Co-Optimus - Review - Ray'z Arcade Chronology Co-op Review

Ray’z Arcade Chronology

  • Couch Co-Op: 2 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign

Ray'z Arcade Chronology Co-op Review - Page 2


RayStorm Neo HD - Ray'z Arcade Chronology - PlayStation

1996’s RayStorm originally appeared on Taito’s FX-1B arcade hardware. After being ported to PSOne and Sega Saturn, it would later be released as RayStorm HD on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2010. RayStorm Neo HD, the enhanced version of RayStorm included on Ray’z Arcade Chronology is NOT the full HD remake of the 360 era, unfortunately. This version’s “HD” option simply improves the ship and enemy models to a mild extent (as with G-Darius HD), whereas RayStorm HD for 360 fully remade and improved upon all of the visuals, including the backgrounds. It would have been great to get that version in this collection as well, but c'est la vie.

RayStorm Neo HD - Ray'z Arcade Chronology - PlayStation

The rudimentary polygonal graphics of 1996 don’t spoil RayStorm, however; they’re part of its charm. The move to fully 3D graphics allows the developers to render even more dynamic backgrounds that incorporate new camera angles and tricks. This is best exemplified in the fourth stage’s incredible space battle. The entire level takes place among a vast armada of ships, with the camera swooping and zooming around as the fight unfolds. The game is full of exciting scenarios like that, and the music is the best in the series.

RayStorm’s mechanical improvements start with the inclusion of two selectable ships. Each has a different primary weapon, and one can lock onto twice as many targets as the other. Players can also choose between manual and auto-firing of the lock-on lasers – a great option. Finally, the new SP meter allows players to unleash a screen-filling special attack when fully charged.


RayCrisis HD - Ray'z Arcade Chronology - PlayStation

Although RayCrisis arrived in 1998, it’s actually a prequel to RayForce. The original arcade game ran on Taito’s G-NET hardware and boasts improved visual fidelity over RayStorm. This is best exemplified by increased use of 3D perspective and new dramatic camera pans at the beginning of stages. On the collection, this one has an “HD” option with the same minor improvements to ships and enemies as described before. Speaking of ships, the selectable ships return, and a new, third ship can be unlocked via code (necessary for a Trophy in this collection).

This installment has an increased focus on story, with a fast-paced and confusing introduction and three different endings. Reaching those endings depends on the new “Encroachment” system. The game itself is only five stages long (shorter than previous entries), but the middle stages are randomized, creating a different experience every time. The speed at which players defeat enemies and bosses contributes to the overall encroachment rating at any given time. Depending on the encroachment rating, players will see a different ending. Managing your encroachment well enough to reach the true final boss and get the good ending isn’t easy, so RayCrisis is less mainstream-friendly than its forebears.


RayCrisis HD - Ray'z Arcade Chronology - PlayStation

Preserving classic games for future generations is important, so Ray’z Arcade Chronology is a necessary and welcome collection. It presents all three Ray games with excellent emulation and a fair number of options and minor enhancements. The only downside here is that some content from previous home releases is missing, resulting in a slightly incomplete presentation. The Xbox 360 version of RayForce HD is the biggest omission, but the extra modes from the PSOne and Saturn ports are absent as well. We don’t even get a boss rush here. ININ and M2’s G-Darius HD actually got updated with console content after launch a while back, so it’s possible that will happen with Ray’z Arcade Chronology as well. As it stands, this is a good collection, but a little high priced for what it contains.

Ray'z Arcade Chronology sells for $49.99 on PlayStation and Switch. Physical versions are available to preorder in limited supply at Strictly Limited Games.

A PlayStation download code was provided by the publisher for this review.


Co-Op Score

The Co-Op Experience: Players can team up on the couch in all three games.

Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.