Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire

What a mouthful. The title translates roughly to something like “Legend of the Intergalactic Police Women Sapphire”. I really don’t know what that ‘sapphire’ is doing there, but who really gives a shit? I don’t and neither should you.

The game was produced by Hudson and released for the PC Engine in 1995. It is a top-down 2d vertical shooter featuring four playable characters who, like the name of the game would suggest, are police women. Despite them all looking about 14 years old, they have no problem kicking some serious ass in their space crafts.

The game has you traveling through time and each level takes place in a different point in history (and the future, of course). This makes for some nicely varied levels; everything from a high-tech mega-city to ancient Egypt. You never know what you’re going to get. The levels are a little bit longer than your run-of-the-mill shooter, but not by a whole lot. Each level seems to have a couple of sub-bosses before the proper boss fight at the end.

The controls are great, the graphics a feast for the eyes and the gameplay is solid. But what really blew me away with this game is its soundtrack. It fuckin’ rocks. The game is on CD, so I expected a better audio experience than a cartridge based game, but holy shit I had no idea what was coming. Outrageously awesome wailing guitar solos and a thumping baseline. Seriously, the soundtrack to this game is better than a lot of the new rock that’s clogging up the airwaves right now.

Weapons are pretty interesting. Some of the larger enemies drop weapon upgrades when they are destroyed. Getting a color different than your own will change it to that weapon type, and collecting a powerup of the same color as the one you are using will increase its power. It’s the same system that the game Raiden uses, only there are more colors. A lot of enemies drop these powerups, so choosing a different colored powerup to change your main weapon doesn’t really feel like a waste.

(CD)Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire (J) - 150118_1112_2 (CD)Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire (J) - 150118_1113

There is one little flaw in the gameplay that rears its ugly head with the worst possible timing. The player character moves quite slowly. Or more to the point, more slowly than most of the enemies. The cannon fodder that comes flying at you doesn’t normally pose much of a problem, but you really need to watch yourself during the boss fights. The boss characters can move much, much faster than you can, and they will fuck up your shit with speedy attacks and cheap shots. The annoyance is compounded by the fact that the game doesn’t use a life bar; one hit and you’re out. This means that you can get to the final boss of the level only for it to sucker-punch you dead and make you lose all your powerups. You then regenerate with a glorified pea-shooter which is about as effective as harsh language.

But even that little gripe can’t take away from the overall awesomeness of this game. Ginga Fukei Desetsu Sapphire gets Two thumbs, way the fuck up.

(CD)Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire (J) - 150118_1115 (CD)Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire (J) - 150118_1116_4 (CD)Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire (J) - 150118_1117_1

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