Gaming Today Impressions of Omega Five
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Price: 800 Microsoft Points (about $10)
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10 and older (Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes)
Release Date: January 2008
Every Wednesday, I log into my Xbox Live account and check the Marketplace to see if there are any new gaming goodies to try out. And almost every Wednesday, I’m disappointed by a re-release of a twenty year old arcade title or a strange puzzler that’s all flash and no fun. But every so often I can find one game that piques my interest enough for me to throw down the Microsoft Points needed to get it. This past Wednesday, that game was Omega Five.
Omega Five is decidely simple on the outside, since the gameplay is about as straightforward as can be. The left analog stick controls your movement, while the right one controls the direction you shoot. As you move along, you can grab different weapons and power them up. There are two different characters to choose from at the start and one that can be unlocked later. They each have their own unique weapons and abilities, which forces you to change your strategy depending on who you play with. Ruby — a pirate for some inexplicable reason — shoots your standard projectiles that you’ve probably seen in most side-scrolling shooters. Tempest — a four-armed alien for some inexplicable — shoots liquid-like blobs that fly through the air and are even affected by gravity. I have yet to unlock the samurai character, but he apparently slices at enemies with a sword and sics his faithful dog on them.
There’s no story, no cheesy cut scenes; not even some text explaining why a pirate girl, alien thing, and samurai are all so anxious to destroy all these mechanical monsters. Personally, I see that as a good thing, since it lets you just hop right in and start blasting away. It really feels like the sort of game I would’ve lost many quarters to had it been released in an arcade years ago.
What keeps the game interesting though are the varied enemies. They each seem to have their own unique attributes as well, and they swap out before fighting them can get old. You’ll encounter certain enemies a few times, and then you’ll never see them again. Most of the reason I’m still trying to get farther in the game is because I really want to see what else is in store.
The graphics of this game are definitely worth noting. Before its release, the developers kept promising some stunning HD visuals in the game, and they certainly delivered. Omega Five is probably the best looking game on the Xbox Live Arcade. There are full retail games for the Xbox 360 that don’t look this pretty. The screen is usually packed with several enemies, most of which flutter in and out of the background or set pieces. Part of the reason the most powerful weapons in the game feel so satisfying is because of how much visual action they can unleash. Tempest’s weapons are particularly fun to watch as he lobs streams of volatile liquid that morph and flow through the air.
Bottom line: this is the best side-scrolling shooter on Xbox Live Arcade next to Metal Slug 3, and that’s saying something. Omega Five encompasses just what the titles on the Xbox Live Arcade are all about: fast, simple, addictive fun. This is one of the handful of games on the Marketplace that is actually worth the $10. It’s definitely way better than Uno.