Ray’z Arcade Chronology (Switch)

Ray’z Arcade Chronology is the latest compilation title from the team at ININ Games once again geared for those of you who enjoy the Shmup genre, as with previous titles by this team it has a rather confusing release schedule and what comes with what version, Ray’z Arcade Chronology is the version we have been sent to cover and is the one available on the Nintendo E-Shop. 

Ray’z Arcade Chronology gives eager shmuppers access to three fantastic shoot ‘em up titles in the “Ray” series, RayForce, RayStorm and Raycrisis, an iconic shmup franchise from Taito spanning nearly 10 years across the 3 mentioned titles and a 4th that was cancelled called R-Gear. 

Eager eyed fans of the genre will know we have already touched upon this series before when we reviewed the fantastic Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute (http://www.otakugamers.uk/2022/06/28/layer-section-galactic-attack-s-tribute-switch/) adding to further confusion about this game series, while I’m not 100% on the history RayForce is Layer Section & Galactic Attack just under a different name, possibly it’s arcade title as the latter two names come from the Sega Saturn release of the game. 

Confusion aside, what this title offers is the above 3 titles mentioned and 2 “HD” versions of the latter two, lovingly brought to gamers by the fantastic M2 who have handled more than their fair share of Shmup ports and bring a smile to my face anytime I hear they are handling a re-release. 

The “Ray” series as a whole have a unique feature in the Dual Layer style of gameplay, much like titles such as Twin Bee, there are 2 layers where you can attack or be attacked from, the sky or below you, it’s a juggling act to take down the foes infront of you while also thinning the herd from below you, pun aside it adds another layer of strategy to the genre and is something we don’t really see enough of outside of the Ray series or the Twin Bee series, both sadly haven’t seen a “new” title in far too long. 

I won’t spend much time talking about RayForce as i’ve already linked my review of Layer Section earlier in the review, all you need to know is it’s one of the best Shmups ever created earning a 4* from myself and this is it’s arcade version lovingly ported by M2, differences between this and the Saturn version are minimal and I highly suggest anyone wanting to know why the genre has such a cult-like fandom such try this title out, either in this compilation or the Layer Section re-release.

Raystorm follows up Rayforce by a couple of years and introduces the series to 3D polygon graphics, something you can have in their gritty original form or a HD version selectable from the main menu. 

Raystorm is very much just the next step for the Ray series and introduces new features such as additional ships to play as and a screen clearing bomb, to go alongside the snazzy new 3D graphics, the game originally released in arcades and on the Playstation 1 and is a title I remember nearly wearing a Demo Disc out playing so playing this gave me a massive nostalgia attack. 

Nostalgia induced excitement aside while Raystorm is still an absolutely brilliant Shmup, it doesn’t quite reach the levels of Rayforce in terms of pure polish, spectacle and just how damn good it is to play. On it’s own Raystorm is a quality title but compared to Rayforce it just doesn’t manage to stack up. 

RayCrisis closes the package out again with a standard or a HD version if you really want those polygons to fly from this 1998 release which also saw release on the Playstation 1 under the title RayCrisis: Series Termination, a sadly apt name for the game. 

Another thing that is sad is that much like Raystorm, it’s actually worse than the game that came before it but to a degree that aside from compilation and curiosity sake, I wouldn’t really suggest anyone plays this one, it has some funky “Simulation inside of a computer” story and just doesn’t really have that fun factor that the previous two had. 

It does have a lot of content to chip away at with over 40 stages and multiple endings but I can’t quite put my finger on why this title doesn’t quite match the previous two I guess it’s just one of those things where the series started out so strong it would be incredibly difficult to keep that momentum going. 

M2 have done an amazing job as per porting the games over with minimal lag, it’s worth noting that these are all the Arcade versions of the games and not the console versions so they are the most “arcade perfect” releases you can get. There are achievements for every game as well as some cool border art making it look like you’re getting real time stats as you pilot your ship through the 3 games. 

You have tweakable options such as lives and continues as well as Quick Save and Quick Load and of course online leaderboards for all you eager Scoreboard chasers, the lack of museum is quite a let down as I would have loved to dive into some concept art and the like but overall 3 arcade perfect ports with 2 HD enhanced versions in one package is quite the enticing offer.

If you love Shmups chances are you’ve at least heard of this series and with good reason, even at its absolute worst the games are still insanely playable and addictive, it may be less essential if you already own the S-Tribute version of Layer Section but overall M2 and ININ Games have knocked it out of the park with this fantastic re-release package.



A must buy for any fans of the genre, despite the lack of consistency in quality

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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.

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