Sora Orange_Juice / Rockin' Android, ΩTH 2010

This mixes the fast-paced action of a 3D dash brawler like Zone of the Enders 2 with the tighter controls, greater situational awareness, and much greater danger level of a 2D shmup. Sora is the 3rd game in the Suguri line. It's a prequel, taking place at the end of the war that left the Earth in ruins. It is a refinement and improvement over the original Suguri in every way. The most noticeable improvement Sora brings to the table is the graphics. Gone are the fuzzy flame-spitting tinker-toy enemies replaced by dark and crisply-drawn combat robots with glowmaps that look like they’re made to fight. Energy attacks are now drawn in sexy bloomy bolts that look even more striking against ubiquitous dark clouds in the background. While Sora and the enemy cyborgs are still look like teenagers, they're no longer throwing exploding maracas or showing up to a warzone in a baby-T and jeans. In fact, one of the bosses is downright creepy as her arms were amputated and replaced with interfaces for her giant robot suit. Cloudphobia is still safe in its place as the prettiest indie shmup on the PC, but Sora is definitely a treat for the eyes. Gameplay-wise, Orange Juice has learned from its experience in the multiplayer arena. Overpowered weapons have been toned down (eg. Spread shot) while useless weapons have been pumped up (the Bazooka is now devastating). Like in AoS, the sword is now a mainstay weapon, with the awkward 2-button approach replaced by a single button. Dash attacks now build up way more heat than Suguri, increasing the price of abusing them. Level design has improved greatly. Popcorn enemies no longer fire a single volley and disappear if you can’t get them fast enough; they’re perfectly happy to hang around and pepper you with fire until you take them down. Bad stage ideas like the twisty corridor have been scrapped while good stage ideas like the battleships have been expanded. AND! the damage chain gauge pauses between enemy waves, making it completely possible to boost your score by chaining the entire stage. It's even the first game in the series where you can change the awkward keyboard arrangement (however clumsily) by plugging Virtual Key Codes into the external_option file. It unlocks additional weapons based on total gameplay time. An English version was released in 2012.
Japanese Full Demo 340MB (uploaded by scaryfun)
Trial Level Demo 80MB (uploaded by Sk8Tokyo)

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