[VR Review] The Only Good Virtual Boy Games, Part 10: Red Alarm

This is one of my favorite Virtual Boy titles, it’s criminally underrated. I actually didn’t like it much until I mastered the controls. The two most important skills to master are hard turning (using the left trigger) and strafing (using the right d-pad).

The Virtual Boy hardware wasn’t really up to the task of polygonal 3D games. Red Alarm is about the closest it ever came, rendering the game in wireframe at a just barely acceptable framerate. The fact that it’s all wireframe, and all red, would make it difficult to tell what you’re looking at in some places if not for the depth perception.

You might expect it to play like Star Fox. But while the levels are linear, your movement is not on rails. You can turn around and go backwards if you want, and boss stages are non-linear arena type rooms that require a lot of maneuvering. This is where hard turn comes in handy. Strafing will be absolutely necessary to avoid enemy fire.

All told it feels like a 3D adaptation of classic horizontal shooters like Gradius and R-Type. Once you figure out how to play it properly, it’s great fun and a testament to what was technically possible on the Virtual Boy hardware. I give it a 9/10.

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