is a 2D Bullet Hell Shoot 'em Up
developed by SITER SKAIN and is the second chapter of The Tale of ALLTYNEX
trilogy. The gameplay plays mostly like a regular shooter but with a few twists. Instead of being the regular One-Hit-Point Wonder
, your ship, the Phoenix Mk-II, can take a boatload of hits, and you have a shield that can reflect certain bullets right back at the enemies. This is offset by the fact that you have no extra lives, no bombs and no way of restoring durability once it's gone.
The story first centers around the resistance group known as the The Valkyness in their effort against the corrupt government. Progress is slow and the government doesn't even recognize the Valkyness as a serious threat... more of a minor nuisance. That is, until their new fighter, the Phoenix Mk-II developed by Doctor Dennis, is scrambled after its carrier ship is shot down. Equipped with a new form of shielding system, extreme durability, and significantly greater firepower, it poses a new serious threat to the government.
Then a third party gets involved, things take a turn for the worse
. RefleX is the most story-driven game in the trilogy and has by far the darkest
plot as well. Although the story is All There in the Manual
, it is noticeable in that the story plays a huge role in gameplay, such as the ship being repaired before stages 5 and 7.
This game originally started out as a relatively short freeware game
by Ysuer titled Reflection
that was released for Windows in 1998. At one point, Ysuer joined SITER SKAIN and began working on a remake of the game under the project name "Reflection X
". Unfortunately, due to problems that rose during its development, it took ten
years for the game to finally see the light of day in 2008. On June 6, 2013, Nyu Media brought RefleX
overseas alongside Kamui
and ALLTYNEX Second
, releasing them on Nyu Media, Rice Digital, GamersGate, and DESURA
, and later to Steam on March 27, 2014. The original soundtrack can be purchased for digital download or listened to on SITER SKAIN's Bandcamp website here
If you're interested in trying out the original Reflection
, you can still find it here
.Not to be confused with
the Duran Duran
song "The Reflex".
RefleX features examples of:
- Above Good and Evil: Regarding Ophiuchus at least.
Good and evil, savior and destroyer. These are subjective concepts that exist in the eye of the beholder. Wanting only salvation, fearful mankind saw the Ophiuchus as a savior, even though its power transcended good and evil.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Like the rest of the series, it loves to play with this trope.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: Not you, but your ship. It is a ZODIAC, the same class of killer machine that's laying waste to Earth.
- Animal Motifs: The resistance seems to be fond of snakes. The church allied with it is known as the "Order of the Holy Snake". The mass-produced Phoenix-like ships are known as Serpents. Finally, "Ophiuchus", the name of the Phoenix's ZODIAC core, is derived from the Greek word for "serpent-bearer".
- Apocalypse How: By the time the ending rolls, a Planetary Societal Disruption has happened.
- Attack Drone: The final boss uses these in Stage 8 to fire off Wave Motion Guns along with its own.
- Attack Reflector: a core mechanic of this game.
- Autobots, Rock Out!: Despair -Cancer-.
- Battleship Raid: The fight against Sagittarius.
- Bittersweet Ending: The immensely powerful ZODIACs are destroyed and will never threaten people again... but Earth is in ruins and most of humanity has been wiped out.
- Boss-Only Level:
- The entirety of Area 4 is spent fighting Cancer.
- Most of Area 7 pits you against ZODIAC Virgo, although there are two "break" spots with cannon fodder enemies.
- Area 8 is one big battle against ZODIAC Libra and two KAMUI units.
- Boss Warning Siren: The game plays an audio siren and displays a "WARNING" banner that displays the name and subtitle of the boss. The siren is also used when ZODIAC Virgo comes out of nowhere in a cutscene to finish off Cancer.
- Bullet Hell: Some bosses (particularly ZODIAC Virgo and Libra) have certain attacks that can easily put any CAVE boss to shame. Fortunately, you don't have to actually dodge them.
- Call Forward: The Final Boss theme is a darker arrangement of "Final Hour", Kamui's Stage 1 theme.
- Climax Boss: ZODIAC Virgo.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Enemy fire is colored differently; blue can be reflected back to your enemies, red does not, and pink is the same as red but can be destroyed by your shots.
- Combos: Killing an enemy with a reflected attack will start a combo timer, during which further destroyed enemies will have their points doubled and reset the timer. Reflect-killing more enemies will increase the multiplier in powers of two, up to x32 for standard shots and x64 for reflected shots.
- Continuing Is Painful: Using a continue will let you keep your score, but it will be invalidated after the game ends. If you set a record score and then choose to continue, kiss that new record goodbye.
- Continuity Nod: The ruins of ALLTYNEX are clearly visible at the beginning of Stage 7.
- Controllable Helplessness: You can try to tilt your ship or use your reflect shield when ZODIAC Virgo tries to murder you, but you'll run out of shield and armor and die long before his attacks finish.
- Cosmetic Award: Beating the game without continuing nets you a secret theme, "A Choice with No Alternative", which is a remix of the Stage 1 theme from Reflection, the prototype game for RefleX.
- Darker and Edgier: The darkest one in the trilogy.
- Deface of the Moon: When Cancer gets shot down by ZODIAC Virgo, it crashes into the moon and creates a huge crater. The blast apparently destroyed most of both the military's and the Valkyness' lunar bases in the process.
- Destructive Saviour: ZODIAC Ophiuchus.
- Difficult but Awesome: The special ship, ZODIAC Ophiuchus, has a special "Photon Blaster" attack, activated by reflecting non-laser shots and then releasing the shield button. The reflected shots then turn into blasts of light that target the nearest enemy and inflict massive damage. The timing can be tricky and you can easily get killed doing it, but doing this will allow you to slice off a lot of health from bosses as well as kill ZODIAC Libra before it even begins its final attack phase.
- Difficulty Levels: Averted; the game has only one difficulty level. The closest you can get is unlocking the ZODIAC Ophiuchus for use in any stage in training mode.
- Difficulty Spike: Area 7, after the Phoenix transforms. Sure, you get an unlimited-use shield, but you're reduced to a One-Hit-Point Wonder with no extra lives for the rest of the game. Shut off your shield during a screen-filling attack or fail to hit one of the missiles, and you're screwed.
- Direct Continuous Levels: Stages 1 to 6.
- Disc One Final Boss: Cancer. You defeat it, and a then-unknown ship belonging to a third party (ZODIAC Virgo) flies in and finishes it off, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
- Disc One Final Dungeon: Area 3, where you fight the Global Unified Army's orbital fleet. This is the last wave of resistance you meet from them en masse.
- Driven to Suicide: Tsukikagerou, the commander of the Raiwat Drone Army and the Counter Ophiuchus Unit, kills himself after his plans meet catastrophic failure.
- Dual Boss: Gemini fits this.
- Enropi are three dual bosses straight followed with a battle with the leader.
- Eleventh Hour Superpower: The ZODIAC Ophiuchus' core activating. Subverted in that the ship also becomes a One-Hit-Point Wonder at the same time, despite having massive firepower and infinite shield.
- Enemy Mine: The Raiwat invasion forces the government and the Valkyness to join forces in order to repel them. You even see Human Virgo fighting alongside you in Areas 6 and 7.
- Event Flag: In Area 7, if you don't empty your Shield meter before Virgo kills you, the transformation cutscene doesn't trigger and you will get a Game Over instead.
- Every 10,000 Points: Somewhat. Your armor is fully repaired at the beginning of Areas 5 and 7.
- Explosive Overclocking: Played straight and invoked.
- Played straight in that Libra fired its strongest attack twice in rapid succession and in doing so severely crippled itself.
- Invoked by the Phoenix/ZODIAC Ophiuchus in the end by fusing the 12 ZODIAC cores with its own, causing it to overload and self-destruct in order to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again.
- Featureless Protagonist: The player character is never shown or named, unlike Kamui's or ALLTYNEX Second's; all you know is that the Phoenix's pilot is a male and some narrative quips they give out in stage select and the sound test.
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Sagittarius' main cannon as well as the ZODIAC's laser.
- From Bad to Worse: At the beginning of this game, your carrier is ambushed by Human Virgo, which kills Doctor Dennis and many of your companions. From here, things keep getting worse.
- Get Back Here Boss: When ZODIAC Virgo realizes that the Phoenix is a ZODIAC, it decides to turn tail and flee, but the Phoenix soon catches up and destroys its rear engines, leaving it with no other option than to stand and fight.
- Giant Enemy Crab: Cancer, unsurprisingly, resembles one after transforming.
- Glass Cannon:
- Sagittarius's bridge has extremely poor armor, and can be quickly killed even without reflected shots (though if you're playing for score, you shouldn't be doing that). Justified by Ysuer in The Tale of ALLTYNEX Official Guide Book, who explains that a bridge with firepower doesn't make sense and any ship of that size that allows a small fighter to reach its bridge has already lost anyway.
- ZODIAC Ophiuchus, the awakened form of the Phoenix. Immense firepower, infinite-use reflection shield, and...dies in a single hit.
- Godzilla Threshold: Faced with both the Raiwat invasion and the colossal battles between the ZODIAC units, mankind manages to just barely survive the war by building a Neural Network based on ALLTYNEX OS, the same supercomputer that once nearly annihilated all of mankind through its mastery of military technology and AI subjugation, which manages to drive off the Raiwat.
- Gratuitous Arabic: Stage 7 is called Ras Alhague, which is the Arabic name for Alpha Ophiuchi, the brightest star in the constellation Ophiuchus. This foreshadows the revelation that the Phoenix is ZODIAC Ophiuchus.
- Gratuitous English: In the Japanese version:
- Stages 1-4 use English for the names of the stages themselves and the bosses.
- Stages 5-8 is a little more complicated. The stage title cards show the stage name in native Japanese, then fades out to show the English title, except in katakana; boss names are also written in katakana. In the international release's title cards, the titles are written in English like in the first four stages, but in a different font, in an effort to preserve the effect. The fading in text, however, has been removed, which results in:
- Lost in Translation: The Japanese title for Area 7, 蛇遣いの最先 ("Snake Charmer's Beginning"), does not bear the same meaning as its "English" title, and is not present in the international version.
- Gut Punch: ZODIAC Virgo delivered two of these, first when it shot down Cancer from behind and when it destroyed the Phoenix.
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: ZODIAC Virgo unleashes a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on you in Area 7, causing the Phoenix's armor meter to empty out, culminating in the ship's destruction. Subverted when the Phoenix revives and its Eleventh Hour Superpower kicks in.
- Do note, however, that if you allow ZODIAC Virgo to hit you at zero armor left BEFORE you drain out your shield meter, the Event Flag will not trigger and you will get the usual Game Over screen.
- Heart Beat Soundtrack: Time of end.
- Hero Antagonist: the two Kamui fighters sent to destroy both ZODIAC units in the final battle.
- The Hero Dies: Both the main hero and his artificially intelligent ship, at different points.
- Hero Killer: All of the ZODIAC's possess immense destructive power that lets them one-shot other bosses. ZODIAC Virgo demonstrates during the latter half of the game.
- Heroic Suicide: ZODIAC Ophiuchus shuts itself down with the 12 ZODIAC cores in order to end the ZODIAC threat once and for all.
- High Speed Battle: The battle against Scorpio moves at a notably faster pace than many others.
- Hitbox Dissonance: Averted, the hitbox is much bigger than the Bullet Hell genre would suggest.
- Implacable Man: ZODIAC Virgo. Eventually, The Phoenix will become this too.
- Infinity+1 Sword: For beating the game for the first time, you unlock the ZODIAC Ophiuchus for the stage select to use on any stage.
- Interface Spoiler: Why does the game show the Phoenix's full name on the Score Screen and stage select? Because you get to unlock another ship.
- Intermission: Between Areas 7 and 8, as one big Info Dump, as Area 8 is set after a Time Skip.
- The Juggernaut: ZODIAC Virgo, as Human Virgo found out the hard way.
- Killed Off for Real: The pilot of the Phoenix, although thanks to the core's A.I., the Phoenix was still able to keep going despite practically being flying wreckage.
- Knight of Cerebus: ZODIAC Virgo. Once it makes an appearance, the plot gets turned upside-down.
- La Résistance: The Valkyness.
- Lightning Bruiser: Scorpio is pretty big, has lots of weapons and is fast as hell.
- Made of Explodium: One must wonder what those Kamui fighters are made of in order to explode like that.
- Made of Iron: The Phoenix, especially compared to many shmup ships. It can take 9 hits before finally going down (but once it does, that's an instant Game Over... there are no extra lives).
- Macross Missile Massacre: Many enemies and bosses alike love to use this, because it isn't hindered by your shield.
- Meaningful Name: You think they call your ship "Phoenix" just because it sounds cool? Think again!
- In addition, the ZODIAC Ophiuchus. Ophiuchus is actually considered an astrological sign in Japan, but not in many other parts of the world, which stick to the traditional 12-sign Zodiac. The fact that the Ophiuchus is an "extra" ZODIAC that the others were unaware of may be a reference to this.
- Area 7 is called "Ras Alhague"; see the Gratuitous Foreign Language entry above.
- As for why ZODIAC Libra is the last target, Ophiuchus used to be part of the Greek zodiac, but its stars were seen to be drifting a little too far south to fit in the always-visible zodiac belt. This is a problem, since the original point of splitting the zodiac belt into twelve was to help with agricultural timing. Therefore, Ophiuchus was removed, and the claws of Scorpio were made into their own constellation — Libra. In other words, Libra is both the last ZODIAC and the last constellation to have been added.
- Mêlée à Trois: The final battle with the Phoenix/ZODIAC Ophiuchus vs. ZODIAC Libra vs. two Kamui fighters.
- Mercy Mode: Somewhat, every time you die, the game lets you start with an extra continue and these stack up. Strangely enough, the game also rewards you with another continue if you beat the game without using any.
- Mood Whiplash: After finally destroying the final boss, Libra, a mellow piano suddenly starts playing followed by ZODIAC Ophiuchus blowing itself up.
- More Dakka: Well, it comes with the whole Bullet Hell package.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When the Phoenix destroyed the Sagittarius, it turns out that it was busy holding back a much graver threat, the Raiwat Invasion force.
- Nintendo Hard: It may even be the hardest in the series, depending on how adept you are with the shield. There isn't even an Easy difficulty, unlike the other two games.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Virgo delivers this to the Phoenix in the middle of stage 7, killing the pilot and triggering the Phoenix's Eleventh Hour Superpower.
- Nominal Hero: ZODIAC Ophiuchus wants to destroy the other ZODIAC units. At first, its victories over the enemy ZODIACs bring humanity to hail it as their savior. But ZODIAC Ophiuchus is only focused on destroying the ZODIACs, not saving humanity or the Earth, and as a result it causes a lot of collateral damage in the process, giving it the highest death toll during the events of the game. Ophiuchus is subsequently downgraded from "savior" to "just another menace to the Earth."
- Non-Lethal K.O.: Of all the bosses in the game, Virgo — the human-piloted one, not ZODIAC Virgo — is the only one who isn't destroyed after you defeat it; you clearly see it retreating from battle. Yes, you do see it later, as an ally.
- Oddball in the Series: Although all three games play differently, RefleX shares less in common with Kamui or ALLTYNEX Second than those two games share with each other. You only get one life, extra health only comes at two points in the game instead of at regular intervals dependent on the player's abilities, using a continue nullifies your score outright instead of just recording your first-credit score and then resetting your score to zero, the high score boards don't display stage reached, there are no difficulty levels, you don't fight some form of ALLTYNEX, and the final two stages reduce you to a One-Hit-Point Wonder. This most likely has to do with RefleX's development being led by Ysuer, rather than Jirurun, who led development on Kamui and ALLTYNEX Second.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We never see the other ten ZODIACs get destroyed by ZODIAC Ophiuchus.
- Oh, Crap / This Is Gonna Suck: As soon as "Mortal Illness" starts playing, you know things will get ugly.
- Also what likely passed through ZODIAC Virgo's mind just moments later when it realised that the Phoenix had a ZODIAC core.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: The game sure makes some good use of these.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Averted, then played straight when the Phoenix becomes ZODIAC Ophiuchus.
- Outside-Context Villain: The ZODIACs.
- Petting Zoo People: The Raiwat were once human, but eventually evolved into this to adapt to their harsh environment.
- The Phoenix: The player ship's name. Partway through Area 7, we find out that it's called so for a reason.
- Power Gives You Wings: The ZODIAC fighters gain these when they activate their full power. The Phoenix gains these as well.
- Precursors: The Raiwat are actually the original human civilization. Earth humans are the descendants of a group of Raiwat that left prior to the mutations, and took ZODIAC Ophiuchus with them, leaving the Raiwat to fend for themselves against the other ZODIACs. While Earth humans have long forgotten this, the Raiwat haven't, and are invading for the purpose of revenge.
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: The Kamui fighters in the final stage. In fact, aside from being much more durable, they don't really do much that the player couldn't do in Kamui.
- Pyrrhic Victory: ZODIAC Ophiuchus destroys all 12 of the other ZODIACs... but the battles end up bringing about a massive blow to the Earth and humanity, setting back civilization by millenia. The Raiwat aren't much better off; while they did manage to slaughter a good chunk of the Earth's forces, they only did so indirectly because of collateral damage by ZODIAC Ophiuchus, which was also a major threat to the Raiwat and the ZODIAC units that they were sending out with no success, eventually forcing the Raiwat to retreat without the Ophiuchus captured. Raiwat Commander Tsukikagerou is so devastated by his failure that he kills himself.
- Ramming Always Works: ZODIAC Virgo tries to attack you by ramming you with its shield on. Using your shield will block its attack.
- Really Dead Montage: The charred remains of the Phoenix Mk-II in a crater are shown by the end of the credits.
- Return to Shooter: The game's most central mechanic.
- Roboteching: Some of the enemy lasers are able to do as much as a 90º turn. Of course, you can use this against them by reflecting said lasers right back.
- Rule of Symbolism: Scutum has a distinctly church-like Ominous Pipe Organ in its theme and crosses on its armor and turrets. One of its attacks forms a six-pointed star with lasers.
- Most of the bosses are named after Zodiac constellations.
- In Area 6, there is an enemy that shoots out a massive storm of bullets, but they're all blue, allowing you to reflect them. This is meant to be a shout out to Ikaruga, which has an enemy in the final chapter that spews out extreme amounts of white bullets, allowing you to easily absorb them to charge up your homing attack.
- Sins of Our Fathers: The primary motive for the Raiwat invasion. The Yuda clan parted with them, taking ZODIAC Ophiuchus with them, leaving the Raiwat to be ravaged by the ZODIACs. The invasion is to get back at humanity — the descendants of Yuda — for their ancestors' actions.
- Sucking-In Lines: During Libra's final attack.
- Super Prototype: The Phoenix Mk-II, invented by Doctor Dennis and powered by the 13th ZODIAC core.
- Tank Goodness: Taurus is sure one big tank.
- Tennis Boss: In the original Reflection, Cancer uses a reflector shield very similar to yours. He continuously fires with it up, causing you both to deflect shots and lasers back at each other.
- Theme Naming: The Zodiac gets a lot of exposure in this game.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: In keeping with the Western Zodiac theme, the thirteenth ZODIAC is called Ophiuchus, known by some as the "13th" sign of the Zodiac. Said ZODIAC goes on a rampage that destroys the other 12 ZODIACs... as well as a large chunk of the Earth in the process.
- Time Skip: Stage 8 takes place years after Stage 7, and the ZODIACs have been busy getting killed by ZODIAC Ophiuchus, with most of Earth becoming collateral damage in the process.
- The Unfettered: ZODIAC Ophiuchus.
- True Final Boss: In Reflection, meeting certain conditions unlocks the boss battle with Cancer. In RefleX, Cancer has been downgraded to the Area 4 boss.
- Video Game Remake: Of Reflection.
- Villain Exit Stage Left: By the time the battle between ZODIAC Libra, ZODIAC Ophiuchus, and the two Kamui fighters takes place, the Raiwat are already retreating from the Solar System.
- Walking Spoiler: You can't really discuss non-surface details about the Phoenix itself without spoiling it.
- Was Once a Man: The Raiwat.
- Wave Motion Gun: The ZODIACs are armed with these and sometimes the laser blasts cover the entire screen.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: ZODIAC Ophiuchus can be seen as this. It is trying to get rid of the deadly ZODIACs, but is absolutely relentless in its quest and doesn't seem to care who or what gets in its way. By the time the final chapter begins, Ophiuchus has very likely achieved a death toll that would make ALLTYNEX OS proud.
- Western Zodiac: The game's bosses are named after these.
My fathers, Descendants of the Yuda.
I have fulfilled my objective and now return to dust with the 12 souls.
May peace reign forever, may mothers be loved and fathers be honored.