Title: Falsion
   Genre: Shooting
   Developer: Konami
   Released by: Konami
   Release Date: October 21, 1987
   Japanese level: 1
   MSRP: 2980 yen
   Current Price: 500 yen

Although Nintendo released the 3D System in 1987, the company itself released zero compatible games. It left that responsibility to the third parties for some reason, and only a handful of games gave it a second look... and of those, the only real standout is Falsion, a shooter without any pretenses and without any restraints.

The story

I happen to enjoy this game, so I'm going to take the story right out of the manual...

"AD 21XX. Man's neverending challenge to space continues on. The moon has become a completely habitable star, and a space development colony has already been completed on the Lagrange point of Pluto. Now the human race is planning to use this colony as a starting point for the further conquest of space, with the help of the currently under development Hyperzone Drive.

However, in a far corner of the galaxy, an alien race which has already developed Hyperzone Drive technology has its own plans about ruling space and is invading nearby planets at an alarming rate. Now the aliens have so many planets under their rule that conquest has almost become a game to them.

The aliens' most powerful warship "Gigantos", already with its targets on Earth, approaches Sector 11 of the Pluto space colony. Several flashes of light later, the sector is destroyed instantly and the colony falls with zero resistance. Now the threat is on Earth - the combined forces of the planet is nothing to Gigantos. If something isn't done, then the human race will be destroyed!

There is only one thing that can save man now. Although still untested, the just-completed Hyperzone Drive must be used to attack the aliens' forces directly! Soon, the United Space Force's bravest pilots are summoned and inserted into the new Hyperzone Drive fighting squadron "Space Force". With no time to spare for training, these forces are sent to the alien's main base immediately.

...However, most of the ships are ill-prepared for the Hyperzone. Unable to control their craft, many pilots are swept away into the far reaches of space, unable to turn off the Drive. Miraculously, one ship survived the jump. That ship's name - Falsion! Fight on, Falsion, and save the human race from sure destruction!"

...sort of thing, but don't worry about that now - just plug in your 3d goggles and hit Start, and check out what kind of game you get...

Blast off into adventure

When I put Falsion into the disk drive and turned on the power, I finally realized why I bought a 3d System. Every piece of hardware has a respective piece of software that takes the hardware to the limits, showing off what it can really do; Falsion is just this software for the studly-looking but unsupported 3d goggles.

The game will probably remind you the most of Space Harrier, or TetraStar if you're up on your obscure Famicom knowledge. Front and center is your craft, or rather the rear of it - you get a sort of first person view and enemies swarm in front of you. You have your regular old rapid-fire beam weapon, and a limited supply of homing missiles. Occasionally P power-ups encircle the screen; blue ones speed you up and red ones give you more missiles.

The six levels take place on a sprawling set of vistas - from the oddly-scrolling stars of deep space, to lush After Burner-style jungle planets, to the weird striped corridors that seem to be de rigeur for 3d space shooters like this. Attacking you are the pretty much standard series of enemies - little hopping ships, invincible meteorites, flying snake robots, and the large-scale robot bosses at the end of levels.

This game looks fairly cheap in the screenshots, 'tis true; it's in the animation of everything that counts. The backgrounds are fully in motion the entire time, and enemies pop in and out of them. And that's only the 2d mode, which you're unfortunately stuck with if you're on ze emulator. Playing in 3d mode with the shutter glasses is a great experience - the 3d effect looks extremely real and if you have a big enough TV (I sure don't) you might find yourself dodging meteorite showers with your body as well as the controller.

Gameplay is also extremely fluid. I especially like how shots bounce off of invincible objects like meteors and fly into deep space somewhere. The general strategy that pays off the whole game is to just generally weave a figure-eight pattern and hit the A button a lot... Works for me.

If you have the goggles, this is a must-get. It's a little uncommon; Konami was probably pushing their luck making a game that required both the Disk System and the 3d System to play fully. At the time that was at least a $250 investment to be made, but nowadays it's definitely worth it to play the only game that really rivals Sega's 8-bit 3d efforts on the Master System.

Note: The FDS disk image on the net is hacked so you start with 99 lives. Unfortunately the buttons are broken; both A and B launches homing missiles when only the A button is supposed to do so. As a result you waste all your missiles almost immediately, unfortunately. Anyone got an unhacked disk image?