Shadow of Ganymede

The most amusing part of “Shadow of Ganymede” was EB’s “Seen it cheaper? We’ll match it!” decal overlapping the $19.91 price tag, which was on top of the $19.95 price tag, which was on top of the $24.95 price tag, all of which were near the giant “$10 off marked price” diamond shaped decal covering the somewhat exciting cover art, and adjacent to the giant “Trade ‘n’ Save” pyramid shaped decal. I’m not sure which aspect was more amusing – that the game warranted three different price points during its shelf life, that they actually believed someone would want to price match a budget game like this (which I’ve never seen for sale outside of EB, by the way), or that they hoped someone would trade in God of War II, Zelda for Wii, or Christ knows what to get credit to save money on “Shadow of Ganymede”.

When the game starts up, it checks for a save file, then shows a very brief FMV of ships approaching a planet, along with the game title. It got my hopes up, but then I made the classic mistake of starting the actual game itself.

Proco and Tiat escaped from Darius in search of a New World. Wait, wrong game.

Anyone out there ever own or play on an Atari Jaguar? Did you see “Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy”? Are you getting a mental picture now? Yes. Lovely. Imagine that, only 800% more difficult, and with worse ship graphics. “Shadow of Ganymede” is a horizontal shooter, scrolling left to right over various generic landscapes – starfield, a rather odd flattened-out Earth with no cloud cover whatsoever, a moonscape and more. Waves of generic enemies fly along in various patterns and kill you with alarming frequency, as happens in the various other examples of the genre. You start the game with lasers best described as Completely And Utterly Ineffective, and should you survive long enough to get weapons pickups, you can upgrade them to Pissy, Useless or I Haven’t Named This Far Because You’ll Never Live Long Enough To Actually Pick It Up. There are also shields which absorb one hit, or you can pick up extra lives.

You may note the ever so slight patina of bitterness in that previous paragraph – when even the tiniest and most common enemies take multiple shots, and the more powerful ones take literally ¾ of a screen worth of constant shooting to explode, you’re in trouble. Memorising all the patterns of the enemy ships might carry you a while, but where’s the fun in that? Continues are infinite, and don’t even reset your score, but they’re from the beginning of each level. It’s almost a relief that there aren’t any boss fights, as I can’t even imagine how difficult they would be to beat.

I can unreservedly rave about the music – each level has its own tune, and they’re fantastic, far better than you’d ever expect to hear in a budget game like this. If you’re a sucker for punishment, or wish to relive the days of 8 or 16 bit generic shooters, or you just want to get so frustrated that you’ll burn down an orphanage while raping a school bus full of nuns, go right on ahead and track this game down.

This review is already longer than the manual that came with it, by the way.

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