One of the video game publishers that I’ve really grown fond of over the past few years is ININ Games due to their commitment to bringing some classic games to modern platforms. They’ve gone and done it again recently by releasing Ray’z Arcade Chronology which contains three classic vertical shoot ‘em ups. If you are a fan of the genre read on for my review of the PlayStation 4 version.
Ray’z Arcade Chronology contains three shoot ‘em ups originally released by TAITO in the 1990s. Those games are RayForce that released in 1994, RayStorm that released in 1996, and RayCrisis that released in 1998. This collection includes the original arcade versions of all three games but also the HD versions of RayStorm and RayCrisis which helps them look more visually appealing than RayForce which never got one. All three games are vertical shoot ‘em ups but do have differences to them in terms of systems. There is a story present in the three games but it wasn’t that interesting to me focusing on governments and wars. I don’t usually play shoot ‘em ups for the story but rather the arcade, score chasing gameplay so let’s get into that.
We’ll start off by talking about RayForce since it was the first game to release out of the three. Since this one didn’t get an HD release it looks older than the other games using a 2D pixel art style but that doesn’t take away from how it plays. RayForce was kind of unique thanks to the dual layer system it used where you can fire at enemies on your plane but you also had a lower plane where ground enemies are and you would have to use bombs to attack them. These bombing attacks require you to perform a lock-on beforehand though which is a little weird in execution. Other than that mechanic the game is pretty standard stuff when it comes to shoot ‘em ups.
Moving onto RayStorm we get a more 3D cinematic shoot ‘em up that makes good use of the camera. This one plays a lot like RayForce but introduces a SP attact tied to the Triangle button that clears the whole screen of enemies. You also get the choice of two different ships to use with each one having different types of attacks which helps differentiate things. RayCrisis is the last of the three games and is quite a bit different in that you have something called an Encroachment Meter that punishes you for letting enemies survive. It also is a bit more replayable as stages are randomized.
Playing through all three games was fun and felt good thanks to the great emulation quality that was done by M2. The team has also added a nice bevy of bonus features in this including online leaderboards for all titles which should please score chasers. You also get difficulty options, the ability to create save states whenever you want, watch replays, toggle some screen options, and play with the original music or the newly arranged tracks. Speaking of that music it’s quite good throughout as are the sound effects. What isn’t here sadly is any kind of museum type of content to provide further information on these titles which would’ve been nice especially given the asking price of this collection. What I also didn’t like is there is a title that you can’t access in the digital version of this collection and the only way you can get it is through the physical copy that was limited. In my opinion it isn’t a good thing to lock physical or digital buyers out of something because of how they prefer to buy the game.
Ray’z Arcade Chronology is a great collection of vertical shoot ‘em ups but one that could’ve been even better. The games here have great emulation quality and will provide plenty of hours of shoot ‘em up fun for any fan of the genre. It’s just that it could’ve been even better if all the titles were included in the digital version and if there was more extra content like Museum type stuff. Despite those missing things, this is still a great collection of shoot ‘em ups from the 90s that you may have never got to experience.
*Ray’z Arcade Chronology is available now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.