By Athena Super Famicom/Snes 1993


Athena's stylish and very difficult Snes shooter..
Destroy all Biometallic Monsters!

I remember seeing a review of Biometal in a UK Snes magazine a few years back and salivating over the screenshots.. It sure is a looker, and alongside Axelay and Macross Scrambled Valkyrie, I would have to rate it as one of the best looking Snes shoot-em-ups ever. However looks alone do not make the perfect game, as we shall see..

'Ladies and Gents..your pilots for this evening are..'

Biometal's plot involves the usual Japanese space sci-fi themes. A newly discovered alien civilisation of bio-mechanical nasties needs to be wiped out before they destroy humankind, and you along with your female biologist sidekick have been sent in your lone (but luckily rather nicely equipped) starfighter to take 'em out on their home turf.

And a rather neat looking vehicle it is too, although it seems to be lacking in a few fundamentals (where is the cockpit?!). Still, it's certainly not lacking in the big-gun department, and that's the main thing eh?

Weapon power-ups are gained by destroying pods and picking up the released power-ups, which cycle through the various weapon types as in Raiden. Some weapons cancel each other out though so a little experimentation is called for. You also have a shield at your disposal in the form of four spinning orbs which circle your ship when the A button is pressed, and are retracted by pressing the button again. However while activated they drain charge power and need to be used sparingly. These shield orbs can also be used as a smart bomb if called for, whereby they spin outwards destroying anything within their area, although you are limited to using these only when your charge power is high.

The graphics are very Giger-esque (the guy who designed the creature from 'Alien' - a popular style during the late 80's/early 90's) and none the worse for it, with some nicely drawn alien craft and fairly spectacular end-of-level bosses. Unfortunately you will need to run ZSnes in 16-bit mode to appreciate all the in-game effects, which use a lot of mode-7 raster effects and some impressive parallax scrolling. (Or do as a did and have a hunt around for the original Snes version..)

The price of all this graphic detail however is that there is so much going on at some points in the game, with swathes of bullets, explosions and FX that it is hard to keep track of your ship in the mayhem! Using the shield orbs becomes mandatory at many stages of the game, and you soon realise that the best way to progress is to learn where and when to use your shields rather than relying on any high degree of shooting skills. More of a shield-em-up than a shoot-em-up in my book!

Biometal is certainly exteremely stylish and is very nearly a great shooter, but is let down by a few niggles here and there..although it's still good enough to get:

Score out of Five:

Mike B

Mission On! : The first stage starts with you decending through the clouds towards the surface of the Bio-metal alien's Planet..


Typical bonkers anime-style plot here involving one lone ship taking on the might
of the alien horde on their homeworld..just
the way we like things to be in fact!..



A couple of pics of Biometal 2 on Saturn for you..(which comes complete with the Dezaemon 2 shoot-em-up designer kit) - more of the same really.. if not as stylish as the Snes game


Footnote: For some peculiar reason I was under the impression for a while that Biometal was the English version of a Japanese Athena title called 'Dezaemon'. Apparently, it turns out that Dezaemon is actually a kind of shoot-em-up-construction-kit (a bit like Sensible Software's 'SEUK' on the Amiga and C64) which was actually used by Athena to create Biometal, as a demo for the Dezaemon kit. Activision were obviously impressed enough by Biometal to release it as a full game outside Japan. Biometal 2 is included with the Dezaemon 2 package on the Saturn. Athena went on to release further versions of the shooter-building kit
on PSX also, and a fine library of titles Deza 100 exists in Japan. Anyway, enough with the explanation, it's
still a rather nice little shooter, take a look at the rest of the game!

Click here for more screenshots of Stages One and Two..
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