Release Date: July 18, 2002
Developer: Planet Interactive Development
Director: Julien Cartier
Stop, drop and shoot!
This is a game I picked up after previewing a Youtube video titled where the author talked about cheesing boss fights to win. It looked fun enough, so I bought it. And yes, the bosses at the end of levels are the prime excitement to look forward to.
VIP is a game that plays similar to the Rolling Thunder games. Those are gentlemen shooter games where your character powerfully walks forward and stands still to shoot. Slow deliberate movements on the course of a straight line. An additional taken mechanic from those games is the ability to do a high jump up to a second story floor, a movement that locks your upward trajectory into a linear straight up motion.
Initially the game’s stages are pretty breezy on the difficulty. The stage 1 music has a really nice wavey summer sound. The game has a pleasant colorful art style. Pickups have an appealing one color outline to them and make a videogame sfx when touched. Pam Anderson’s character has a sexy allure (not her face in close up cutscenes though). She has her trademark large chest and she runs in tilted diagonal manner, which looks very feminine and gravity-defying as if held up by a strong wind. When she falls her blonde hair goes shooting straight up.
Action frequently forces the player to switch up from being cautious to daring (i.e. when grabbing a ‘POW’ powerUP). Lots of ducking. Lots of shooting ahead of your character and scrolling with your bullet leading the way! Burly grunts run with their bodies tilting over forward, which is pretty funny to see. Unlike the Rolling Thunder games you switch off at intervals between different characters. Character switching off is well done with each character having their own unique weaponry, specials, and particular quirks/attributes (e.g. Quick having a shotgun but being susceptible to gun fire as he shoots when crouched) — all of this kind-of stuff makes you mindful of each character you’re using, which makes you play differently.
Each of these following 3 moments I had in the game are the highlights of my experience playing VIP and should be implemented in other games: (i) Being able to run past bullets that would otherwise hit your standing character’s upper body by simply holding left or right on the D-pad with a certain character. A cool action that felt like an upgrade to the ‘SenseMove’ from Metroid: Other M by allowing you to keep your momentum going; (ii) Getting into a shoot-out with someone crouched behind a box and ending it by jumping on his crate and firing the shotgun with the bottom part of its Contra-like spreadshot hitting the enemy in their covered stance. The shotgun blast sfx is satisfyingly loud booming out of the GBA’s speaker; (iii) Jumping over a shotgun blast and landing behind the goon to purse-thwack one hit KO him whereupon he lets out a classic videogame grunt before falling over and vanishing.
Bosses are really fun to fight given the way you knockoff their HP bar units. You figure out whether to exploit the strength of your character’s position on the level’s structures (e.g. near-off screen sharp shooting, getting into a close hard-to-hit bunker-type position to trade fire essentially trading bullets rather than punches, or meleeing it out). Frequently, boss fights turn into a slugfest of sorts where your character gets in the last hit at one unit of health (7 hit points). I enjoyed looking at boss strategies other people came up with after I beat the game.
Beating the final level is an accomplishment. Each of the 3 moments mentioned above were discovered by questioning if I could actually perform such an action on-the-spot. The game’s more lightened tone from the Rolling Thunder games allowed for this type of absurd fun.
GAME COMPARISON LIST
More fun than Metal Slug Advance.
Of interest is how the diagonal shooting feels just as awkwardly implemented as it was in Rolling Thunder 3. It’s deliberately useless here as the bullets don’t hit enemies on second floor stories. However, despite all that it finds itself perfectly employed at the end of the game.