During the last several years or so, gamers have seen a huge surge of ‘retro’ style games re-released for the PC. Many of the games that are on these compilations are true classics. But many, however, just aren’t that much fun to play with anymore. Hence, it was with some trepidation that I started to check out the enhanced versions of two highly acclaimed shooters, Vasara and Vasara 2.

Well, after playing a few levels, I can assure you that there’s nothing to worry about. Despite the fact that the game is about twenty years old (Vasara and Vasara 2 came out roughly around 2000), the gameplay is pure and still stands out as some of the best shooting action money can buy.

Both games in the compilation have negligible storylines that harken back to feudal Japan where warring factions fight for domination.  Who would have thought that around the 1600s, Japan would have flying motorcycles duking it out in mid-air? I always knew Japan was an advanced nation, but I didn’t know they were this advanced!

Once you get past the backstory, the game plays out similar to other shooters. One feature that makes Vasara stand out is the ability to hold down one button to overcharge your attacks.  That ability, combined with some unique powerups combine for quite a bit of technique and fast reflexes to survive. And boy, you’re going to need it! Because the game plays harder than the last question of Final Jeopardy!

The levels, which are all intricately detailed, are breathtaking to look at. The lighting and vibrant colors make the on-screen action stand out. Some of the sprites, however, look bland by comparison, especially when you compare it to the luscious background. Still, for a game that’s almost two decades old, it still looks and plays really well. Even with so much action going on, the game moves about at a crisp pace without any slowdown whatsoever.

The bosses are all unique and offer serious challenges even to the most experienced SHMUP player. But all the bosses have an Achilles heel and can be defeated by those who can discover and exploit this weakness.

Overall, the Vasara Collection represents two of the most influential shooters of all time. The action is intense, the graphics are beautiful, and the sound mimics the gameplay perfectly. If you’re a shooter fan, go and buy this and add it to your collection. You won’t be disappointed.

– Intense gameplay
– Lots of continues
– Colorful and vibrant graphics
– Four-player co-op is fierce


– Insane difficulty
– Steep learning curve
– Can’t reassign keys if playing with KB/M combo

Vasara Collection lives up to the hype and stands the test of time.