Retrospective: Recca for the Famicom (NES)
By TideGear (Adam Milecki)
We share a kinship in our love for what others consider obsolete. When treated properly, retro things don't age like people do. A good record can always make you want to dance or sing along. A good game will always be fun. We have respect for our "aged" hardware. We love to find where our favorite old things shine. There are some records that somehow sound best on an old player. There are some games that push the hardware of a game system farther than it was ever meant to go. Recca (aka Summer Carnival '92 - Recca) for the Famicom (NES) is one of those games.
Recca (more accurately "Rekka") is Japanese for raging/blazing fire. The title is quite appropriate given how hard this shmup pushes the Famicom (known as the NES outside Japan). This game is legendary among shmup fans for its intense action and staggering speed. It's a shame it was never released outside of Japan. The amount of sprites on screen at one time, all capable of moving at a stunning pace, easily boggles the minds of those even remotely familiar with the capabilities of NES hardware. There's minimal slowdown, and when it happens you're usually somewhat thankful for the tiny break in speed. Just when you think the system can't handle any more, the sound effects and pulsing electronic rock soundtrack just push that envelope even further.
Ok, so it's pretty, it's fast, it sounds good, it's a total audiovisual experience. How does it play?
(Screenshots can't do this game justice!)
Naxat Soft created this game for release during a gaming competition known as Summer Carnival back in 1992. Competitive gamers need a solid and challenging game. Recca is extremely challenging and it's definitely solid, which is remarkable given the potential to break gameplay when pushing a system's hardware. It doesn't end there. Recca could easily leave it at that, a pretty game that plays well, but it kicks up another notch with tons of enemies, huge bosses, varied levels, great power-ups, satellite-like options and a devastating infinite-use bomb that needs charging by not firing your main gun. When charging or firing, the bomb can even cancel certain enemy bullets!
It just keeps going! There's hidden modes unlockable via button press codes (or by using a ROM hack called Recca - Pure) that are challenging and change up the gameplay. All of these factors combined make Recca not only one of the most impressive games on the NES hardware-wise, but one of the best and most replayable shmup games on any system, period.
All of this in under 256 KB of code running on a modest little Famicom. It's enough to make a true geek tear up, a little bit, with joy. It's ok. I won't tell.