Whip Rush

 

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“I could go my own waaaaay.”

 

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Many a parent would have passed up Whip Rush if not for its Seal of Quality.

 

PLAYERS: 1

PUBLISHER: Sega (JP), Renovation (US)

DEVELOPER: VIC Tokai

GENRE: Shoot-em-up

RELEASE DATE: 05/26/90 – (JP)

                                             10/90 – (US)

 

If you’re a fan of the shoot-em-up genre, you’ve played many a nondescript title like Whip Rush. The shooting mechanics are solid, the controls are tight, you do indeed “shoot them up.” And yet, after you’ve beaten it and moved on, you fail to remember any of the game’s defining characteristics. Either you have early onset Alzheimer’s (and I really hope you don’t), or Whip Rush‘s content is as lightweight as its title.

 

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John Lithgow will meet us there.

 

You control the ship Whip Rush (who looks a bit like Opa-Opa!) through seven levels of harrowing space madness. Armed only with a pew-pew bullet stream at first, you acquire weapon upgrades by destroying floating capsules. Your upgrades are: mega lasers, homing missiles, and fireballs that move in the opposite direction. Lasers are the strongest upgrade, but can only be shot in front. This makes it the wrong weapon to have for bosses with hard-to-reach weak points. Homing missiles will ensure enemies are hit, but they move slower and their power is slightly weaker than the laser. Fireballs spew out in whatever direction they want, and their sporadic movements make them worthless.

 

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Dastardly peach rings!

 

Because each weapon has a significant weakness, in order to handle each level’s various challenges, you’ll need to switch between weapons. The problem with this is that upgrade capsules do not appear often, and when they do, you don’t always know what weapon you’ll need for the obstacles ahead. If you choose the wrong weapon for a particular portion of the level – say a cluster of enemies appears behind you and all you have is the front-facing laser equipped – it could result in significant death.

 

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Better pray to Neil deGrasse Tyson that you make it out alive.

 

The Power Claws – tiny floating units that can be added to Whip Rush – are all but necessary for the game’s more intense segments. The units provide additional firepower and, when they appear, they float atop and below the ship. Up to two Power Claws can be equipped and spun in front, behind, on top or below Whip Rush, depending on the direction you want to attack. They also can’t be destroyed, no matter what you do to them, so feel free to ram them into enemies who’re getting a little too close to Whip Rush.

 

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Not even a Triple Laser can pierce this orb’s metallic heart.

 

Whip Rush is mostly a traditional horizontally-scrolling shoot-em-up, in that, you progress from left to right, merrily shooting other ships while avoiding their projectiles. Occasionally, though, the game pulls a spook on you and flips your direction. In level 1 for example, everything is proceeding as usual, when the stage suddenly descends. Large, formless obelisks (that will kill you if you touch them) move slowly past you as you float downward, while little robotic insect ships buzz around your personal space. Level 3 takes advantage of Whip Rush’s generous proportions and propels you horizontally forwards, backwards and vertically upwards through narrow corridors.

 

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Forget this noise.

 

What, if anything, sets Whip Rush apart from other unremarkable shoot-em-ups of yesteryear? The Power Claws, while neat, are a feature seen in both the Mega Drive shoot-em-up, Curse and used to superb effect in the underrated NES gem, S.C.A.T.. The power-ups aren’t effective. Generic level design fails to leave any mental imprints. The bosses are your stereotypical oversized machines you see in most shoot-em-ups. But! The game does allow you, at any time, to speed up and slow down your craft by pressing ‘A.’ This is cooler than you might think. No longer do you have to focus on getting speed power-ups in order for your ship to move faster than a sleeping snail. Want to slow down and consider your trajectory? Go for it. Want to soar through the galaxy like some intergalactic Autobahn? You have the power. The speed control is not a game-saving feature, but it is one I wish would be implemented in more shoot-em-ups.

 

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The Janitor Robot comes to settle the score.

 

Our time together is complete, Whip Rush. You have crappy power-ups, speed control, and a title that reminds me of a frosty Sonic beverage. Even with that information, I will likely forget I played you within a week or two. Man can not live by sugar alone.

 

C

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16 thoughts on “Whip Rush

  1. I think scrolling shooters in general are hard to distinguish from one another. It’s one of those genres that is more limited in its options than say an RPG or even action platformers. In my experience it’s great art and music that make the best stand out

    Liked by 1 person

      • NES shooters are pathetic aside from a select few. The system couldn’t handle the spritework. And they lacked depth and satisfying powerups.

        16-bit was the golden era for spaceship shooters. You still haven’t gotten to the good Thunderforce games. Or Gleylancer and the Trouble Shooter series. Slick level designs and ways to shoot in multiple directions.

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    • Nah. Rpgs are boring, cliche , and lack gameplay. Fuddling through random battle menus, finding the right npc to talk to for progression, and lame maze dungeons with treasure chests scattered around, hoping to find a piece of armor with +1 attack/-1 defense. Fighting the same enemies over and over and over.

      Action platformers = walk right, jump around through forest level, sewer level, warehouse level, fire level, ice level.

      Shooters ain’t for pussies. I’m not very good at them but get more enjoyment and satisfaction from pure twitch gameplay than walking around as corny, bigheaded sprites, wondering where the fuck I’m supposed to go next. Don’t have time to sit through pages of cheesy dialog. Sometimes you just want to fire a game up and go.

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      • Every genre has its redundancies. I used to give the majority of shoot-em-ups moderate-to-high marks on the NES because I generally enjoy the genre. However, recently, the lack of innovation in the genre during the late 80s/early 90s is starting to get to me. Maybe I’ve just hit a rough patch.

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  2. This was one of my absolute favorite shooters when I was little. It’s got solid gameplay, catchy music and it still holds up pretty well today.

    Granted I didn’t have a lot of different shooters to play from as a kid, so I’m sure that colors my experience, but I still think it’s better than Arrow Flash, and a lot of the other spaceship shooters.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I kind of love this game. As always, at the time the graphics were really impressive but may fail to impress now.

    This game had just enough different to provide a unique shooter. The options that could rotate, shoot out and attack were a step above the one in R-type. Plus as you mentioned the multi-scrolling levels were really fun. It really does pay to learn which weapon is best for which section. A mark of a good shooter IMO. The shooting felt really good. And it’s fun to play. Also it has a really cool opening and ending cinema.

    I played this again 3 or 4 years ago and still enjoyed it. I think what stood out was shooting in different directions. One secret to getting good is obviously shooting out your options to kill enemies, it’s quite a strong attack, even on bosses when done properly. Another is the firebal is the strongest weapon in the game but the hardest to use. It shoots in whatever direction your moving. So if you can train your brain to change your plays tyke to use it, you can do quite good. You basically have to instead of shooting continuously antipathy the enemies location, line yourself up in a direction and make a small movement towards it and fire. I beat the whole game with that weapon once.

    The frustrating part was the speed control for me. There are definetly sections you’ll want increased speed. But cycling through with one button was always a pain. As the slowest and fastest speeds are insanely fast and snail paced slow. And you have to cycle through these speeds to get to the desired speed. It’s like if you were slowing down for a stop sign and had to jam on the gas peddle first before letting off. Plus you have to look at the speed UI to know where your at if going for a specific speed taking your eye off the action. What I eventually did was find my comfortable default speed. Then memorize a few combinations to to my prefferered fast speed and slow speed and back. Like literally I’d be like I need to go fast, Press speed 3 times. Slowdown press 8 (you’d always want to end with the speed going up.) And at her button combo for slow. It made it much easier when you didn’t have to look at the speed. The best solution would be of course to have a speed up and speed down button. But it could be memorized and adjusted to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Sean. You definitely took to it more than me. My first playthrough was definitely more favorable. I dug the different directional changes and the Power Claws (options), but I played it again a couple days later to refresh my memory and found it considerably more derivative. Not sure what happened there.

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  4. There’s weird AI and difficulty in this. The better you do, the harder the midbosses and bosses become. They’ll have extra attacks and turn into bigger sponges. Punishing you for getting better at the game. That’s cheap and makes it completely broken. Unless you’re a master at these things.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s probably a bit better than you give it credit for, but I wouldn’t say it rises to the occasion enough to call it a top-tier Genesis shooter. Rather, it’s a solid game with a high difficulty level that makes it attractive to shooter fans because it provides that challenge we often crave. Graphically, it’s derivative, though at the time of its release, it sure looked good. The soundtrack, however, is one of the high points of the game, with lots of bass and cool stuff going on. Play it through good headphones or a nice stereo/surround system, and you’d be surprised how good it sounds. It doesn’t read Thunder Force III or Lightening Force levels of greatness, but it’s quite competent. I pulled this one out a couple weeks ago because I hadn’t in a while, and I forgot how utterly difficult it can be. I was inspired to play it because I watched a review and LP that @zfunk007, aka Aggro Sky, and he makes it look relatively easy. By no means, however, is it even remotely easy! I get my butt handed to me each time. But it’s a good enough game to keep me coming back from time to time.

    Taylor mentioned Arrow Flash – that’s another Revonation/Telenet shmup release for the Genesis. It’s got an interesting transformation mechanic, where you can change from ship to mech and back, both having different strengths and weaknesses. It’s a solid game as well, though I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to which is the better game. Arrow Flash is certainly the easier of the two.

    Liked by 2 people

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