Friday, June 23, 2023

Judgement Silversword (Wonderswan Color, 2001)


Wonderswan Color gets on the board with this shockingly good space shooter. Shockingly good for a portable system from the Game Boy Color era, that is. I don't know how they were able to get this game to play as well as it does with zero slowdown considering the massive number of moving objects onscreen at any given time. It's safe to say the Wonderswan Color was a really impressive portable and it's too bad we never got it in the states. In any case, this game will float you a few hundred dollars on eBay, or you could just download the ROM and actually have a shot at beating the game due to save states. Because this game is ludicrously hard. There's also a Steam version for like $20, but no states so good luck. It sure does play well, despite its near-impossibility.

First of all, the graphics are seriously impressive. This system was punching above its weight.

All you've got is one weapon, and you can alternate between spread shots (seen here) and...

...straight shots, which are more concentrated and do a lot more damage. Both have their uses and flipping between them is needed.

The main antagonist seems to be Mitsurugi, this Xenogears-esque mech with a sword. He drops in every once in a while to antagonize the player.

Stage 9 boss. The difficulty curves upward at a very smooth rate, and the first few stages get easier and easier the more you fail at the game.

Here's a more standard shooter boss, a giant ship. This game is interesting because it doesn't really have standard levels. It has 30 "stages" and they can be anywhere from like 20 seconds to 2 minutes long. Each consists of a bunch of set enemies, and you get a quick reprieve between stages. These quick reprieves are a good time to mash Save State because you seriously aren't gonna get any other chances to.

There's also a frontal force field you can put up at will to absorb enemy projectiles. It works really well as a block button, though it'll quickly get worn down if you keep it held up. Works better to activate it in quick presses, since it refreshes when it's let go of for a second.

About halfway through the 30 stages, things start getting completely ridiculous with the bullet hells and different types of projectiles. I'll say it again: Somehow this system has NO SLOWDOWN. I mean there's a tiny hint of it if you really try hard enough, but it's never really a thing.

Yeah, this one particular section is BRUTAL. Get them off me!

The Stage 20 boss is a real PITA. It's the flying shield of Mitsurugi, and it zips around raining projectiles. This is way harder than anything up to this point and it took me numerous tries. Good thing I have between-stage states.

So what happens if you don't use states and just play normally? Welp, run out of lives ONCE and the game is over, back to stage 1. Seriously. I would not be able to get past this fight if I were playing that way.

Get past that and Stage 21 takes you to...the moon?

Things get even more chaotic here and the regular foes feel more like minibosses.

Even regular enemies unleash total bullet hell. Why am I playing this again? What have I gotten into??

Now cruise missles are raining on our hero like he's a small country that ran afoul of the Military-Industrial Complex.

Reach Stage 26 and you get to deal with... TWO of the almost-impossible mirror shield boss at once!

This is absolutely horrific, and with no continues... good luck.

Hell, I can't even get past this fight even with states.

And I'm playing on EASY MODE.

This game is completely nuts. Will this be another Touhou type situation where it takes me years to beat the game? Not if I can help it!

Wait a minute! What's that 10th one? Was this somebody's idea of a joke?

Hell this whole game is somebody's idea of a joke!

Trying again... as I get a bit better at this, I've realized that destroying foes (or perhaps doing damage) rejuvenates the force field that you're using to block projectiles. Balancing offense and defense is key if you want to keep that shield primed and ready.


Whose idea was it to have two of this shield as a boss, anyway? Why not have two of anything in any of these games? What's the toughest fight you can think of? Kintaro in Mortal Kombat II? How about we just make that fight against TWO Kintaros? The kids will love it!


Wonderswan Color? More like WONDERSWAN CURSE.

Yeah, and it's such a bland boss, too. These two shields flying around. Not even a cool giant mech. I have another one, how about Ridley in Super Metroid? How about Velius in Final Fantasy Tactics? Might as well make us fight two Zeromuses in a pincer attack! Why wouldn't you? That's great game design! Maybe on like the second-to-last stage it'll make me fight THREE of these things?

Oh My God. By making it here with 11 extra lives, I finally managed to brute-force my way through Stage 26 by just blasting the mirrors as best I could while trying to just stay alive long enough to do some damage with each life. 11 lives...was actually just enough to brute-force the fight. Then I immediately game over on Stage 27.

Well the good news is each run-through only takes like 20 minutes and I get better every time. Still, no matter how many lives I get to Stage 26 with, those two shields are taking 'em all.

After you make a certain amount of progress (stage 10 or so?) you unlock the ability to pause. It has to be enabled though. So you go back out to the main menu and enable pausing, and that actually makes the game waaaay easier. Save states can actually (barely) be used, but more importantly you can use pause to slow things down and look for openings, which is crucial as we reach... Mars?

I fight this guy one more time, then...

We get another giant ship boss (finally) for the last fight. This thing is a beast, still nowhere near as bad as the two shields though.

By hammering the pause button CONSTANTLY to look for openings in this complete barrage, I finally eke out a win.

My God.

I... I did it. Judgement Silversword is beaten.

According to Youtube, play on Normal mode and there are 3 more bosses after the previous one, in rapid succession, on Mars. I think they're all this guy in different forms. Well in any case I'm good with finishing the game on easy. "Easy" my ASS!

Judgement Silversword...more like Judgement Silver-fuck.

Good game.

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