Ether Vapor: Remastered is an interesting side-scrolling shoot ’em up for the PC developed by Japanese company Eidelweiss and published in the US by Capcom USA. It is an updated version of the previously released Ether Vapor title. The Remastered version sports a new coat of paint, bringing the visuals up from Playstation 2 quality to very nice high-rez textures. Playing through the pre-release build that we have, it is apparent that Ether Vapor: Remastered wants to make a name for itself in the PC gaming market.
As I noted before, Ether Vapor: Remastered is a PC exclusive game at this time. Before you groan about how you need a $3,000 gaming rig to play PC games, I want to let you know that if your computer was made in the past ten years, and isn’t a Mac, you should be able to run this with flying colors. The System Requirements are very reasonable.
Operating System: Windows XP / Vista / 7
Processor: Pentium 4 / 3.0 GHz or better
Memory: 512 MB or more
Hard Drive: 100 MB or more
DirectX 9.0 (any package released after April 18, 2011)
Graphics: VGA with DirectX 9.0 or later 3D functionality. Integrated graphics chips are not supported but my still work.
Sound: DirectSound compatible sound device
It should also be noted that the game is playable via keyboard or gamepad. I used a wired Xbox 360 controller and it controlled just fine. Speaking of, the game controls really well. The game is not easy so having precise control over your ship is imperative. The difficulty thankfully does not come from faulty controls. The difficulty comes from sheer challenge. It’s not exactly a bullet hell style of shooter, but it has it’s moments where you could be convinced otherwise. There are no cheap tricks, it’s purely based on player competency, which is how good shooters should work.
The stages available in the preview build took different aspects. The first stage played like a vertical shooter, while the second stage switched over to horizontal. I thought this was pretty cool, and there were even some brief Star Fox / Panzer Dragoon styled bonus sections. You have three unique weapons, called “Bits,” that accomplish different tasks. Holding the X button unleashes your “Lock-On” shot, which is two lasers in a straight line. However holding X will also automatically lock on to nearby targets and launch a barrage of homing missles at your target. This is incredibly useful during boss fights when you can’t get a straight shot at them, or when a bunch of enemies appear one at a time.
Spamming the A button switches to the “Gatling” shot. This shot launches a ridiculous array of bullets in a narrowish straight line. This deals a ton of damage and is great for single target damage. Holding the A button will charge up the “Gatling: Pierce” attach which is a very strong single-shot that deals a ton of damage, but it has to be accurate. Finally we have the B button, which when spammed utilizes the “Winder” shot, which is a spread shot that basically covers the whole screen with bullets. The angle at which the shots are fired can be manually adjusted to suit your needs, and this weapons is pretty great when you need to clear a screen with a bunch of weaker enemies. Holding this shot will charge your “Winder: Radiate” ability, which basically puts a big shield around you that soaks up bullets and deals moderate damage to enemy ships caught in the bubble.
The game plays well and it looks great. They did a great job with the graphics and they did a great job making sure the specs weren’t too demanding so they could increase their install base. Having a relatively beefy PC, I never dropped below 60 Frames Per Second and showed no signs of even getting close to 58 FPS. It seems to be locked at 60 FPS maximum at time of writing, but my point is that the game runs really smooth and is coded well.
The sound effects are alright. You’re aware that things are blowing up, guns are shooting, etc. The music is alright too. Overall that is how this preview build feels. It just feels alright. There isn’t much that really blows me away about it. The music is pretty generic, though fitting and pleasant. The story is almost non-existant unless you look in the manual. However I don’t think shmups are necessarily about their story; they’re about blowing shit up real good. EV:R definitely delivers on that front, and its difficulty may appeal to more hardcore shmup fans. It will be interesting to see how the full game turns out, as it definitely has the potential to be great. It’s polished and challenging, and the reported $8 digital download price is definitely reasonable. Make sure to keep an eye out for it this June the 29th!