Friday, 31 May 2013

Doujin Shmups #8

Ray-Hound (2007)
By: Hikware Software Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: PC First Day Score: 160,800
Also Available For: Nothing

As usual, the hi-res graphics don't like being resized...
Since beginning coverage of the immense ocean of fan-made games here at Red Parsley I've discovered some impressive but somewhat generic titles, but also a few creative, slightly more unusual efforts. The oddly-named Ray-Hound is definitely one that falls into the latter category. While technically a shmup, it also contains strategic and puzzley elements, and even features mandatory mouse controls! There are no intros or options or anything like that though - when you start the game you'll find yourself in control of a small rocket which starts the game in the middle of a circular 'arena' featuring a hexagonal honeycomb pattern and measuring approximately three screens in diameter. Somewhere within this arena are several gun turrets which automatically track your ship and fire lasers at it in a repeating pattern. The object on each of the many stages is simply to destroy all the gun turrets within the time limit. The only problem is, your ship has no weapons!

Three clusters of turrets mean many shots to avoid!
You may think that having a ship equipped with weapons or armaments of some sort would be a rather important aspect of a shoot 'em up, and I'd have agreed with you prior to playing this unusual game. The mouse moves your ship around the arena without restriction and, after a bit of messing around and getting smacked up by lasers, I eventually determined that the way to succeed here is to turn the enemy weapons against them. This is done by using the left mouse button which activates a short-range 'tractor field' of some sort. Any enemy lasers fired before the field is activated will be attracted towards it and orbit your ship for as long as you keep the button held down (or get hit by another shot). They'll disperse when you release the button but can be directed by using the same mouse control that moves your ship around. What this means is, you can send them back at their creators! It's a simple but ingenious idea, and what it equals is one of those games where progress is entirely dependent on your own skill rather than luck or performing complex special moves or anything like that.

Three laser shots... captured!
You can 'shunt' the turrets (i.e. move them slightly) by rushing them and your teeny ship is indestructible too - taking hits from the lasers simply deducts time from your meagre limit while finishing a stage early gives you bonus time for the next. The hi-res graphics feature nice glowy lasers and explosions but are otherwise the same on each stage, and there's no music at all - the only difference between the stages is an ever-increasing number of turrets in larger and more difficult formations, and things can get pretty hectic. The more of them there is, the more shots there is to look out for, but you can also catch more shots at once too. It's very satisfying to capture all the shots fired by a cluster of turrets and send them all straight back, blitzing the whole lot in one go! The controls take a bit of getting used to and it is a repetitive game, but it's also great fun and hugely addictive. It's a small download as well, so there's really not much of an excuse to not try it. Just don't come crying to me when you can't leave it alone!

RKS Score: 8/10


  1. Fascinating stuff, and a great write up as usual, Simon! Cool to see you branching out to review some indies.

  2. Cheers, there are millions of them out there of course, but I've started looking at a few of the ones that catch my eye. Ray Hound is very addictive too :P