Bite-sized Review:
IREM Collection - Volume 1

Developer: IREM

Release Date21 November, 2023

Platform: Windows

Genre: Simulation

By Chris Picone, 11 January 2024

I haven't had the pleasure of checking out too many IREM games other than, of course, the legendary R-Type. But I've had my attention drawn to the developer recently as they've been pumping out news regarding their upcoming IREM Collections.  Titles like GunForce, Air Duel, Mr. Heli, Mystic Riders, Dragonbreed, and they all look awesome.   Well, Volume 1, has just released!  IREM have come out swinging, bringing us Raiden-like titles Image Fight 1 & 2 as well as X-Multiply, which plays similarly to R-Type. 


All three games look and sound fantastic, true to their time but also aging really well. One of the lovely features about these IREM collections is that where multiple copies of a game existed, they're all made available to play.  X-Multiply, for example, originally released on Arcade but was later ported to Playstation & Sega Saturn. Each of these versions is playable, so you can hit exactly the nostalgic hit you're after.


Note: All three titles have received mod-con enhancements in this collection - all the normal stuff like fast forward & rewind, save states, etc.

Image Fight is a vertical scrolling shooter similar to Raiden where you rove the screen shooting baddies, dodging bullets, and picking up weapon upgrades.  Like any good 90s arcade game, it's pretty bloody unforgiving, with a single hit meaning death and limited credits, although this modern version does come with a playable (and easier) non-arcade version. My favourite feature - and what I think makes Image Fight stand alone from the hundreds of scrolling shooters out there - is the level design.  You're often forced to navigate all sorts of mazes - tricky enough as hitting a wall is lethal but more so as it also puts you in some interesting situations when trying to position yourself against the enemy. 

Image Fight 2 features a significant upgrade from the original in terms of cutscenes and story. However, it is my least favourite of the three games in this collection.  I don't know if it's a porting issue but I found the controls really laggy and the movement very slow, which created what felt like an artificial difficulty where the controls were the issue rather than the enemy bullets.  

X-Multiply is a gnarly side scrolling shooter that sees you fighting off weird organic bosses and enemies with a sweet set of robot arms.  The arms can be tricky to manipulate but once you get it right you'll use them to catch and deflect enemy projectiles. They arms also shoot and you can really maximise their potential by spreading them out to hit targets on the ground or ceiling, or by closing them together to focus fire. 


If you played these games back in the day, you're going to love the faithful recreation in this collection.  If you haven't but you're a fan of scrolling retro shooters, you're also going to love it.  They're great games.  I played on the Switch but the collection's available across a range of consoles.