It's been a while since I dived into the Arcade Archives series but a new Konami shmup is a great reason to get back on the horse.
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When I started playing Arcade Archives: ORIUS, it seemed familiar and then I realised; I already have this game on the Salamander Portable collection for PSP. However, I know it as Xexex and I'm sure a lot of other shoot 'em up fans do, too. To be clear, ORIUS is simply its North American name although the power-ups in it are still Xexex logos which is pretty funny. 😆 v1d30chumz 3-236-65-63
Anyway, just what the heck is Arcade Archives: ORIUS and how does it play? On a basic level, it's essentially Konami's take on the R-Type formula seeing as you control a ship that can charge its shots as well as release a bit to damage opponents which is called a Flint here instead of a Force. A big difference in ORIUS is that the Flint is quite a powerful weapon on its own if you position and release it properly so you'll end up deploying it much more frequently than you do in R-Type. Whenever you snag it on a boss's weak point and watch it continually cause damage, it's satisfying stuff for sure. Plus, your charge attack is quite a spectacle to behold with its dramatic claw-like ripple lasers that clamp down on the enemy forces ahead. Overall, it's a satisfying and familiar formula that really packs a punch.
One thing that sets Arcade Archives: ORIUS apart is that it features brief voiced cutscenes that are kind of cheesy albeit full of retro anime charm. These moments are spliced between memorable stages and epic boss fights that really pop with environments that range from organic beings to what I can best describe as a colourful ball pit. Each boss has a substantial set of moves, too, and many of them take a rather long time to defeat so you'll have to think on your toes while strategically taking advantage of their movement patterns and weak points. The stages themselves are full of tricky parts as well such as narrow moving corridors, levels that have some verticality to them, and enemies with unpredictable attacks. It all adds up to a supremely challenging yet gratifying spacefaring adventure.
Thankfully, Arcade Archives: ORIUS includes a few versions that you can play as you can select the Japanese, European, and North American releases with the former 2 being called Xexex and only the latter being titled ORIUS. Other differences include audio rebalancing and that the Japanese version uses lives and checkpoints. There are also the standard Arcade Archives Hi Score and Caravan modes to help extend the replay value as you aim to outdo your previous efforts while hopefully climbing the online leaderboards. 🏆
Although dodging projectiles, blasting enemies, and powering up your ship can be a ton of fun, Arcade Archives: ORIUS also has its downsides with the most annoying of which being the health system. Specifically, your health depletes far too quickly and there's very little feedback whenever you get hit so it's often perplexing as to what exactly hit you, especially considering how visually chaotic things get at times. Of course, the Japanese version has lives but getting set back to a checkpoint can be even more frustrating. There's also severe slowdown regularly which even messes with the controls as you might inexplicably stop shooting from time to time even though you're pushing the button. Finally, some segments are downright infuriating quarter-wasters such as a boss that faces backwards and is super-tricky to shoot and a regular enemy with large legs that sweep across most of the screen thus leaving you very little room. 😅
Konami has an incredible library of classic arcade shoot 'em ups and Arcade Archives: ORIUS is definitely on the more obscure side of the equation. Its R-Type-inspired gameplay is a blast but it's also a diamond in the rough with issues that often get in the way of the fun.
- + Enjoyable shoot 'em up gameplay with a clever spin on the classic R-Type formula
- + Lots of memorable stages and bosses
- + Includes 3 versions and a couple extra modes
- - Taking damage doesn't result in enough feedback or recovery time
- - Severe slowdown messes with controls
- - Some segments are downright aggravating