Syder Arcade's unique gameplay makes it a worthwhile buy for fans of old-school, spaceship-themed side-scrolling shooters.
If you're a fan of retro spaceship shooters like R-Type, then Syder Arcade should definitely pique your interest. It offers up much of that same side-scrolling, laser-dodging action, but also throws in a multidirectional twist. The graphics are impressive, and even with dozens of ships engaged in battle onscreen, the game didn't slow down.
Syder Arcade has two different game modes: Campaign and Survival. Campaign is the primary game mode with a storyline and narrative cut scenes. It has six different levels, and even in the easiest game mode, they can be very difficult. So, even if you consider yourself adept at these types of shooters, don't expect Syder to be a walk in the park. Meanwhile, Survival mode plops you in the middle of enemy onslaughts and asks you to simply stay alive for as long as you can. The concept of this mode is pretty straightforward.
When you start your game, you get to choose from three different starships, each having its own unique set of weapons and attributes. It's always nice when games like this offer a choice of vehicle, but I found Syder's three-ship selection to be underwhelming. It would be nice if the game offered unlockable ships or perhaps upgradable attributes, but it doesn't.
When it comes to actual gameplay, Syder is impressive. The controls are smooth, and the addition of subtle gravitational pulls against your ship adds an element of realism (not that I know what it feels like to steer a real starship). The virtual directional pad on the left is adequately sensitive and the Special Weapon and Flip buttons are comfortably placed.
Some dedicated fans of side-scrolling shooters might be wondering what a Flip button is for. Well, that is the unique thing about Syder. The game actually scrolls both to the left and the right. This makes the game significantly more difficult, since enemies are swooping in and firing from all sides. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. In fact, I enjoy the unique challenge that this multidirectional gameplay offers. Your starship automatically fires continuously, so it's your job to simply point your ship at the baddies and evade their fire, no matter what direction they're coming from.
As you kill more enemies in Syder, you earn more points. And as you earn more points, your Special Weapon meter rises. Once you fill this meter up to a certain threshold, you'll be able to unleash a powerful attack that is unique to your particular starship. For instance, one of the ships' special weapon is a Gravity Well, while another's is a Hyper Beam.
Also scattered throughout the game are minor power-ups for your regular gun. This is where I think Syder has the most room for improvement. Everyone loves building up their weapons in these sorts of games, but unfortunately, Syder's available upgrades are few and often insignificant. Perhaps in future installations, we'll see some of the screen-shaking cannons and bright laser beams that these graphics deserve.
Overall, Syder Arcade is a fun and incredibly smooth game that should be a worthwhile buy for fans of old-school, spaceship-themed sideways shooters. Its multidirectional gameplay is notable and its controls are impressive. The biggest thing it needs is a wider assortment of upgrades and vehicles.