In celebration of its 20 year anniversary, Battle Garegga has been repackaged and re-released in HD for a new generation of gamers. Now called Battle Garegga Rev.2016, longtime fans and newcomers can experience some exceptional vertical shoot-em-up action, courtesy of publisher M2 Co., Ltd. I’ve always had a soft spot for shmups on Xbox, even going as far as to import as many non-region locked ones as I could last generation. Thanks to digital distribution we can now play games from Asia easier and cheaper than ever. The question remains, is Battle Garegga Rev.2016 worthy of an anniversary edition and your money?
Battle Garegga Rev.2016 has you taking control of a variety of airplanes, each with a different special attack, and fighting in the skies across 7 varied stages. Anyone who has played a shmup will know what to expect with the gameplay. Basically, you are shooting everything in your path from planes to tanks to buildings. Many items drop that either add to your score, weaponry or add a smaller plane to join your formation. You begin with a paltry gunfire, but stay alive long enough and you will be dealing death with wide and powerful projectiles. There’s a boss fight at the end of every level and later on, the game throws a handful of mini bosses at you as well. The stages themselves vary in length from about 3-4 minutes to 10 or more. I’d estimate the average player will take about 40 minutes to run through the campaign, depending on the difficulty.
Three gameplay modes round out the Battle Garegga Rev.2016 package: Super easy, Arcade and Premium. Playing on super easy first allowed me to get a feel for the game and the levels. I was happy to see that achievements still unlocked in this mode, and I earned a lot in my first play through alone. There are continues and while continuing you can choose a different plane, which I thought was a nice inclusion. Even though the continues are liberal in super easy mode, you can still get a game over. When you do, the game increases your credits by 1. Playing in arcade and premium was much the same, just a lot harder and fewer credits. I like the balance here with a more casual mode and then something challenging for hardcore players. There is even a custom game mode where you can adjust a wealth of settings like stock and level order.
Presentation wise, you are getting a 20-year-old game and everything that comes with it. When things get crazy there will be some slight slowdown, but it doesn’t detract from the experience. There are 4 different soundtracks and the music on each level is fitting and enjoyable. I enjoyed the distinct look of each level, from flying over the ocean to indoor industrial areas. Unlike modern shmups that show animated storyboards, Battle Garegga Rev.2016 uses in-engine models at the beginning and end of the campaign. While I never played the original game back in the day, I can see why it would be worthy of a rerelease in 2016.
As far as vertical shmups go, Battle Garegga Rev.2016 is exceptional. The mechanics are easy to learn yet tough to master, and thanks to super easy difficulty you may not even need to master them! The most obvious hurdle I can foresee is the price, $34.99 USD. I have paid a lot more money to import shmups that I enjoyed far less than Battle Garegga Rev.2016. You get what you pay for when it comes to quality in this genre. Sure, it might not be as exciting and sexy as importing an obscure game from Japan, but an incredibly fun and well-crafted game is waiting for you right now in the Xbox marketplace. Fans of the original release as well as fans of the genre should absolutely add it to their collection.