Iridion 3D

Iridion 3D was a release title for the GBA. Originally going to be Gameboy Color game before the developer,Shin’en, decided to move onto the GBA. An on the rails arcade shooter in the vein as Star Fox. First thing you’ll notice is the graphics. They’re great, but, well, you know, in television and movies, when they show a kid playing some generic looking video game, it looks super gamey? Yeah, Iridion 3D looks like that game. However, as harsh as that is, I like it. Its arcade-y as arcade games get. Its like when you see an Ed Hardy tattoo, the Sailor Jerry style of tattoos. Sure you can get a tattoo of anything, but a Sailor Jerry tattoo LOOKs like a tattoo. When you think of tattoo, you think of Sailor Jerry, when you think of what a video game looks like, you think of Iridion 3D.
The GBA is roughly above the SNES in terms of graphically ability, Iridion 3D, graphically speaking, is above that of Star Fox on the SNES. Unfortunately, in terms of play-ability, it falls short. The game is so bare bones that it’s ridiculous that I’m writing a review, but hey, I liked playing enough to get to the end.( and I needed a 2 hour game to beat to feel some iota of achievement.)

Iridion 3D uses the directional input for moment and the A button for firing… That’s it…The GBA also has a B button and an L and R button. They go unused. I suppose the development time was used to create some state of the art algorithm to make 2D sprites look 3D, and too its credit, it achieves that in spades, but the game play is suffering. No banking left and right with the l/r buttons, no bombs or switching weapons. Nope. It’s as basic as it gets. It would be really cool if you could play this game with an old Atari Joystick and one button, but no, well, back then when it came out, no. Iridion 3D is on Steam for download. You can play it on your comp with a thematically accurate controller, so its got that going for it.

Graphically, as nice as it is, there is no reticulum. Making aiming a chore, but after a while of figuring out where the space ship should be positioned to shoot in the right spot, you can get some good shots in. Even then, it isn’t always on point.

Dodging is another hurdle however due to lack of depth perception.

There are a number of special weapons you can equip. A red, green, purple and yellow shot.

They each have 3 levels of upgrades. Red shots go from one, to a wider two shot, to a 2/1 shot. Green is more of a scatter shot. Purple is a pill shaped shot that acts kind of like a curve ball/scatter shot, fairly redundant compared to green, then there is Yellow Shot. Yellow is the most powerful and you should equip it as soon as you can. You can only carry one weapon at a time, no switching weapons or firing modes. If you get hit, your weapon level decreases. There is no real strategy between selecting among these weapons so stick with Yellow. Yellow should always be equipped until the end of the game where there is a blue shot. The blue shot is a large blue bullet specifically made for the final boss. Other than that, no real incentive to choose between weapons.

So if this game is so bare bones, what kept me playing? The graphics and music mostly. A number of levels are a feast for the eyes. Day an night cycles and funky looking pseudo 3D environments. Musically, it holds some real bangers. While the game isn’t very challenging, it is very Zen. Cruise through space, oceans, clouds, and alien fortresses with just enough threats to keep you engaged.

Now, to keep this review from being painfully short, I’m going to review each level, and boss. If you don’t want to spoil yourself on the ‘challenge’ that awaits, go ahead and pick up the game on Steam. Otherwise…Read for a nice bedtime story?


Level 1-Escape through the tunnel:

looks pretty cool, but it gets very stale visually with its repeating background, but otherwise a good tutorial level to get you acquainted with power ups and the aiming. Now, as easy as this level is, depending on how well you do here, can affect your endgame. Here is where you should level up your weapons and aim for getting 10k points to stock up on lives. You get an extra life every 10k pts. You need to maintain level 3 lasers through to the end of the game, otherwise, you’re going to have a bad time and have to start completely over. Stick with the Red shot until level 3, when you get the Yellow Shot.

Boss 1-Refusor:

Basic boss. Shoot the core/fuse and doge bullets and yellow orbs. This boss would be too easy if it wasn’t for the orbs, which, considering later bosses, makes me wonder in what order these levels were made. Anyways, keep an eye on the yellow orbs and their pattern of movement. You’re going to notice your ship has a fat ass, and is going to be the thing that gets hit the most by those orbs.

Level 2–Dogfight Above the Pacific Ocean:
Best. song. in. the. game.

Also, one of the better designed levels. A good stream of enemies to shoot and bullets to doge. Nothing here seems overwhelming, much like the first level. The other bonus here is the changing from sunrise to sunset. You’ve been dog fighting all-day-long to save the planet. The music here, as I said, is great. This is where the ‘zen’ of the game comes in.

This level is also your first introduction to min-bosses and ONLY mini-boss in the game.

I don’t know how this guy is a miniboss, due to it being made up of the enemies You just blasted easily in the previous gif. All they’re doing is flying in a different formation. Anyways, only the blue segment is vulnerable to fire. Take it out.

Boss 2-Cytector:

Another simple boss. Lackluster to say the least, and the next few bosses get easier and easier, especially with the yellow shot. Shoot the top of the ship to blast away its armor, then shoot the turrets under that armor. Cytector will float up then down periodically and fire bullets you have to dodge, but it’s super easy. He’ll also be dropping sea-mines, but they are so off to screen, you don’t have to worry about him.

Level 3- Air Combat Above the Clouds:

Pump that OST right into my veins!
This is the level where you get the Yellow shot. Get it here and level it up to three. Try your best not to lose a life or it will downgrade. It makes the game a lot easier and I’d suggest doing so, because the shot balance in this game is asinine. Some things take way too many shots to take down that you’ll end up dodging more than shooting through this game.

Here we get more day cycles, going from day to night from level 3, back from night to day.

Boss 3-Stratosphere Base:

The most troublesome part of this boss is dodging bullets. Again with the lack of depth perception, I don’t know where the shots are coming from. Like sitting in class and getting pelted with spitballs, only to turn around and not see where they came from.
This boss has two form, and with the Yellow shot, he’ll be taken out quicker than your shields will deplete. Try not to get shot through level 3 to keep full shields up to this point.

Level 4-Moon Assault:

A good difficulty spike here in this level. There are added space-mines, unlike the sea-mines that are small and scattered about. They stay stationary and are in various patterns and lengths. This level facilitates accurate flying and dodging. The enemies are easy to shoot too, so they aren’t completely a chore to take out, and they will be firing bullets. Try your best not to get hit at all though, and if you have to choose between taking a bullet or running into an object, like a mine, take the bullet.

This level is one of the longest levels too, a test of endurance.

Boss 4-Lunar Guard:
The depth perception here is a huge pain, but this boss is easy. Try not to get in front of him, and I don’t know about the blue orbs, but they seem to hit you when you get near. They are also part of the boss, their health is tied to the bosses health, so feel free to shoot them. This boss requires a hit and run strategy.

Biggest thing you should look out for is when you kill the boss. He’ll still be shooting while he’s blowing up and while the screen fades to black. Keep dodging until level is completely over, or you might wind up losing a life after beating the boss.

Level 5-Astroid Field:
We have made it out of earth, past our moon and into an asteroid field. This level is simultaneously the hardest and easiest level. Its a shame though, because it is the most visually appealing in my book. You’re in outer space, dodging asteroids, enemy ships and a barrage of bullets, but its so poorly designed and spaced. Unlike previous levels where you meet enemies in waves. This level is just a constant flow of them with no rhyme or reason. There is a new hazard here too. The asteroids. They blend into the background that you don’t know if you’re shooting at the background or an approaching asteroid. Then take into account that some of the enemies here, even with Yellow shot to the max, take numerous shots to destroy them. You’re better left off dodging.

and dodging is what you will do.

Continuously fly around the boundary of the screen, and you won’t get hit. At all. Its a such a shame for a beautiful looking level.

Boss 5-Prostpector:

Do the same here with the Prospector, and only fly in the middle to shoot its core. Easy.

Level 6-Iridion Home Base:
Getting close the the end. The difficulty has teetered out. Not too hard or easy. This level is mostly a test of aiming, more than dodging. However, too keep your Yellow shot, you’ll have to doge the power ups. This games balancing of enemies and shot power is so de calibrated. A power up shouldn’t be an obstacle to dodge.

Also, there are little shield power ups to restore health and keep your shots up. Yes, that’s a good challenge to emphasize dodging, but with a lack of a reticulum, poor depth perception, and proper weapon balance, it becomes a chore of fighting the failed game mechanics than fighting against your own lack of skill.

Here is where it shines when it gets some enemy patterns right. The shots are firing in a clockwise fashion, and you have to follow around to take them out. This is good, but its only in this level, and the final boss of the game that do something like this. Hell, its cool that these guys are actually training you to dodge in a way the final boss will be attacking you, but this is where it hits its stride. Near the end of the game.

Back with the shield power up. To better balance it out, I suggest having the shield power up appear after 6000 pts, like how you get a life bonus at 10000 pts. Say your shields are getting real low. You’re going to be mostly dodging, and thats fairly easy, to where you end up cheesing the game, but to get that high score and get the player back into the center screen, provide that risk reward with a shield refill for taking out enemies.

Boss 6-Reactor Core:
Again, another easy boss. They went super downhill in difficulty. Dodge bullets, thats it. Again, I wonder what order these levels were actually made, because the first boss, refusor is a better boss than this guy. Try to keep full health before you get to him, then stay moderately in the center screen and shoot with the Yellow shot. He has ridiculously low health. This boss fight will be done in less than a minute.

Level 7-Planet Iridion Prime:
Here is where you get the Blue shot, made specifically for the final boss and more powerful than the Yellow shot. Equip it and keep it leveled at 3.

Since it’s the most powerful weapon, you’re going to be taking on enemies with high defense, coupled with hard aiming, you’re going to be dodging again. Not in a cheesy fashion however. Don’t worry about flying too low, you won’t take damage being close to the lava, but look out for the lava ‘mines’ that spring up from the bottom. You’re main goal here is to keep shields up, stock of lives up, and level 3 Blue shot. The final boss, unlike the last few levels, is actually a challenge.

Boss 7-Main Frame:

Hardest boss and only manageable if you stocked up on lives and have Blue shot level 3. Be ready, he has 3 forms and all his attacks hit like getting hit by objects.

First form, dodge his fire attack. Don’t worry too much about getting hit by the bullets. The fire attack does way more damage and will take a life with few hits. Get him to his next form as fast as you can. He does get slightly easier.

He will spew fire going left to right and will switch directions very quickly. Best strategy here is to try to stay close to the center of the screen. He’ll often switch when you get to a close proximity of direction he’s firing. Say the stream is going clockwise, like a minute hand. You follow behind that minute hand, if you get too close, he’ll quickly switch. Sometimes going side to side to throw you off. So stay close to the center off the screen because its easier to switch directions of the flow of fire than on the outside of the screen. You’ll move much faster in the center.

The third form is the opposite. Stay on the outer-side of the screen. He starts spewing two streams of fire. Try to keep one stream close to one side of you. Say its going clockwise, try to stay ahead of it, but not too far. Keep it close. The worst part of this boss is how many shots it will take to take him out.

After all that, you save planet earth and head home for a cold one.

That’s it. It’s pretty zen like when its good, but could use some more spice, oomph, polish. Branching paths would be good, switching between multiple weapons,bombs to drop, and loads of balancing enemy health and laser power. A lot of polish.

I can’t recommend this game, to be honest. It was a good tech demo for when the GBA came out, but it’s so bare bones as a Star Fox clone. Even as bare bones as it is, I wouldn’t recommend it to people who never played a game before. Even newbies could play the first level of Starfox with just the A button and directional buttons, well, and the L and R buttons for banking. No, I can’t recommend this game, and the only way I’d replay it is by making save states for my favorite levels to play again and to hear those killer tunes. Other than that, there is a good game wanting to get out in this, but it’s a pass.


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