Whilst we’ve seen plenty of remasters and revamps of previously released titles this generation, it’s typically been games from the last two generations as opposed to those that launched on 16-bit consoles. Assault Suit Leynos is an exception to the rule, the game originally launching back in 1990 on the SEGA Mega Drive (or Genesis for you North American folk).
I’ve never played it. In fact, I’ll be honest and admit that before I knew that it was coming to the Playstation 4 I’d never even heard of it. This new release is a modernised take on the original, offering all new visuals, sounds and even some changes to the gameplay. My lack of experience with the original release means that I can’t really compare them both, though the old school heritage of the shooter is certainly clear in this modern edition of the game.
The story of Assault Suit Leynos is simple – you take control of a powerful mech suit and wreak havoc as you wipe out an army of Earth’s outcasts that want to destroy the world. It’s up to you as a member of the Earth Defense League to stop them.
Your mech suit is pretty sweet, with it switching between ‘land’ and ‘air’ modes for two different gameplay experiences – battling on the land felt like more of a classic platforming/shooting side-scroller, whilst battling in out in the air sees the game take a more horizontal shooter approach. You can’t switch between the two modes freely, but it does manage to add some variety to each stage.
What you can switch around freely though is your weapon choice. There’s a decent variety on offer with the likes of machine guns, shotguns and rocket launchers all making an appearance. You unlock more weapons as you progress through the game too so you can always switch things up to best suit how you like to play. It’s worth taking a different selection into each level though, with each weapon having their own pros and cons that you’ll have to be wary of.
Unfortunately the aiming in the game can be pretty awkward due to the fact that aiming and movement are both controlled with the left stick (or d-pad if you prefer that). It results in each movement you make effecting your line of sight – it can be pretty difficult to aim at something when you’re constantly moving to avoid enemy attacks. You can lock your aiming line in place by pressing the L1 button, but even that isn’t too effective when you consider that the sheer volume of enemies means you’ll need to keep changing the direction where you’re aiming. I think the game would’ve really benefitted from adapting to the modern approach and just using a twin-stick shooting style, though maybe trying to keep things as close to the original as possible restricted that.
Other than the aiming, the controls of Assault Suit Leynos are pretty solid. There’s a real authentic and clunky (in a good way) feel to the controls that actually make you feel like you’re controlling this huge, mechanical suit.
Whilst classic games often had you collecting health packs, hearts or even chickens to heal your character, Assault Suit Leynos was more ahead of the time with health that regenerated automatically. This is incredibly useful, especially considering the amount of damage you’ll be taking in the game, but it also shows that the game’s mechanics aren’t all dated.
Enemy shots are constantly coming towards you and you’ll have a hard time avoiding everything. At times, the projectiles can be a little too small to make out – the action on-screen is chaotic, so you’ll sustain a lot of damage simply because you can’t clearly see everything that’s going on.
Besides looking after yourself, the varying objectives on each level mean that you’ll often have to look after a particular ally or lead them to a particular location. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that ‘escort missions’ suck, and unfortunately it’s the same case here. Mission objectives do vary a lot though so you’re not always stuck with the daunting babysitting task.
Older games are often known for being difficult affairs and Assault Suit Leynos certainly does provide a tricky challenge. Enemies pack a punch, bosses are beefy bullet-sponges whilst the plethora of projectiles coming your way can be pretty overwhelming. Fortunately there are plenty of checkpoints so you don’t lose too much progress, whilst the fact there are unlimited continues and that you can save in between levels makes it an easier experience too.
There are only eight levels to play through in the game and it shouldn’t take you more than two hours to run through them all. There’s the incentive of high scores and unlocking additional weapons to make you replay levels, though in honesty it didn’t do enough to encourage me to return initially – it’s the sort of game I could easily see myself casually blasting through again in the near future though…
Visually, Assault Suit Leynos looks great with a retro styled aesthetic that still manages to feel fresh and vibrant. I actually checked online to see the differences between the original and modern release and it’s great to see they maintained the classic style of the game. Whilst everything looks great, the action packed nature of the game means it’s often difficult to keep track of everything that’s happening on-screen – things like text boxes appear in the midst of all the action, so following the story and in-game events can often take a lower priority to actually surviving an enemy onslaught.
The soundtrack features remixes of the original tracks of the game, so it’s something I couldn’t appreciate as much as someone who’d actually played through the original. There are some decent tracks though and the synth beats fit in nicely with the old-school essence of the game. The actual sound effects featured in Assault Suit Leynos are great though, with the giant mechs thumping, clanging and exploding with power – everything really feels like it packs a punch.
Assault Suit Leynos is far from perfect with its awkward aiming controls, the overwhelming on-screen action and the short length of the game. It’s very, VERY old-school too, but what would you expect from a remastered 90s shooter?
I’m sure fans of the original will love it and there’s certainly fun to be had with the game. There are just a lot of better old-school styled games out there right now that trump Assault Suit Leynos in almost every department. Still, if you want to blast a few hours away with a classic shooter then you’ll get some enjoyment out of Assault Suit Leynos.
Developer: Dracue Software
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Release Date: 12/07/2016
Format(s): Playstation 4, PC