“Let’s blow this game up and go home.”
Take that!… sand?
RELEASE DATE: 03/26/88 – (JP), 09/88 – (US), 1988 – (EU)
“Stay young, go dancing,” sang Ben Gibbard. Good advice. I would add, “Stay young, don’t wear 3D glasses.” Blade Eagle 3-D is the latest in a series of headaches I’ve been forced to endure at the hands of Sega’s 3D technology. While the game itself attempts to be a serviceable shoot-em-up, the mechanic to switch between the background and foreground to show the effects of the 3D serves the technology more than the player.
Clearly, Blade Eagle was developed for Illuminati purposes.
What does one want or expect from a game called Blade Eagle 3-D? Perhaps a game where you control a robotic eagle fighting for truth, justice, and the right to rip faces. Ah, but Blade Eagle does not take its title so literally. The game is yet another in Sega’s long line of space-bang-bang sizzlers – Astro Warrior, Zaxxon 3D, Strategic Defense Initiative, and so forth.
There is a surprisingly in-depth story for Blade Eagle, but my eyes literally crossed as I was reading it. Allow me to summarize for you so as to keep your eyes intact. As a fighter ship cruising the galaxy, you make your way across three planets: Triton, Proxima, and Mira. Each planet has three levels, Outer Space, Planet’s Surface, and Inside the Arvian’s Fortress. The Outer Space levels all look the same: you’re in space surrounded by enemy spacecraft and space fixtures of evil intent. The other two types – Planet Surface and Fortress – have backgrounds that imply that Triton is a water planet, Proxima is a lava planet, and Mira is an… outer space planet? Lots of stars and potential space dust there; can’t win ’em all, I guess. The point is, the game’s levels are bland and nondescript, especially when compared to Sega’s fantastic Power Strike. You’ve seen Blade Eagle 3-D before in far superior forms.
The bosses go down quickly. A few hits and they’re toast.
Blade Eagle‘s one distinct mechanic – the ability to switch between background and foreground – is poorly utilized, to be polite. In the Outer Space levels, if your plane is in the foreground, you’re able to cruise by whole rows of enemies and their projectiles. This increases your self-esteem and makes you believe, foolishly, that you’ve outsmarted the game. Later surface and fortress levels, however, have enemies in the background that can kill you in the foreground and background. Now, this is nothing new. Xevious did this all the way back in ’82, but the game provided a healthy balance between background and foreground enemies. Also, you could kill every enemy in Xevious. Not so with Blade Eagle. In level three, I switched to the background to destroy these particularly annoying ground-centered starfish-looking enemies, and discovered that I couldn’t kill them in the background or foreground. There’s a brief lag as you switch between perspectives that allows the enemy to kill you. Whether you’re in the background or foreground, you’re bombarded by enemies and slowdown and 3D that looks cool at first – like most 3D – but quickly causes so many migraines.
Water brains are by far the slimiest brains you’ll ever shoot out of the sky.
There are power-ups to aid your quest against migraines. Equip up to two shadow ships for thrice the shooting power. Later levels have bosses that, once beaten, automatically level up your weapon to double shot, laser beams, and even particle beams. I would expect power-ups like these in any shooter, let alone a 3-D shooter designed to take advantage of Sega’s uncomfortable headgear. The power-ups help you get by until you die and they disappear and you’re left cold, weak, and alone in space.
Blade Eagle 3-D a.k.a. “I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here.”
Blade Eagle 3-D is the last 3D game I’ll have to endure for awhile, and may I say with all sincerity, thank the great good Lord above. I don’t know how many more of Sega’s experiments I can endure without throwing in the towel. The worst part is, Blade Eagle 3-D doesn’t even have promise as a 2D shooter. The plane-switching mechanic, in 3D or without, ruins the game. Take away the mechanic and the shmup is extra-unordinary. The game just can’t win. “Life is sweet in the belly of the beast,” sang Ben Gibbard. Speak for yourself, Ben.