Whether you know it as Gunlock or RayForce, the underrated 1994 shoot 'em up is back with Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute.
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As an old-school gamer who loves Taito and shoot 'em ups, you know that I'm a fan of RayForce and its couple of sequels. What we have here is a port of the Sega Saturn release and even though its title would lead you to believe that it's 2 games, Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute simply contains 2 different region releases of the same game. Specifically, the Japanese release is called Layer Section while the western release is Galactic Attack. It's basically the same game and even after playing both, I can't tell the difference. v1d30chumz 44-192-38-248
Anyway, RayForce originally debuted in arcades and I wish that the arcade release was included here because it is different as it features a longer playfield thus making the gameplay more vertical. However, I'm happy to say that the Saturn version we have here handles its wider playfield very well. Whereas some shoot 'em ups have frustrating camera panning to accommodate for console play, everything is intuitive. Plus, you can choose to play with a more vertical playfield via the in-game options menu but it's still not arcade-perfect.
So, what makes Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute special gameplay-wise? Besides being a vertical shoot 'em up that features satisfying and challenging gameplay, it also boasts a superbly enjoyable laser system where you can lock-on to enemies below then fire whenever you want to unleash a homing strike. Previous vertical shoot 'em ups such as Xevious forced you to aim and time bombs which is fun but being able to lock-on by simply scanning a reticle over enemies as you rapid-shoot a stream of bullets is just awesome. 😄
For a game released in the mid-'90s, RayForce looks fantastic. Even though its sequels RayStorm and RayCrisis feature 3D visuals, there's nothing quite like the detailed 2D enemy sprites and flashy shot effects here. The fact that you're dealing with 2 planes of enemies as they fly around and come closer makes it rather impressive as everything manages to remain as detailed and eye-fetching as it does. Plus, the energetic electronic music is absolutely fantastic and will certainly get you in the mood to do some shooting. 🎵
Although Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute doesn't feature any museum-style content which is kind of disappointing, it does have a welcome collection of options that you can tinker with. Being able to save and load at any time as well as rewind and slow things down are great modernizations and for the more hardcore, there's an online ranking mode that thoroughly tests your skills. On top of that, you can alter the screen with various settings, rebind the controls, and adjust accessibility settings that can take some of the challenge away as well as allow you to jump to any stage with any power-up distribution which will make practicing levels quite easy. 😊
It's wonderful that modern gamers can enjoy the greatness that is RayForce via Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute. Taito were ahead of their time and once you play this gem of a shoot 'em up, I'm sure you'll agree wholeheartedly.
- + Tight shmup gameplay that has held up beautifully over the decades
- + Awesome music and enemy designs
- + Solid selection of options
- - Could use some museum-style content
- - I wish it included the arcade version