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Omega Boost

Polyphony Digital has made a name for itself over the years with its work on the Gran Turismo series. Racing games very much are the studio’s specialty with its focus on that series. It’s had a few brief forays into other types of racing games with Tourist Trophy and Motor Toon Grand Prix. However, Gran Turismo has been their bread and butter. There is only one time in the company’s history where it completely stepped away from the racing genre. That was when they made Omega Boost. It was a rail shooter where players piloted a giant robot against all sorts of mechanized foes, and it was pretty darn good.

In the distant future, humans have created an AI called AlphaCore and for a time they thought it was pretty great. Unfortunately, they discovered that the thing was actually quite evil and began devising a way to destroy it. AlphaCore caught wind of this and a huge interplanetary war broke out between humanity and machines. Things don’t go well for the humans and they develop a last-ditch plan to save themselves: Omega Boost, an advance mech capable of time travel. Players pilot the robot and try to put an end to AlphaCore.

Given that this is a game developed by Polyphony Digital, it looks quite good. Graphics have always been something that the studio has excelled at. There are a number of interesting robot designs in the game. Omega Boost looks bad ass with its guns and missile launchers. Meanwhile, there are a ton of different enemy robots that players will have to fight of all shapes and sizes. Bosses in particular are gigantic, intimidating figures that punctuate the end of each stage.

The game is a rail shooter, so Omega Boost travels along a set path with enemies flying toward it. Players have a few ways to deal with opponents. They can use their machine gun to take some pot shots at the things, or the they can lock on with their missile systems. The latter is actually quite impressive. For one, they are missiles, so they do a lot more damage. More importantly, though, if one waits until all of their missiles are locked on, they can fire a massive swarm of the projectiles at once. It’s an impressive site to see, especially for those who remember 80s and 90s anime like Macross. Omega Boost’s missile attacks are quite reminiscent of the insane missile swarms found in battles from those shows.

Of course, enemies shoot back. Luckily, Omega Boost is a very nimble mech with thrusters around it that allow the machine to quickly dodge incoming fire. This adds an element of gracefulness to combat, as players dodge incoming missiles, then return fire as Omega Boost glides around the screen.

Later in the game, players will gain the Viper Boost ability, which is particularly impressive. This attack will cause Omega Boost to glow blue before it rams an enemy, causing a ton of damage. It’s a very useful ability and adds a certain degree of brutal aggressiveness to battle. It nicely complements the more elegant fighting style present when relying on Omega Boost’s projectile weapons.

After Omega Boost, Polyphony Digital went back to focusing on racing games, never to touch another genre again. It’s a shame given how good this game is, but it does make sense given how popular Gran Turismo became. Of course, the studio will focus on that juggernaut. Nevertheless, Omega Boost is an excellent rail shooter and an intriguing glimpse into what Polyphony is capable if when they spread their wings.

- IroIro
August 22, 2019
Platform: PlayStation
Genre: Rail Shooter
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: SCEI
Released: 1999

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