The Sega Dreamcast was, in my opinion, unfairly relegated to the pages of history, at least in Western markets. It's possible to blame its failure on any number of reasons - piracy, poor advertising, a lack of hummingbird based shooters, Sony's empty advance hype for PlayStation 2 - but Dreamcast definitely failed in the marketplace. However, it does still live on in some small ways. As you may or may not be aware, there has been a steady trickle of official releases for the system in Japan.. games like "Baldr Force EXE" and "Chaos Field". The most recent of these releases is a game called "Radilgy". (I tell a lie.. by the time you read this, "Under Defeat" will be out as well)

"Radilgy" is a vertically scrolling shooter - something that most Dreamcast fans are no doubt familiar with by now - but with a difference. That difference? Cel shading, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. The graphics are very cartoony and fun, something that's not very common in shooters, perhaps with the exceptions of Parodius and Twinkle Star Sprites.

Danmaku, baby - "bullet curtain" - welcome to the crazy train.

The game has some interesting mechanics, as you'd expect from a modern shooter. While you're not firing, you have a forward facing shield that can absorb some of the minor bullets fired at you. Collecting little triangles that scroll down the screen after destroying enemies will build an energy bar that, when full, allows you to fire off a vortex of doom, which keeps you safe from harm for a time and magnetically draws all collectable items to you. Collectables? You can pick up random item icons for points (I've seen sunglasses, cakes, all manner of bizarre items), the aforementioned triangles and the occasional power up icon. The actual powering up doesn't seem to be all that impressive - from single to dual to spread shots - but perhaps I'm missing something by not being able to read the on screen text.

Language barrier, you say? The good news is that all the menus are in English, but the bad news is that if you can't read Japanese, you won't be able to tell what the little anime girl heads are saying to you between levels. Still, who cares? The game's fun without having to understand the plot, and you can always look on the intarweb for a translation guide. It'll no doubt prove a little expensive to import "Radilgy" from Japan, but there are also Gamecube and PS2 versions coming, so perhaps those will be easier to find. Also, keep in mind that a previous Dreamcast shooter, Chaos Field, ended up being ported to Gamecube and released in the US, so who knows?

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This originally was my April 2006 column for Collector Times.

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