aka Rayforce/Galactic Attack

By Taito Sega Saturn 1995


One of the best Saturn vertical shooters,
the underrated Layer Section was actually
released in the West by, of all people,
Acclaim. It's a funny old world eh?

Three names, one great game. For the record, the original name of this game in the Japanese arcades was Rayforce. Due to some copyright problem, when the home version was released in Japan it was renamed "Layer Section". Finally, when Acclaim got a hold of it for the NA release, it was renamed yet again, this time acquiring the incredibly lame moniker "Galactic Attack". (I understand the European
release got stuck with this name, as well. It sure did! Mike).
In fact, thanks to all this renaming business, I almost didn't
get my copy. When I was raiding my local Toys R Us for $10 Saturn games, I saw an Acclaim game with the really stupid title of "Galactic Attack". Now, what idiot would buy anything from Acclaim with such a dumb name? Unfortunately, by the time I realized what it really was and got back to TRU, they had sold out. Fortunately I later found a copy on EBWorld, but had to wait 6 weeks and pay $5 more. Oh well, at least they didn't screw up the cover art, like they did for Darius Gaiden.

STORY: The manual provides a 6-page story section that I shall attempt to sum up in one sentence below. Basically, it's another one of those "Humans create wonderful supercomputer thingy that solves all problems and makes the world a better place until it malfunctions and/or becomes sentient and decides it is superior to humankind and decides to kill 'em all" storylines. See also: Magmax and Zanac. Of course, your typical nameless group of scientists manages to put together some prototype fighter doohickey that's supposed to single-handedly save the world.

PLAYERS: 2P simultaneous.

GAMEPLAY: Your RVA-818 X-LAY ship has two main weapons systems. First, you have your usual vulcan cannon doohickey, which fires straight ahead and increases in power for every three red power-ups or every one yellow power-up you collect. Second, you have the Lock-On Laser, the staple weapon of the RaySeries. In front of your ship, you have a crosshairs not unlike in Xevious. As it passes over enemies on the ground (or otherwise at a lower altitude than your ship), it will "lock-on" to them, and when you push the Laser button, your ship will emit lasers that will track down all the enemies you've locked on to. The amount of points you get for destroying an enemy in this manner increases exponentially, depending on how many enemies you had targeted. Laser power-ups increase the number of lock-ons you can do at once up to a maximum of eight.

Warp into battle from the outer edges of the solar system to the inner bowels of hostile enemy planets. Thousands of turbo charged alien warships attack from every direction. Your only hope.. lock-on lasers, explosive tracking missiles and a soft spot for the human race! (Acclaim's wildly OTT package blurb..;))

DEATH PENALTY: Dying simply reduces your main cannon one level and removes one from your maximum lock-ons. Continuing puts you back to square one, but the game will throw out a number of power-ups (usually three yellows and a laser) to get you back on your feet.

CHALLENGE: This game is not easy by any means, but it is difficult without being cheap for the most part. You have a limited number of continues (although there are probably some codes that will increase them), and seven levels to fly through. The bosses start out fairly easy, then become more and more difficult. But once you get a hang of the patterns, the first five shouldn't be too difficult.

GRAPHICS: Again, this is all straight
2D sprite graphics, so if that's not your cup of tea, you may want to move on. You will want to take advantage of the game's Vertical mode, if possible
without damaging your set (or yourself). The translation to a TV set's dimensions
was handled quite well, IMO, without
any severe letterboxing or stretching. However, a few things got lost in the translation. Level 6 and a portion of level
2 take place in various trench-like environments, and the feeling of being in the trench gets lost entirely in the default horizontal mode. Otherwise, the graphics are well-done, if not spectacular. The game sort of plays like Raiden in reverse; you start out in an asteroidy space level, then make your approach toward Earth (with some rather nice graphics as you enter the atmosphere), then eventually
go underground.

AUDIO: Is this the same Zuntata that did Darius Gaiden's soundtrack? (Possibly not, since apparently Zuntata is about 15 people, half of them programmers. I can't imagine that the whole group works on every single Taito game, but what do I know?) Anyway, it's not really bad, but IMO it's pretty forgettable. For the record, a few of the tracks got used again
RayStorm. Unfortunately, RayStorm also had a pretty forgettable soundtrack, so the only track I can positively ID as being re-used is the first level music. (You can download a midi of this track here - Mike). The sound effects don't quite pack the same punch as Raiden 2's, but do the job quite well.

CONTROL: No complaints here. Fortunately, Acclaim was smart enough to leave the option to readjust your controller to a rotated TV set in the NA version, unlike the bozos who handled the NA localization for
The Raiden Project.

OVERALL: 9/10. An excellent effort from Taito, and much better than its sequel (which I'll get to later.) And if you can endure the lame name, the NA version can be found extremely cheap. So, if you can live with the guilt of knowing how horribly you ripped off some game store by buying this game for $10 or less, do yourself a favour and pick it up.

Score out of Five:

Zach Keene

Zach is the author of many FAQs including G-Darius,
Gradius 3, Einhänder,CSOTN, and the AGVS FAQ


Sreenshots from top left, clockwise - 1. Start of level one, over an enemy space
fortress high above your home planet 2. Your pilot is a foxy manga babe!
3. Boss No.1 - a huge alien ship (original!) 4. This four-legged spider boss
is cool.. 5. The planet surface.. enter the trench and destroy the vulnerable
core.. Hmm.. now what film does that remind me of eh?... ;)

Now this is a GOOD shoot-em-up! And I do not seem to be alone in preferring Rayforce/Layer Section (bah, forget Acclaims 'Galactic Attack' tag, it's woeful in the extreme..) to its polygonized sequel Raystorm , which is best known in the shape of the Working Designs released PSX version). IMO not only does Rayforce 'feel' and play better in comparison to its sequel, it also looks much nicer.. some of the 32-bit sprite-scaling effects are awesome (see that level 4 Spider Boss..) and the parallax scrolling is simply stunning. I don't have any pics of my fave boss in the game, which is the Giant Battleship on level 2, but rest assured it is one of the most enjoyable sections of any vertical shooter I've yet played. Cracking stuff. If you see it residing in a bargain bin in your local software emporium do yourself a huge favour and get it. The shop owner may smirk at at you for buying an old Saturn Acclaim release with a naff name, but inside you will be laughing back at him, knowing that one of the finest shooters in existence has slipped out of his hands and into yours for but a meagre sum of your hard-earned pennies. But that's the beauty of being a smart and clued-up gamer isn't it eh? ;) Mike

Many of the images scattered around this page were pinched from the fly
poster atwork which I found on Taito's Japanese site. You can download the
original flyer artwork here
flyer#1 / flyer#2. While I'm being generous
here is the first level music for the game in midi format. Enjoy!

Rayforce flyer#1 Rayforce fllyer#2

A good alternative review can be found in the Review Archive at

Or take a peek at Zach's review of the sequel to this game -

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