🎮 INFINOS Series
Written by Daikon2023年 9月 22日
Things have changed quite a bit since then, but when I was growing up, kids who were good at games were the superstars of their schools. They were like heroes who cleared difficult action games countless times, and were deeply knowledgeable about RPGs. And in particular, those who were good at shooting games far outshone the rest. Games like Gradius, R-Type, 1942, all those classics that drank in coins at the arcade.
Nowadays, those kinds of shooting games are no longer popular in the mainstream. But some players never forgot the brilliance of those shooting games, nor the super players who could clear them on one credit. I think because of that burning passion, the shooting game genre has continued to grow and thrive in the form of indie and especially doujin games.
When I came across the INFINOS series, that nostalgic feeling returned to me. I remembered the days when I would gather with my friends at the arcade or around a Famicom. Even though I was never any good, I still yearned to someday become a super player.
The series started in 2013 with the original INFINOS, a horizontal shooting game in space. This was followed by INFINOS EXTRA STAGE and INFINOS ZERO which build on the original. There was a sequel, INFINOS 2, followed by INFINOS GAIDEN on Steam, both of which expand the story and lore of the INFINOS universe. All of these games were made by RYO of the two-person team of brothers, Picorinne Soft.
The INFINOS games tell the story of a planet threatened by an alien invasion, and the group of outnumbered survivors who fight back by putting all their remaining technology into a single machine: your ship. You pilot the last hope of these desperate rebels and do fantastic battle in outer space, in enemy bases, and through the uncharted depths of alien worlds.
The most distinctive feature of this series is the ability to switch attack styles depending on the pickups you grab. For battles in the vastness of space, you will want a straight shot that cuts through enemies in front of you. Vertical shots are a safe and effective way to engage with ground units when infiltrating enemy bases, and lasers are useful when destroying large equipment. You'll need to regularly switch up your style as the situation demands. Rather than upgrading and equipping your shot, you'll need to be on the lookout for item drops that switch your weapon. This is likely the best that the INFINOS resistance can do as they fight with dwindling resources.
In actual play, the weapon switching system is extremely comfortable. Weapon drops are generous, and often, rather conveniently, the appropriate type to handle your next encounter. Of course, you'll need to weave around enemy fire to grab those pickups before they fall offscreen, so it won't be easy. But being able to change out your weapon without worrying about different control schemes means you can concentrate entirely on the screen.
Probably the most well-known of the series is INFINOS GAIDEN. The distinctive weapon pickup system is the same, but the setting is no longer limited to the vacuum of space. Beautiful alien worlds and deadly terrains await you here. Along with the intense new backgrounds are new enemies and bosses, rendered in gorgeous pixel art, waiting to challenge the player. Taking down these enemies in tense firefights can make you feel as if you're turning the pages of a comic with great anticipation as you get pulled further into the world of INFINOS.
Originally, the INFINOS games used retro chiptunes that were a throwback to the classics like the original Gradius. But in GAIDEN, the strong soundtrack by composer Hyakutaro Tsukumo adds an urgent layer of intensity that goes along with the many explosions and effects. The pixel art is also detailed and beautiful while still retaining that classic arcade look.
The INFINOS series is not the only shooting games put out by Picorinne Soft. In contrast to the horizontal shooters of INFINOS, there is the vertical shooter Battle Crust. It too uses the weapon-swapping system of INFINOS, but also has players make use of charge shots to break through tough enemy defenses. While charging, the player can use the built-up energy as a shield to take out smaller projectiles and enemies at close range. This adds a whole new layer of strategy as players make snap decisions when to charge their shot and possibly open themselves up to attack.
Although Battle Crust has many of the hallmarks that INFINOS fans have come to expect from a Picorinne Soft game, it also feels vastly different. I think it's quite interesting to compare these games made by the same creators and find how their style can shift and change.
I would be remiss not to mention Andro Dunos II. The original Andro Dunos came out in 1992 and was developed by Visco Corporation. Visco then licensed their IP to Picorinne Soft to create the sequel, which released in 2022. Despite the name and licensing, this is an INFINOS game in all but name. This becomes obvious once you start playing and find a Greatest Hits compilation of all the best parts of Picorinne Soft's other shooting games.
You have the weapon-swapping system of INFINOS, but instead of relying on drops, players can actively switch between their weapons with the shoulder buttons at any time. The familiar item pickups from previous games act as experience to level up your weapons, giving you even more powerful shots with different attack arrays. There is also the heavy charge attack from Battle Crust to punch through enemy defenses, though at a cost of putting that weapon on a cooldown. These systems have the player cycling through all the different weapons rather than sticking with only one. It is a great game that combines the charm and fun of their previous works, and is sure to attract many new players to the worlds of Andro Dunos and, hopefully, INFINOS.
If you follow Japanese indie or doujin games, you have almost definitely come across your fair share of shooting games. It should go without saying that this is a beloved genre that many player associate with their childhood memories of playing with friends. Just because you have become an adult does not mean that you've missed your chance to become a super player. If you want a chance to shine with a cool shooting game, why not give the INFINOS series a try?