Title: Warning Forever
Date Released: 30/12/03 (version 1.00)
Platforms: PC (win32 / DirectX)
Warning Forever is the logical conclusion of a certain genre of shmup. For quite some time now, a lot of shmups have been more about the boss than the normal enemies. A good example of this is Radiant Silvergun - the game has 40+ bosses and less than ten normal enemies. Warning Forever takes this logic one step further and comprises of only boss battles. The title of the game is a direct reference back to Radiant Silvergun's boss battles, which are preceded by three 'helpful' hints and a WARNING WARNING WARNING message.
Graphically, Warning Forever takes a different style to the majority of today's games with very extensive use of vectors, which harks back to the days of Tempest and the Vectrex system. A few sprites are used for shots and explosions, but the player's ship, the boss, and the background and information displays (such that they are) are all composed of vectors. This lends the game a very clinical and minimalist style. To explain more about the boss's graphics I will have to explain more about the gameplay.
Warning Forever has a unique (in my experience) gameplay concept. As with the graphics the creator (Hikoza T. Ohkubo) has stripped the gameplay back to the minimum necessary and reinvented it from the ground up. Traditional shmup stalwarts like lives, continues, and set levels are thrown out of the window. What is left is a points system and a timer. The player obviously can die and this removes 20 seconds from the clock (which is constantly counting down). Defeating a boss adds 30 seconds. Points are allocated out for combos and for killing the boss as quickly as possible. The player is limited to one weapon (a slightly spread fire) but this can be used in two ways. The first way is a standard front shot, but the second way is an adjustable fan. By moving around the player can manipulate the spread and direction of the fire. Then, when the player holds the fire button it locks that spread and direction in place so that the player can move around the boss. The other major innovation is in the boss design itself. Each boss is composed out of many parts (although they all share a common core). As you kill one boss it analyses your playing style, how you died, how the boss died, and evolves the next boss to work better.
This is very very cool.
I'll give you a simple example. Say you sat infront of the first boss and continuously fired until it died. The next level boss would have added a couple of extra units to the front as armour. This works on the same level for weapons as well. If you're constantly moving and jinking then the boss will adjust it's weapons to include more homing missiles (as these will prove effective against moving targets). If the boss kills you with lasers then it's more likely that the next boss will include lasers in it's arsenal. This opens up large swathes of strategy. A good technique is to shoot at the back of the boss for the first few levels so that when it starts getting harder the boss will be relatively unarmoured on the front. You might even go so far as to get purposely killed by weapon you know you're good against so as to influence the boss's evolution down a path that you will be able to cope with.
The only way to really see what I'm saying is to try this yourself. Good news though - as far as I can understand it's freeware. There's no certainly no English licence with the game and it's freely downloadable, although it might be shareware and I haven't noticed a payment option. Regardless, it can be downloaded from the author's site (
http://www18.big.or.jp/~hikoza/Prod/#wingame). The current version at the time of writing is 1.02. Minimum specs for your PC are Windows and a DirectX7 class graphics card.