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Psyvariar Delta

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: Dispatch Games
Release Date: July 11, 2019

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Switch Review - 'Psyvariar Delta'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 25, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Psyvariar Delta is an enhanced version of the arcade game released in 2000. It retains the classic BUZZ system that lets players enjoy the thrill of leveling up by avoiding direct hits and evading enemy attacks just enough to graze their planes.

Buy Psyvariar Delta

In 2000, Japanese developer Success found a shooter that could act as a successor to its cult hit, Cotton. Debuting on Taito's arcade board, Psyvariar was the developer's attempt at the then-new bullet hell subgenre, and it was a hit. That was followed by a tweaked iteration before the sequel was made on Sega's Naomi hardware. While the first game eventually made it to a home console, it didn't do so beyond Japan and Europe. Nineteen years later, North American players who didn't import the game finally got their hands on the classic title with Psyvariar Delta on the Switch.

All of the hallmarks of the genre are here. That means a decent number of enemies acting as cannon fodder and bullets firing in clumps rather than in more discernible patterns. Boss fights increase that significantly, with patterned bullets that are plentiful enough to fill up the whole screen. Thankfully, your ship is always firing if you hold down the shoot button, and you have bombs that are more about clearing the screen than inflicting damage on the bosses. Also, the only part of the ship you need to worry about is your glowing core, so it's easier to thread through enemy bullet patterns.


The elements that make the game unique are abundant and excellent for both novices and veterans alike. The first of these is a dodge button, which lets your craft do a barrel roll. It also lets you pass through some of the bullets at the cost of your fire being narrower and more focused. The dodge is also locked to one direction, so constantly bobbing and weaving through bullet traffic means that you'll go through wide swaths of the field, which can result in you coming out of the roll and straight into a bullet if you aren't careful.

The most significant element is what is called the buzz system, which is essential to master if you want to make any progress in Psyvariar Delta. It is more RPG-like in nature, as you're awarded XP for passing by bullets without getting hurt. Leveling up actually powers up your ship, which is important since there aren't any pickups in the game. The power-ups are also permanent, as death won't take them away from you. Thus, you're encouraged to play the game more aggressively and not use up your bombs, since you'll want to charge through bullet hordes often to make later boss fights easier.

The effectiveness of the buzz system is dependent on the version of Psyvariar you're playing. If you're playing the Medium version, that means you can only buzz the same bullet once, but leveling up does give you a second of invincibility. If you're playing on Revised, you get the benefit of being able to buzz the same bullet multiple times. While this might seem like it'll make things easier, it's actually essential, since the later levels require you to be at a certain XP level before you gain access to them. It creates an interesting mechanic where careful players will experience a very short game, while those who play more aggressively will get everything the game offers, along with the true ending.


That mechanic alone is enough to give the game a longer playtime compared to other bullet hell shooters that also offer up infinite continues. In addition to the expected modes, like practice and score attack, you also have the ability to mix up elements from both versions, so you can try to get to the hard levels in the Revised version of the game but using the Medium's version of the buzz system. The game also happens to have plenty of optional graphs for things like your XP level progress and enemy health bars. There's also a zoomed-in view of your ship in case you want to get a better view of how you're cutting through bullets. For new players, this serves as a perfect way to understand the game's intricacies.

The presentation is good, albeit not too far off from the original game. The low-polygon elements have been sharpened with a resolution bump, and the textures have aged rather well for the most part. Meanwhile, the sprites certainly benefited from that same resolution boost, and the game handles itself well, producing no slowdown whatsoever even when the screen is flooded with bullets.

Psyvariar Delta is another excellent bullet hell shooter for Switch fans who are looking to stock up their shooter library. The unique mechanics make it a game that plays differently from other bullet hell shooters, and the ability to mix up the different versions' traits makes it a better title than the original arcade iterations. Until the sequel hits, this is a great representative for the series on the Switch.

Score: 8.5/10



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