Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

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Stanshall
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Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Stanshall » September 16th, 2018, 10:30 am

LEVEL UPPPPP

The Switch version is only available on the Japanese eShop at this point but I took a punt following plenty of praise I'd read in various quarters. And what a blistering game this is.

I've never played any of the previous Psyvariar games, and I believe this is pretty much just a spit and polish job of the PS2 release, so I'm very happy to find that what looked pretty dry and generic in screenshots is a really exciting and satisfying shmup with what appears to be a very high skill ceiling and complex strategic approach.

It's a graze shooter in the vein of my little fave Danmaku Unlimited 3 but with a different power up mechanic. Where DU3 uses grazing to charge a limited time ultra to boost damage and score, Psyvariar uses grazing to cumulatively boost your level and, by extension, your firepower. It also changes your ship cosmetically so there's a real satisfaction and sense of progress through each run as your lasers build and build and your ship changes shape and appearance.

Each time you level up, you get a satisfying little vocal snippet and a handful of i-frames so you can try to graze more dangerous clusters of bullets and get another level and another little period of invincibility to keep the 'buzz' going. It's also satisfying that you don't lose your buzz chain when there are no enemies on screen, so this is another thing to reward your extended survival. I think that as higher buzz also grants you faster levelling up bonus so you can see how everything chains together quite beautifully when you're playing well.

On the Switch, the HD rumble is also a winner. Every time you graze a bullet, the Switch gives a little vibration of feedback and as primitive as it is, there's an excitement and satisfaction to buzzing through an improbable raincloud of bullets and feeling the controller fizzing with delight in your palms.

While it's pretty generic to look at and has no particular visual identity (!), there's a polished sterility to it which appeals. In fact, that feeling is also reflected in the gameplay. When you play precisely, and you get your positioning correct and you weave through the patterns, it feels so damn clean. That's really the word for it. It's finding order in the chaos, something which games tend to do so well, but it also feels like you're taking advantage of it rather than just surviving. It's a slightly strange feeling but I'll put it down to the buzz mechanic and the levelling up. It's top tier shooting.

A hearty recommendation.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by KSubzero1000 » September 16th, 2018, 10:58 am

Sounds amazing. I'll look into it once it hits the EU PS4 shop, preferably at a reasonable price considering it's a port from 2 console generations ago.
Stanshall wrote:
September 16th, 2018, 10:30 am
While it's pretty generic to look at and has no particular visual identity (!)
Hey, what's that exclamation mark for? :lol:

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Stanshall » September 16th, 2018, 11:39 am

Hehe, just an acknowledgement that it seems quite a brutal description. I don't really know how to best describe its use but I feel like I know when I need to use it - even if I'm completely wrong about its proper use (!).

Anyhow...

Certified banger. I've just played an hour straight and getting better at the score attack mode, slowly clambering up the rankings. It's a slightly funny one in that I don't know what exactly normal mode is because there's no ranking there and you have infinite continues. Only score attack has leaderboards, and for each ship and version of the game. I didn't even realise that each ship was noticeably different until the past hour. I also don't yet understand the routes to the final boss, but you have the usual selection of easy, normal and hard routes after each stage (more or less) and you seem to end up in roughly the same place.

Bosses are really really hard, in general, while the actual stages are not so bad and make you feel totally in control, even when it's pretty rough. It's really well balanced during the stages, to my taste and skill level. Bosses will require some learning, though. You will be able to dodge many patterns if you have the skill and spacing knowledge but there will be some fast spray attacks that feel like a shotgun and you have to know what you're up against to have a chance. I'm slowly getting there, though, and on the rare occasions that I make it through unscathed, it feels fantastic.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Michiel K » September 16th, 2018, 12:12 pm

Nice write-up. I’ve got the PS2 release and what I find most extraordinary is how a simple thing like the buzz mechanic profoundly changes the way you look at bullet curtains; rather than something that is only there to be feared, you see them as power up and scoring opportunities and it really motivates you to look for the openings and live on the edge, as opposed to steering clear of them.

I’d be all over a re-release of Psyvariar 2, as the Dreamcast version of it is rather costly.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Stanshall » September 16th, 2018, 12:40 pm

Yeah, you nailed it with the idea that this makes you see bullets in a very different way to most shmups, and even compared to other grazing shmups I've played. It brings a totally different element into play and I think that's what I find so exciting with it. There's also no 'perfect' approach, as with something like Ikaruga, but there's also no stress or disappointment which comes from trying to sustain a chain. You will still avoid shooting enemies as with DDP, say, but it's all in the service of increasing your buzz and powering up, not just holding onto the chain.

It doesn't look special at all, but it feels it.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Michiel K » September 16th, 2018, 7:52 pm

^^^^ For sure, and I think Psyvariar 2 also looks the part. The boss bullet patterns in that game are mesmerising.


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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by ratsoalbion » September 16th, 2018, 8:19 pm

I had the Psyvariar Deluxe double pack for PS2 way back when (mid 00s) and started to get into it but cast it aside at some stage waiting for a contemporary release...

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Stanshall » September 16th, 2018, 8:46 pm

It's definitely coming before the end of the year to Switch and PS4.

And, Michiel, you're right, the boss patterns can be dazzling. I suppose I'm a little harsh towards the visuals because they service the gameplay perfectly well. Things get so busy that beautiful and complex backgrounds like Shikhondo or more detailed ships wouldn't be very welcome in practice.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » September 18th, 2018, 6:10 am

Not much I don't agree with here! I bought Delta via the Japanese PSN and even with the minimal updating (I mean, the core game is all you really need) it still holds up incredibly well.

I have the Taito GNet motherboard, plus both the Medium Unit and Revision cards, and Delta (plus the PS2 version, to be honest) do it justice. Again, the big difference between arcade and home versions is that the arcade version doesn't have a roll button: it has to be done manually with the joystick, which changes the way you play it. It makes for a more physical experience.

I did also pick up the Naomi version of Psyvariar 2 - yet to play it due to the fact that I'm still in the process of building the cabinet! It was a bit cheaper than the Dreamcast version, with the caveat that you still need a cabinet to play it.

Does anyone else here have experience with Psyvariar 2?

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Michiel K » September 18th, 2018, 9:42 pm

Not yet, unfortunately!

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » September 18th, 2018, 11:31 pm

I know there was also an Xbox and PS2 release of Psyvariar 2, as well as the Dreamcast, but I wasn't sure if those releases were Japanese only, or if there was a PAL version?

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by KSubzero1000 » September 21st, 2018, 7:01 am

http://www.siliconera.com/2018/09/20/ps ... d-arcades/

Several updates incoming, including new stages! :)

Really looking forward to this one, oddly enough.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Michiel K » September 21st, 2018, 8:45 am

^^^^ That's so cool. I'm happy to see it's doing well, too!
Joshihatsumitsu wrote:
September 18th, 2018, 11:31 pm
I know there was also an Xbox and PS2 release of Psyvariar 2, as well as the Dreamcast, but I wasn't sure if those releases were Japanese only, or if there was a PAL version?
All Japan-only, I'm afraid.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » September 21st, 2018, 8:50 am

Damn... but new levels for Delta... that's pretty cool!

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by ThirdDrawing » October 5th, 2018, 5:44 am

Very interested but I'm going to wait for the Western physical release. (Amazon says Nov. 30th...but Play Asia says Oct. 23rd?!)

I'm wondering if the updates will be included with it.

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Re: Psyvariar Delta (Grazing danmaku)

Post by Stanshall » November 11th, 2018, 11:56 am

The 1.3 arrived with some brand new 'Delta' stages which means there are now three versions of this game on the collection, with three ships (one as DLC) and multiple modes in which to attempt to better your score.

I'm particularly enjoying Replay Mode, whereby you choose individual stages to try to better your score and it saves the replay of your best effort so you can learn from mistakes and figure out where to squeeze a little more BUZZ out of the run. Rankings are determined by overall cumulative score across all stages, which is cool. I wish it also had rank for individual stages, though.

In true ichimen bancho fashion, I've absolutely rinsed that first stage to hit 1105 max combo and I haven't been able to improve on it for weeks. I'd love to know where that would put me in the grand scheme of things!

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