3 Difficulty levels
Ship speed by icons
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Developed by Taito
Published by Sage's Creation in 1990
How would you feel about playing a shooter were you have to fight an army of insects? Even though there are some cases where the game is partly insect themed (Kolibri, Bio-Hazard Battle, Bee 52), the only title that really uses this to the extreme is this one. Insector X appeared first in the arcade scene (see the PS2 version), and was later ported for the NES and the Mega Drive. From what I could gather, this last port differs from the others for cointaining a serious overall tone, as opposed to the goofy sprites found in the arcade and NES versions. I'm not in the position to compare them any further, since I never played or even saw those ones live.
Gameplay here can be described as a series of small enemy waves intertwined with slightly bigger enemies with bigger shots and followed by a huge boss at the end of the stage, over the course of five increasingly difficult levels. You can power up your initial shot and get two kinds of special weapons: red gives you a wave/spread shot and blue gives you a bomb that shoots anti-air capsules. There's also a lightning attack to wipe enemies, speed-up, power-up preserve and 1UP icons. It's just the standard fare you already know from the shooters made in the late 80s or starting 90s.
The checkpoint system is what makes this game a tad difficult for beginners. If you die mid-stage in later levels, be prepared for some serious beating from an overwhelming number of enemies and bullets while you try to figure out how to evade using your default pea shooting capability. I remember I suffered a lot to beat this game when I was a kid, and since very recently I thought it was a very, very hard game to 1CC. Well, I changed my mind after I completed it with no concentration or proper setting at all. My brother was playing Street Fighter IV on an adjacent TV and I was playing this game with no volume. Even so, that doesn't mean Insector X is the easiest of the accomplishments.
Insector X for the Mega Drive is a game that looks great on screenshots. And it looks damn cool too. Getting into the real thing, however, is a bit of a letdown. There are no parallax layers at all, and the large hitbox of your character is prone to make you swear from time to time (at least you don't die if you touch walls). While the music is fitting with the theme, my opinion is that it doesn't get you in the mood for a decent shooting. Added to the checkpoints, this all sums up to diminish the replay value, making this game more suitable to MD hardcore shmuppers or collectors.
Most of the difficulty here is in-stage, so we might as well enjoy what this game has best: the boss battles. All of them, the wasp, the grasshopper, the moth, the spider and the queen bee are huge and menacing, though not so hard to defeat.
This is the score I got this time, playing on NORMAL: