By Irem Sega Saturn 1998

X-Multiply and Image Fight on one CD? That's, like, two of the best
shoot 'em ups of all time presented in one convenient package.
It's a laser-based dream in software format! Make no mistake..

What a lovely looking pack! Two of Irem's finest are what we have here. This review is again taken from now-gone (sniff!) Sega Saturn Magazine UK - which seemed to be staffed by real shooter-fans, unlike some official publications for another, greyer, console I can think of :). I love these two games myself, which can be enjoyed in the M72 Irem emulator on PC if you like the look of them. Unfortunately my own 'puter has probs with joystick recognition in M72, so I have to play 'em with the keys (hard! - which is why there are but limited screenshots), though I've been trying to track this scarce Saturn import down for quite a while now.. Mike

X-Multiply: Here's the impressive and creepy giant alien boss from stage 2, a kind
of R-Type Mothership with scales.. Click on the pic for an even larger scale view.

X-Multiply carries on in the tradition of many
classic Irem titles like R-Type and Dragon Breed,
with its bio-organic graphical style.

One of the reasons why these older shooters always seem so much harder than their modern counterparts is their use of the old restart point, which has been phased-out in newer blasters. Even the mighty Radiant Silvergun - the best shooter in years - may be completed by virtue of infinite continues and simple perseverence, whereas the notion of forcing the player to replay the section they've just died on (often restarting way behind as a 'punishment' for the error) makes it downright essential to master every inch, every attack wave and every boss in these old blasters (which is of course the way it should be.. ;)). Both X-Multiply and Image Fight use this restart point philosophy to make players redo areas they've messed up (usually without those hard-earned weapons too!), and it's the reason why modern shooters will never compare to these classic blasters (though thankfully Irem's new baby, R-Type Delta retains the use of restart points.) It's also probably the reason why they're so ingrained in our memories as well..

History will probably record R-Type as being Irem's finest hour, but connoisseurs may argue that the innovation-packed X-Multiply, or mega-tough Image Fight are both equally worthy of a place in the blaster hall of fame.

There have been some truly magical moments in the large and dusty archives of gaming history, and a company with more than its fair share of classics is Japanese 2D specialist, Irem. You'll know Irem as the company behind the rightly beloved R-Type, as well as the stunning
X-Multiply and the not-bad Image Fight. Now, Irem has bundled its two second-best titles onto a single Saturn disc. We're in Heaven!

The gameplay in X-Multiply (1989) is more advanced (Hmm, not totally convinced about this myself.. Mike)
than R-Type, mainly due to the fact that your ship
comes equipped with two massive and free-moving tentacles bolted onto the top and bottom. This opens up more possibilities for attack and defence, as they act as a shield from enemy shots and smaller enemies themselves. A quick press of the D-pad flings these protective barriers wherever you like. These tentacles also become significant offensive weapons, as dragging them across huge motherships causes massive damage (leaving players
free to attack whatever's coming from above), and the collection of power ups, like forward lasers and heavy-artillery bombs, further adds to the experience.

R-Type Delta players may be familiar with these ship mounted 'tentacles' which can be manoeuvered in all directions around your ship and are dead useful for wacking aliens and shielding you from bullets.

Image Fight (1988) is an altogether different kettle of tech-no-organic fish. Punishing use of the restart points make this 2D shoot 'em up even tougher than its X-prefixed soul mate, and the simple fact that it's over a year older than X-Multiply leads to an all-round less-impressive display of visuals. Still, if R-Type and X-Multiply were all about style and design, Image Fight was more of an all-out test of survival and weapon accumulation, with unique (at the time) features, such as being able to set the ship's speed manually, along with free-floating drone-weapons which fire in the opposite direction to the ship's movement (the bit I especially liked!), Image Fight does boast an excellent array of power-ups but the super-tough nature of the game makes it a massive struggle to see the more advanced weapons.

Image Fight: One of the most difficult vertical shooters ever
created, with scores of enemies, lethal collidable scenery and
punishing restart points.. but still a classic in my book..


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