Cursed for an eternity with the loss of a loved one. Revenge is a dish best served cold!Vampire Rage is a fast paced shooter, themed around vampires and the undead.Can you handle the RAGE?!
I am not a teenage girl nor a fan of the CW, yet here I am fooling around with vampires and rather enjoying myself. Vampire Rage is a three level vertical shooter centering around an unnamed vampire and his quest for revenge. Apparently, some demon killed his side piece, and he sets off doing the vampire thing, firing spread shots and giant green lasers at all which stand in his way. Shooters are rarely reknown for their plotlines - Radiant Silvergun and maybe Gunbird 2 being among the exceptions - and thankfully the game wastes little time before diving into the action.
Vampire Rage may not have Radiant Silvergun's interesting plot, but it did borrow its sword. The game allows players to deflect pink bullets and attack with a swing of a sword, one that is significantly longer than the one in Treasure's classic but also a good bit weaker. The sword must be recharged between uses (just a second or two delay) and is basically only able to take down cannon fodder swarms when not used for returning enemy gunfire. In addition to the sword mechanics, Mr. Vampire can fire a spread shot by tapping fire or a more powerful, larger beam weapon by holding the button down. It's pretty obvious when to use which weapon here, but the weapon system options keep things interesting and control as well as one can expect from a shooter.
What cannot be excused is the slipshod bomb system. By deflecting a large number of bullets, the player is supposedly able to aim and trigger a bomb with the right analog stick. At no point during any of my playthroughs did I find I had reliable control over when and where to deploy my bombs. It seemed more often that a bomb would just come out on its own after returning some pink bullets for massive damage. I do not see why the bomb could not simply be assigned to an unused digital button here. I also cannot understand how a Developer can make a shooter and map controls strictly to the left analog stick; the D-pad or arcade sticks are not supported here. While the game is playable in its current form and I had no problem maneuvering my pale emo guy around with the analog stick, the absence of the preferred shooter digital control setup is not appreciated.
I also do not care for the way Dracula Man blends in with the scenery or how the balls defeated enemies drop fill up the screen and obscure the view. The latter is nothing new for certain as Giga Wing 2 absolutely bathes the screen in bonus medals, but the better shooters will put breaks in the action during large scale medal assaults or hitch them up the screen a bit for warning before descending. The bloody balls home in on the blood sucking ship immediately and some may find it initially disorienting, but after a round or two players should be able to anticipate both these screen blocking swarms as well as the approximate boundaries of the character sprite's hit box. Finally, while I love that global and local leaderboards are present, Vampire Rage unfortunately allows for multiple submissions by individual accounts, a problem I have with Dock'em and some others due to how this will invariably clog up the 100 item list with just a handful of contributors.
Hopefully when the inevitable Vampire Rage 2 comes out to conclude or continue the saga presented here, the above issues will be addressed. Thankfully, none of these criticisms can significantly impede enjoyment of the game. Vampire Rage is a top class shooter and arguably the best one on Xbox Indies. Developer tricktale gives us some well crafted high resolution landscapes to traverse with four levels of background parallax for a good feeling of depth. Enemy sprites are varied and plentiful with roughly a dozen types thrown at the player across the game, and the bosses which cap each level are huge, monstrous beasts with plenty of life to them. The orchestrated foreboding soundtrack is fitting and colors the action well, and nice audio touches such as Dracula chiming in after more impressive actions help Vampire Rage feel polished and complete.
Even with a scant three levels, Vampire Rage easily shows its worth the dollar asking price, reminding players that it's about quality not quantity. While there are some nuisances to be sure, none of them detract so much as to avoid recommending the title to any shooter fan.