Ordyne Review

Ordyne is an unremarkable shoot-'em-up that pales in comparison to all of the other shooters that are available on the Virtual Console.

Ordyne is a horizontally scrolling space shoot-'em-up that was largely ignored--first when it made the rounds in arcades in the late 1980s and again when Namco produced a watered-down port of it for the TurboGrafx-16 console in 1989. Nearly 20 years later, that TurboGrafx-16 version of Ordyne is now available for purchase from the Wii Virtual Console, and unless the world has gone topsy-turvy, it isn't going to garner much attention this time around either. The game is a boring Gradius knockoff clad in cute graphics, in which the screen automatically scrolls by while one or two players shoot unremarkable weapons at unremarkable enemy ships and try to avoid bullets and obstacles.

Crummy animations and a lack of detail make the graphics look crude instead of cute.
Crummy animations and a lack of detail make the graphics look crude instead of cute.

Each of the game's seven stages follows the same bland layout. You'll fight successive waves of small enemies and dodge space junk for a minute or two, and then you'll face off against a boss. Most enemies absorb a few shots before they explode. The first few stages are easy, since there aren't many enemy ships or bullets flying around, but later levels take a brute force approach to draining your stock of lives by keeping the screen full of bullets. For your part, you get four ships and four continues, and you lose a ship each time you get hit by a bullet or crash into something. Your main weapons are a standard bullet that travels forward and a bomb shot that falls in an arc. You can't upgrade your weapons' power levels, but you can acquire new weapons, such as spread guns and napalm bursts, from the floating shops that periodically appear. Unfortunately, they're expensive, and they run out after about 10 seconds, which means your experiences with lavish weapons will be infrequent and short-lived. It's almost as if the developers intentionally set out to make a dull game. Even in later levels when you're constantly dodging bullets, you'll still be seeing the same enemy patterns and using the same two weapons from the beginning of the game. The bosses at the end of each level are mildly interesting, but only because they can absorb a ton of firepower and occupy a significant portion of the screen with their large size and multiple weapon volleys.

It doesn't help that the graphics and audio are downright weak. The cheery backgrounds, balloon animals, and goofy mechanical contraptions are supposed to be cute, but the choppy animations and lack of detail make everything look crude instead. In the original arcade game, multiple background layers brought the clouds and planetary surfaces in the background to life, and you'd often have to maneuver through large rotating structures made of flames or interconnected segments. In this version, the backgrounds are plain tunnel strips, and there's rarely anything moving in them apart from the enemies and their firepower. The rotating structures from the arcade game have been replaced by clusters of nondescript spheres and cubes that serve the same purpose but don't look remotely as impressive. Every shot and explosion in the game is accompanied by an ear-piercing "plink" sound effect, which you'll recognize if you've played Xevious, the shooter that helped put Namco on the map. While that nod to the company's roots may be good-natured, recycling sound effects from a game produced in 1982 seems cheap, especially when most games for the TG-16 employ effects of much better quality.

Nobody cared about Ordyne when it was originally released, and there's absolutely no reason you should care about it now. There are already numerous shoot-'em-ups available on the Virtual Console, and they're all better than Ordyne.

  • View Comments (0)
    The Good
    Cute visual style is a nice change of pace from typically high-tech shooters
    Last couple of stages are mildly challenging
    The Bad
    Shooting the same enemies with the same crummy weapons gets old quick
    Graphics don't reflect what the TG-16 is capable of
    It's insane that all of the sound effects were recycled from Xevious
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    Ordyne More Info

  • First Released 1990
    • Arcade Games
    • TurboGrafx-16
    Average Rating23 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Bandai Namco Games, Namco, Namco Bandai Games, Nintendo, NEC
    Action, 2D, Shoot-'Em-Up
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Mild Cartoon Violence