doesn't hold up under close examination, but when you're a fifteen year old video game addict playing the demo in a computer store, it makes a big impression. It also made it awfully tough to go back to that crusty old NES...
Anyway, on to the game! Many Amiga titles were European riffs on arcade favorites, and Hybris is no exception, doing its best impression of the Terra Cresta series. You're still piecing together a heavily armed battleship and splitting it apart to spread out your firepower, but this time, you'll be doing it to a catchy Eurosynth beat, and dropping bombs to clear the screen when the action gets too frantic.
Hybris's only major malfunction- aside from plain graphics that sometimes camouflage the bullets you need to avoid- is that it's a three button game that has to settle for a one button joystick. This happened a lot with Amiga software... even Mortal Kombat was playable with one button, if you can call that "playable."
ARMED FORMATION F
Arcade / PC Engine
|The Insect Stage is guaranteed|
to make your skin crawl.
Using the Armers isn't as fun as merging and splitting ships in the Terra Cresta games, and the narrow playfields leave the player with less room to dodge the bizarre creatures in each level. Despite all that, Armed Formation F is still a fairly diverting shooter, as long as you stick with the arcade game. The PC Engine conversion loses a lot of the original's charm thanks to overly tiled backgrounds and smaller, less detailed monsters.
TERRA CRESTA II
|A triumphant comeback for the Terra Cresta|
series. Uh, better make that an adequate one.
Having said that... for fans of the series, it's good enough. A game as inherently Japanese as Terra Cresta is a comfortable fit for the TurboGrafx-16 hardware, and the gameplay has evolved in subtle but welcome ways. Ship pieces are now held in metal capsules, and shooting them causes the ends to pop off, destroying anything they touch for a huge point bonus. You can also design formations for your fleet of ships, an idea first explored in the NES conversion of the first game. Finally, the music stands as some of the best you'll hear on the TurboGrafx, with rich, complex tracks that add tension to the action.
There are issues, of course. The game doesn't put up much of a fight, with enemies quickly falling to your overpowered guns. There's also not much to distinguish one stage from the next beyond themed wallpaper. One level takes place over active volcanoes, and another sends you into the ocean to blast spinning turtles. There are no truly iconic moments, like chasing after pagodas on tank treads in M.U.S.H.A., or one of the many wild boss fights in Paradius. Nichibutsu could have done so much more with this game, but a pretty good Terra Cresta sequel is better than none at all...
TERRA CRESTA 3D
|Your Saturn can do better than this.|
Much, much better.