by Jon Chang

TYPE-B fighter plane 'Militant'
Armament 'Centralized' Shot Speed fast

Beta Type 'Gun Flier'
Armament cannonball
& Wide Range Barrage Shot

Feature by Jon Chang
Studio Grey


I just returned (4.27.01) from Japan where I enjoyed Cave's latest shmup
Storm of Progear (incidentally this months 'Arcadia' magazine has a great spread on it including stunning production art).

As for the game it's a side scroller (except for level 3, I think, which
is a top scroller though everything remains at a side scrolling

Controls. The game uses a two button system...button A when tapped bursts projectiles across the screen and when held down concentrates your fire(and utilizes the lock on feature for your sub gunner). The B button is super bomb which kills enemies and projectiles(turning them into "rings").

The point system in this game is created around reducing your enemies and their munitions (when you destroy them) into rings and jewels which you then aquire for points. These are tractored into your fighter by holding down the fire button, or if held down already releasing and then holding down again. Scores and bonuses are dependent on how you kill an enemy (with wide fire or focused attacks).

You can choose two fighter types;
'Gambler' and 'Military'. I prefer the PBY looking Gambler though I'm not sure if there are any differences in terms of gameplay between the two.

You then supplement this with 1 of 3 gunners (each with different rate
of fire, lock on, position, etc...). These gunners enhance your firepower and cannot be destroyed unless your craft is destroyed. The
different types of gunners definitely add a level of customization and style.

The levels are standard Cave fair (zillions of bullets) with incredibly beautiful art direction, it is a very unique looking game if nothing else. Though it should be noted the pacing of these bullets isn't that fast and that even though the screen is saturated with bullets I had little trouble dodging them up until level 4 when Progear unleashes itself in full from.

Level structure is linear standard waves of killing capped by a boss. Bosses can be directly attacked (weak points) or taken apart piece by piece, obviously for more points, though I generally tend to kill the weak points as fast as possible and get back into the melee.

Bosses are beautifully designed and each has it's own character (human) associated with the assorted vehicle.

The designs of this game remind of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" with Kirk Douglas encountering a steam punk World War 2 time period Euro-America. If you've ever seen Disney's "Tailspin" cartoon it's inthat vein but much more stylized. Suffice to say the design is quite beautiful and certainly different than anything I have ever encountered in a game before.

The entire game is rendered in sprites. Enemies, bullets and backgrounds clog the screen in their pixelly beauty ^_^

However this game, despite all the things going for it, seems to lack a certain edge that make games like
DoDonpachi or compelling for me. It might just be that the speed of the game is a lot slower. You crank through levels in DoDon and Mars wheras you almost crawl through them in Storm.

Indeed I found myself much more interested in
Metal Slug 3, which I had never played before, than Storm of Progear. I think what it comes down to is for 2D games like Progear I expect furious speed, quality design and nice animations. Progear delivers on the design part but the animations, bosses included, really aren't that spectacular.

The backgrounds feel devoid of life which wouldn't be so bad if the enemies in the foreground had nicer animations but... Just like in DoDon, enemies simply swarm against you but in DoDon you're moving/fighting so quickly the backgrounds are just a blur.

If they had fleshed out the world of Progear a bit more it would have helped this title a lot.

I also haven't figured out the entire scroing system which ranks your performance at the end of each level either.

All in all it's solid but I ended up playing
Metal Slug 3 quite a bit more...that'ss not to say I won't by a DC port if they make one ^_^

Up next is Night Raid and Zero Gunner 2 (both due in the arcades in May 2001 if I'm not mistaken). Wheeeeeeee!!

TYPE- A Fighter plane 'Gambler'
Armament 'Wide' Shot
Speed normal

Alpha Type 'Gun Flier'
Armament explosion missile &
Front direction Centralized Shot

Gamma Type 'Gun Flier'
Armament Homing Missile
& Targeting Shot

Progia/Storm of Progear is copyright of Cave/Capcom Japan Co. 2000

The Official Progear homepage (Japanese) is here.