Psyvariar is a vertical scrolling shoot 'em up (or shmup as they're sometimes known) made by Success for Taito's G-Net arcade board in 1999. This was followed by Psyvariar Revision in 2000 - a revised edition with slightly enhanced graphics and tuned gameplay.

Psyvariar follows the same style as most modern shooters with a bright colour palette, lots of slow moving bullets, and a small hit box on your craft. The hook of Psyvariar though is the buzz system. Buzz is the means by which you power up your ship, and you get buzz by dodging close to enemy bullets. During the game, the player must strike a balance between killing enemies and leaving them to shoot at you (more bullets on screen = more potential buzz). This can lead to hairy situations where you realise that you've left too many enemies on screen in your quest for buzz. The buzz system has drawn comparisons to Crazy Taxi's Crazy Throughs, and Burnout's boost system. The player has the option of a second weapon which increases the power of your shot and expands your buzz catchment area, but halves your speed. Finally, there's the obligatory smart bomb.

The game has a tree structure to the level system. Harder levels can be unlocked depending on how big a buzz chain the player has achieved in the previous level. These give the player the option of bigger buzz chains as the harder levels generally have more enemies and therefore more bullets to buzz off.

People who don't have access to the arcade board can buy a copy of the 2002 Playstation 2 port. This was released by Taito in Japan in three versions:

  • Psyvariar: Complete Edition - containing both Medium Unit (original) and Revision
  • Psyvariar: Complete Edition (Special Sound Box) - containing Complete Edition and a soundtrack CD
  • Psyvariar: Complete Edition (Special Capture Box) - containing Complete Edition and a DVD with a run through of the game by an experienced player

More recently (September 2003), the game had an entirely unexpected European release on a budget label courtesy of Xplosiv.

In 2003, Success released Psyvariar 2 for Sega's Naomi board. I'm yet to play this, so I'll refrain from commenting on it other than to say that a Dreamcast port has been announced and will be released in Japan on the 26th February 2004. Due to the total lack of Dreamcast support in Europe and the US I suspect that we won't see a western release.

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