It's all about the point of view
by Tibe (2011)
When we speak of Viewpoint, the oldest players among all of us can't help but remember about Zaxxon, the first isometric shoot 'em up ever made, created by Sega in 1982. Sammy tries its own game in such a rare and very special genre, ten years later in 1992 on the sacrosanct Neo Geo system. The screen scrolls diagonally from top right to bottom left. The controls requires a little period of adaptation for most players, as our brains have to materialize the trajectories of the enemy projectiles and the position of our ship in space. After this short delay, the game responds perfectly. The ship doesn't move super fast, but still enough to always leave the player an opportunity to escape, but I have to warn you anyway, the difficulty is incredibly high. The smallest bullet destroys the ship, and have us sent back to the last checkpoint, like in R-Type, for example.
But the comparison stops right there: Viewpoint is a much harder game, and it ain't nothing saying that, as Irem's baby was not exactly what we would name a 'piece of cake'. On the weapons' side, Viewpoint tends to be rather basic: a simple shot that can be loaded in more powerful bursts, up to recover a double module which allows for a triple frontal shooting, an energy shield that can absorb two times enemy fire... and there's also three types of super-bombs, but only three can be stored simultaneously. Suffice to say that what you'll need most to kick your enemies' asses, is quite a pair of balls and cat's reflexes! Let's now talk about another remarkable particularity of the game: Viewpoint's musics are a point on which I have to stop, as they're fucking great! Few games can boast such a groove, and each stages is the opportunity to discover a new catchy melody. Fiting perfectly each level they accompany, these pieces mixing techno-jazz-funk are beautifully composed.
Besides, the basic sound effects and samples are simply what players expect in a good Shoot them Up. Many observers would agree that the sound part is the highlight of Viewpoint's realization, mixing vintage-classic sound effects with increbile high-quality funky musics. But in fact, all the other elements in the game are remarkable. The pseudo-3D graphics are amazing of freshness, it's just bluffing. The outlook is millimetered, with everything finely drawn, and enemies surprising of beauty and life. he The many sprites of the game are animated with great fluidity, and slowdowns, almost non-existent when playing alone, are very rare when playing two. It's a great job, especially in an "only" 74 megabytes cartridge. Suffice to say that Sammy's realization is remarkable for a company's first game on the machine. About the Bosses, they are big, move incredibly fast and smoothly, and believe me they won't let you punish them easily!
With two players (universe bios for the AES, or MVS version needed), the difficulty is a little less intense, because ships instantly re-born when they're destroyed, and there's no checkpoint system like in the single player mode. Finishing Viewpoint alone is a challenge reserved for great Shoot them Up players. If you feel like doing it, then test your skills on this monster challenge. The six levels are beautiful, fairly long and varied: we are sometimes in a watery world, sometimes a technological one, but also a volcanic one, or a forest with bionic insects ... and other special stuff! Viewpoint is one of the best shooting games ever made for the Neo Geo, but mainly the most original. Its unique style, with graphics, musics, incredible Bosses, inhuman difficulty... everything it features makes it a classic, should I say, a must-have. A great show is offered, but it will require from you nerves of steel and cat reflexes, in order to stand a mere chance to survive in this fantasy world.
|Isometric 3D is gorgeous with the Neo Geo palette, featuring enormous bosses, varied and pretty original enemies.|
|The slowdowns are very rare, enemies move smooth and the action is fast enough to require high skills.|
|Themes are incredibly groovy, with acid-jazz and offbeat funk mixed styles. The sound effects are perfectly chosen, for a sublime overall soundtrack.|
|The game packs six long and hard stages to clear, a cool (because easier) two-players cooperative play, and a titanic difficulty level on single-player game.|
|Simple but smart. Bonuses are few, there's one only shot that can be charged, three different bombs... Controls need some practice because of the view, but everything is perfect then.|
|A masterpiece os Shoot them Up on the Neo Geo, original, beautiful, and hard as hell!|
VALUE FOR MONEY (2011)
A game which price has risen steadily during the past five years. Exceeding now two hundred euros in its japanese version, Viewpoint is a rare AES masterpiece, that any lover of quality shoot them up will absolutely want to possess.