Why am I not playing Bulk Slash more often? This should be on my regular rotation alongside Daytona USA, VF2 and World Series Baseball 98. When I think about what I love about Sega Saturn so much, one word always comes to mind: excitement. The games on this system charge my excitement circuits more than just about anything.
Here's a terrific gameplay video that shows off Hudson Soft's 3D shoot-em-up in all its glory. It's the closest any 32-bit videogame ever came to capturing the colorful, over-the-top thrills of the 16-bit era. You are immediately reminded of all the great shooters on Turbografx-16 and Genesis. I read many years ago, although I cannot confirm it to be true, that the software team (CAProductions) was composed of former Technosoft coders, some of the same guys responsible for Herzog Zwei and the early Thunder Force games. That would certainly explain some of the design ideas such as the city layouts and tank squads surrounding major military targets. It does make me pine for a proper 3D Herzog Drei, that's for sure.
This videogame is fast, wildly colorful, packed with catchy synth-pop chiptunes, packed with endless explosions and giant boss battles and, best of all, features a robot that transforms into a jet. What's not to love? The 3D polygon graphics are extremely solid and blend nicely with 2D art assets (VDP2 planes on the ground stretch out to the horizon). The speed never drops or chokes despite all the action, which involves endless waves of attackers from land and air.
If there were any critiques, I'd say the draw distance is too short, and there are some polygon tearing in the indoor stages. I also never really saw the point to the dating sim element, where you pick up a female copilot and then impress her with your flying and shooting skills, but at least that adds to the replay value as you'll want to see all the different endings. Contemporary gaming critics would have probably whined about the lack of Gouraud shading, realtime light-sourcing or overall "lightey-glowey" effects, which was their obsession in those days, but who really cares?
Bulk Slash is an arcade roller coaster start to finish, and nothing more really needs to be said. All that's needed are pizza rolls and a two-liter of soda and you've got a perfect afternoon waste away shooting alien spaceships. And what more do you really need out of life?
Once again, with feeling: this game really should have been released in the West.