Originally released in 1992 on the Japanese Sega Mega Drive, Greylancer has earned a cult following. Now outfitted with modern quality of life features, this is one action game that shooter fans will adore. It only costs $7.99 too.
The gimmick behind Greylancer is the unique control set up. Instead of just shooting forward and collecting the occasional power-up, players have access to numerous control options before they begin the campaign. In my playthrough embedded below, I chose to go with orbs that are stationed above and below the ship but the direction of their shots can be controlled using the second analog stick, essentially turning gameplay into a twin-stick shooter. This is a match made in heaven as it allows the player the flexibility of offensive attacks, something that is needed due to the diverse gameplay and level design. There are several other control options as well, all of which are highlighted in the beginning of the video.
It took about an hour to play through the campaign while watching the cutscenes (almost managed to snag all the Achievements in one play through too). For an action based shooter, there is a surprising amount of story here. The anime visuals are well done even by today’s standards so this must have blown minds back in the 16-bit era. The captain of a star fleet goes missing thanks to a bunch of bad guys so the teenaged daughter steals a prototype type ship to go save him. I actually saw a lot of parallels between this story and Star Fox 64 which debuted years later.
In addition to the thoughtful control options, the level design is what makes Greylancer so great. Each stage introduces something new to the gameplay. For example, sometimes the stage design will drift vertically, or the player will need to chew their way through barriers using a light saber attachment, for example. Even though the player is constantly shooting, there is always something new to destroy, navigate, or a different hazard to avoid. Ideas are only rarely recycled and wish more modern games took this approach as it keeps the experience fun, interesting, and always entertaining from beginning to end.
As awesome as the base game is, the modern quality of life features firmly places this downloadable game in the “highly enjoyable” category. Save states, screen and border options, and an instant rewind feature all respect the player’s time and overall fun factor. Towards the end of the game, especially with the final boss battle, the difficulty factor results in some cheap tactics. Without the rewind feature, I know I would not have been able to clear the final boss. Did I cheat using the rewind feature? Yes. Do I feel bad about it? Absolutely not. Like R-Type, one hit and it is back the last checkpoint. Purists can choose to play this way but most players will enjoy and fully utilize the enhanced features.
The power-ups are great. The control options are top-tier. The action and stage design is always action packed and enjoyable. Even the cutscenes are way better than they have every right to be. Greylancer is an all-around fun shooter that you most likely missed when it was originally released. Longtime fans should appreciate the modern features and new players will enjoy the quality shooter mechanics.
Also available on PS4 and Switch.