Layer Section (Taito) Review | Mean Machines Sega - Everygamegoing

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Layer Section
By Acclaim
Sega Saturn (JP Version)

 
Published in Mean Machines Sega #38

Layer Section

Layer Section. Sounds vaguely like a geographical term, doesn't it? Like examining a cross-section of the Earth's crust and seeing all those interesting geological structures that prove the planet is made up of a thin pastry crust, a layer of sedimentary rock, a Victoria sponge and a mantle of chantilly cream.

In this case, though, it's a vertically scrolling blaster. These have, of course, been banned since the last Labour Government, but a wave of nostalgia has spurred Taito, veteran arcade sotware company, to produce the Saturn's first conventional shoot-'em-up. A blast from the past, or a leg up into the next generation?

Origin

An arcade convention, apparently, and an old dog of the vertical shooter variety.

Game Aim

Traverse eight laser-spitting levels with funny names.

Side Armed

Vertically, the game plays with intrusive borders that limit the screen size. If, however, you select 'arcade' option, the whole display turns to right angles, using all of the screen. Of course you have to turn your TV on its side to match it, which is only really convenient if you have a portable.

Mark Of Cain

There are only two weapon functions in Layer Section, roughly equating with shoot and bomb. The shot is vertical, with no way of altering the trajectory, and is simple enough.

The bombing laser is slightly more complex - a crosshair placed ahead of your craft automatically locks onto targets, which will be traced by your multiple laser discharges. The more you power-up, the more targets you can lock onto simultaneously.

The laser is also useful for reaching targets far in the background that your conventional shots can't reach.

Layer Slayer

  1. Red Power To Piece Through
    Approach through space-bound defences.
     
    Boss: Warp Zone crab boss.
  2. Gravity Of Blue Side
    Low-level combination of air and mountain equipment
     
    Boss: Skeletal crab.
  3. Phantasm Of Silver
    Low-level combination of air and mountain equipment
     
    Boss: Flying Super Fortress
  4. Fissure Of Consciousness
    Vast 3D structures as the enemy begins to concentrate itself
     
    Boss: Fissure crab

Re-Entry Heat

Each stage of Layer Section brings you down towards the planet and towards its core. Effects emphasising depth are used frequently, with enemies scaling up from the background, and alien emplacements falling to Earth. These are supplemented by the groovy psychedelic visual effects.

Marcus

Blimey, this takes me back. Fond memories of wasted afternoons hunched before horribly primitive versions of this game came flooding back. A lot's happened since those days. OK, I still haven't got a life, but gaming has come on a bit.

As immediately playable as this is (the back-firing homing lasers are especially good fun) it just isnt sophisticated or big enough to warrant a place on your shelf of Saturn games. There aren't enough levels, there isn't enough weaponry and the variety seems to mainly stem from changes in scenario.

All this could have been expanded on without harming the gameplay one jot. I'm sticking to my fond memories.

Gus

It's nice to get back to some concentrated, non-poncy gaming for a change, but this is also patently limited for the Saturn. Layer Section represents a nostalgia trip back to simplistic blasters with sprite-littered screens.

Each game is a short fix of Megadeath, with the occasional funky effect to remind you you're playing a next generation machine. Despite these, the game's lack of sophistication - no extra weapons and limited customisation to the existing ones - drives away attention. Sonically it's very average and visually it's more SNES 1993 than Sega 1995. Enjoyable up to a point but not for the forward-looking.

Verdict

Graphics 83%
P. Lots of sprite action and some admirable effects.
N. Lacklustre graphics abound.

Animation 74%
N. No particular attention to detail, with enemies as mere fodder.

Music 68%
N. Bland pap favoured by Japanese games of all genres.

Effects 76%
P. Appropriate blast effects and futuristic samples.

Playability 75%
P. A rewarding first level and busy gameplay is an immediate incentive to play.
N. The game doesn't develop as you hope.

Lastability 63%
P. The last four levels are ridiculous.
N. Too shallow to draw you in compulsively.

Overall 60%
There's nothing wrong with conventional game styles if they're impeccably presented. Layer Section is not, and as such is average.