Retro Resolution Retro Review
Title: Side Arms: Hyper Dyne
Yoshiki Okamoto (as Kihaji Okamoto)
Noritaka Funamizu (as Poo)
In the dying days of 1986 Capcom unleashed one of the most gloriously named coin-ops ever, in Side Arms: Hyper Dyne. This second instalment of the Jet Pack Heroes trilogy, sequel to Section Z, was seemingly designed to appeal directly to my then-teenage self, featuring glittering robots, outrageous weaponry, and spectacular explosions.
Allied to the visual splendour is a wondrous sonic assault, a cacophony of crisp lasers, thunderous detonations, pounding electro-magnetic bolts, and (inevitably) croaking toads…
According to the charming Engrish of the promotional flyer ‘a desperate battle between the human race and “Bozon”, who intends to exterminate all living things on the earth, grew intense.’
You enter the fray in the guise of Lieutenant Henry, traversing this horizontally and vertically scrolling shmup by means of your armoured Mobilesuit exoskeleton (ably assisted by Sergeant Sanders in simultaneous two-player games).
Side Arms introduces the interesting play dynamic of bidirectional firepower, a necessity given the enemy’s penchant for assaulting the playfield from any point; the mechanic was later fully realised via a 360 degree rotational control in the trilogy’s final title, Forgotten Worlds.
To withstand the Bozon onslaught it is vital to collect traditional shmup weapon upgrades, alongside decidedly unconventional cows and fruit (essential for any self-respecting Powersuited hero eager to consume his Five-a-Day whilst boosting his calcium intake).
A special ‘combination pow’ combines the Mobilesuits of both players (single-player mode sees the protagonist temporarily bestowed a second exoskeleton) granting full 8-way firepower. In two-player mode both soldiers retain control, generally recasting the frenetic sprint through the levels as a hobbled three-legged race.
Side Arms boasts an all-time favourite mid-level boss of mine, namely a screen-filling rotating wheel; when pounded with the arms at your disposal enormous electrical arcs issue forth, sending the disc spinning with ever-increasing velocity until it is rendered asunder, accompanied with viscerally satisfying explosions and a scintillating aural cacophony.
Great though it is, Capcom‘s shooter unfortunately suffers from decidedly unbalanced gameplay, despite the wealth of weaponry on offer. Whilst enemy impacts mercifully strip your suit only of the most recent power-up, the game awards a minuscule grace period upon re-spawn; die amongst a swarm of bullets and you will most likely suffer a Jet Set Willy-style infinite death loop.
Mercifully it is impossible to impact with the scenery, in contrast with many unforgiving games of its ilk, not least the notorious R-Type.
‘Lieutenant Henry and Sergeant Sanders landed on the earth operating “Mobilesuits”. Can they save the blue globe?’ Only your skill, or an underhanded infinite supply of virtual MAME credits, will tell…
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