by Mountain King Studios
Review by Ron Brown, Jr.
From the website: Juno Remix is a 3D shooter in the style of Tempest and Gyruss with modern 3D graphics. Set inside the cyberspace of a huge and powerful computer called Juno, the player must defend the machine from a program designed to destroy the system. Six levels or constructs must be saved by destroying 30 waves of the attacking bugs.
Requirements: 400mhz cpu, Windows
95, 98, ME, 2000, XP : DirectX 8, 128 megs ram
With a familiar control scheme and plenty of action, Juno Nemesis Remix is a “tunnel shooter” in the spirit of the arcade classics Tempest and Gyruss. Full 3D graphics, a techno soundtrack, and plenty of powerups and bonuses would make this game a fantastic addition to anyone’s arcade cabinet, if it weren’t for one seemingly minor flaw.
Note: For brevity’s sake, Juno Nemesis Remix will be simply referred to as “Juno” throughout the rest of this review.
For those unfamiliar with the tunnel shooter style of gameplay, the concept is fairly similar to standard top-down or side-scrolling shooters, however the player’s ship is facing down a long 3D tunnel. Opponents are at the far side of the tunnel, and fire/move/fly/crawl towards the player’s ship. The object is simple: blast them before they blast you. Juno’s levels are fairly standard shooter faire — the player must face five waves of enemies, and then defeat a “boss” at the end of each of the game’s six levels.
One interesting way that Juno improves on the typical shooter formula is the ship’s shield system. Your shields will protect you from enemy fire, though colliding with enemies is certain destruction. Holding down the FIRE button will result in the ship’s weapons blasting away in rapid-fire mode, easily destroying anything in the ship’s path. However, each shot from the ship’s weapons systems drain its shields, leaving the ship vulnerable. This adds a nice dynamic to the typical strategy of pounding on the fire button as quickly as possible.
When you destroy enemies, they will often drop a “crystal” that, when collected, will cause a powerup to enter the playfield (this seems to happen about 50% of the time).
Powerups may increase your ship’s firepower, or restore your shields. Given the frequency the appearance of crystals, powering up your ship is not difficult at all. When your ship’s firepower reaches a maximum level, any subsequent firepower upgrades will trigger an OVERLOAD attack, which sends powerful blasts down the tunnel, destroying any enemies in its path.
The gameplay is simple enough to make Juno easy to pick up. The difficulty level seemed to be slightly on the easy side – after a few sessions, any gamer, new- or old-school, should be able to breeze through the game’s six levels.
To add replay value to the main “quest” — there are 6 unlockable bonus games and 18 unlockable cheats that may be turned on or off at the start of a game. Cheats range from “Full Weapons” and “Unlimited Shields” to “Large Enemies” or “Fireworks Mode”. These unlockables definitely make playing through the game multiple times worthwhile.
Graphics and Sound
A light techno soundtrack and colorful futuristic graphics make Juno fun to watch and listen to, and don’t seem to get in the way of the action. In particular, the explosion when the player’s ship is destroyed is certainly effective; it almost makes crashing into enemies a bit more enjoyable.
The volume for music and sound effects can be adjusted separately, however there are no options for video settings. Aside from a resolution adjustment, a brightness setting would have been appreciated.
Setup and Controls
Anyone who is familiar with Juno’s spiritual predecessors will feel right at home with the game’s controls. In fact, the game provides two separate control schemes tailored to fit your preferred style of play. “Classic” is a two-directional control scheme in the style of Tempest – moving to the “left” will move your ship clockwise around the tunnel, while moving to the “right” will move your ship counter-clockwise. “Standard” is a four-directional control scheme in the style of Gyruss – moving up, down, left, or right will move your ship to that respective side of the tunnel.
Juno may be configured to use the keyboard, mouse, or joystick/gamepad; however, the specific controls are not customizable. While I personally prefer the “Standard” set of controls, I could easily see that using the “Classic” setup would be a great deal of fun with a spinner control.
For cabinet owners, the good news is that the keyboard configuration is identical to the default MAME keyboard layout – Arrow Keys, CTRL, and ALT. ESC will also back out of menus and even exit the game.
The bad news is that the menu system will prevent many (myself included) from including this game on their arcade cabinets, as the ONLY way to navigate the menus in this game is to use a mouse! I suppose this isn’t an issue for those who have a trackball or can easily access a mouse on their cabinet, but as my cabinet is joystick-only, I was greatly disappointed to discover this show-stopping flaw. Hopefully this will be corrected in a later version.
Juno Nemesis Remix is a fun, easy-to-play shooter that would be a great addition to anyone’s arcade cabinet, or a great change of pace for PC gamers looking for a shooter game in the classic style.
Were it not for the crippling menu interface, it would have been heartily recommended. Sadly, unless your arcade cabinet has a trackball, you won’t be able to get past the main menu.