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(CAPCOM / CAVE 2001)

Progear No Arashi (Storm of Progear) is CAVE's first horizontal scrolling shooter. The game takes place in a romantic fantasy of that era in history, when technological discoveries had just begun.

At the beginning of the game, the player chooses the plane he wants to fly: The Gambler or The Militant. The main difference between them is their speed and their shooting directions: Gambler shoots very wide and is slower, while the other one prefers more the straight shots but is faster in speed.

On the next screen you select your prefered type of gun flyer assistant, a pair of shooting satellites that will follow you throughout the game. Three different models are available. They differ in formation, bullet shapes and behavior.

In the game, continuous tapping the [A] button fires the main weapon. This playing style is called "Fighting" mode. Holding the same button makes the gun flyers lock on enemies and shoot them down. This mode is called "Gunner" mode. Like in many other games of this kind, you can upgrade the power of your weapons by collecting power-up items. Catching bomber items refills the stock of your smart bomb which can be released by pressing button [B]. In Progear it is a very powerful cannon that "drills" itself into the enemies.

If you destroy enemies in the right moment, they release rings and jewels which is important for scoring and for the power of your smart bomb. Nice idea: You don't have to collect the items manually. You can just change the weapon mode to "suck" them all in. See "Items & Scores" for details.

Like the other CAVE games, Progear consists of five massive stages. Tons of enemies, all drawn in that romantic "Jules Verne" style or whatever you want to call it. Although I think that the graphics look a little rougher than in Esprade or Guwange, there is still enough beauty and details to make Progear another outstanding masterpiece from CAVE. The soundtrack, written by Masahiro Kusunoki is good, but not so spectacular like earlier CAVE compositions. Kusunoki work goes from easy synthesizer-pop up to driving beats with orchestral and guitar tunes who fit the gameplay very well.

Progear No Arashi is a very favored and rather expensive CAVE title. Although distributed through a major company like CAPCOM, it is less common than Esprade or Do Donpachi. Nevertheless it is a very good game, I can highly recommend to all fans of modern shooting games.

- [the sheep] in 2004