Insert Disk collects Arrow Flash for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Arrow Flash for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic is a now long forgotten Sega 16-bit exclusive shoot’em up. Expect action power ups and boss fights. The game allows you to switch between firing modes and unleash the deadly Arrow Flash attack. Overall a very solid game that just somehow became lost in the mix of 90’s shooters. For any fan of Japanese retro shooters though you won’t be disappointed by this game.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. It’s time to go back to the year 1990 today to take a look back at a now long forgotten shooter on the Sega Mega Drive. Join me today as I revisit the lost classic of Arrow Flash. You play as Zana Keene in the original, renamed Anna Schwinn in the European title. You’ve been gifted a prototype transformable fighter-mecha from your grandfather in order to fight an alien attack on humankind. So far so good. It’s a simple premise and the story doesn’t go too deep. The opening animations do a great job of getting you all the information you need whilst bookending the action of the main game.
Now, if you’ve followed the channel for a while you’ll know I have a bit of a soft spot for Japanese shoot ’em ups. Arrow Flash is one of those games I feel never really gets mentioned so I wanted to make sure I made an episode at some point. It’s perhaps not a hidden gem but it is at least a game that I feel more people would benefit from by discovering it. Being released in 1990 it simply got buried in the noise of the R-Types and Thunder Forces of the day. This was also a Sega 16-bit exclusive so the reach was initially to those with a Sega Mega Drive or Genesis near in the early days of its life cycle.
So, how does the game play. In truth, very well. It’s not going to make you rethink the genre but it will most certainly remind you how much you enjoy old school gaming. The only really clever mechanic is the ability to switch between 2 modes of ship configuration. Allowing you to sacrifice speed for rear shot. On top of this you can use a special attack known as the Arrow Flash to destroy larger enemies. The game is very fast flowing and a really good early example of the Mega Drives hardware. There are multiple sprites moving at anyone time, up to 10 layers of parallax scrolling and a responsive control system. Overall, a very tightly executed offering.
As with most games of this nature you start off with a fairly weak shot. It’s not long though before you add a drone, or two and then increased fire power and then even more fire power. It’s really pleasing to collect the power ups as you see an instant reward and you really feel like you’re progressing. Loose them though and the game can get incredibly challenging. There are also a mix of boss fights thrown in for good measure. Nothing outstanding but all provide a decent interlude between the main sections of action. If I have a criticism it would be this level here. The background effect is just crazy. It’s difficult to not feel dizzy as a spectator. Trust me, when you’re playing the level it’s positively sickening. This level aside though there are some really diverse scenes. Some requiring all out fire power. Others that ask the player to traverse carefully and with skill.
The UK PAL edition of Arrow Flash has some great presentation. The black boxes having survived well through the years and some decent cover art for the gamer to enjoy. With this being a reasonably early title for the Sega Mega Drive expect to pay a little more than your average shooter. In recent months I’ve seen these break the £40 barrier, around $30 is still achievable at the time of making this episode for the North American release.
So, is Arrow Flash worth collecting? If you’re in to your Japanese Sega shooters then Arrow Flash is a very decent offering. It’s fast, appealing and has some great replay value. For the price there are perhaps better options out there but for the collector looking to round out a collection or the gamer looking for a more obscure title Arrow Flash still has a lot to offer.