Bulk Slash

Developed in Japan by CAProduction
Published by Hudson
Released in 1997 for the Sega Saturn

A spiritual successor to the many sci-fi shmups that Hudson pumped out for the PC-Engine in the early nineties, Bulk Slash is a blisteringly fast and intense mecha action game that pushes the Saturn’s 3D capabilities to incredible limits.  Unlike other 3D-intensive games on the platform, it does not suffer from framerate issues or environmental pop-ins. The scale on which missions take place is amazing for a 32-bit game, made all the more tangible by your robot’s ability to instantly transform from walking to flight mode to adapt to the situation. The variety of stages is equally impressive, including possibly the only enjoyable escort mission in a game ever, a tense excursion to a mine-ridden asteroid field, and a couple of claustrophobic indoor mazes that force you into walking mode. Bosses are keenly animated polygonal monstrosities zooming across the screen while peppering the skies with missile and laser barrages, worthy of a high-quality anime, and are the highlights of every stage. Unfortunately, it’s also inherited the low difficulty level of Hudson’s PC-Engine shmups, thanks to your long lifebar and the abundance of healing items. Thankfully, this does not greatly undermine what an amazing experience the game is, and one that remains nearly as fresh on repeated playthroughs.

★★★★