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Video Game / Aleste

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A series of Vertical Scrolling Shooter games made by Compile. Most of the Aleste games received North American and/or European release but were renamed to hide the connection.

After Compile went out of business, the rights for most of their catalogue went to D4 Enterprise. Much later, the rights to the Aleste series were purchased by M2.

Games in the series

Compile era

M2 era

Tropes present in the series:

  • Action Girl: Many of the protagonists are ladies, including Ellinor Waizen (Aleste 2, GG Aleste, M.U.S.H.A. and Aleste Branch), Alice Pfeiffer Waizen (GG Aleste 2) and Luna Waizen (GG Aleste 3). The box art for the Aleste Collection emphasizes this, with the male pilot of the Master System Power Strike II being placed in the top-right corner behind Luna, Alice, and Ellinor. Taken even further with Senjin, as all four pilots are female also.
  • Actionized Sequel: Senjin Aleste is considerably beefed up from past games, making use of modern hardware to put on a frantic showcase of Bullet Hell.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In the first game, DIA 51 is infected by a virus and attempts to destroy the human race.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: The first game was essentially made to give the Master System its own Zanac; Sega had approached Compile to create software for the Master System and Nintendo strict anti-competitive clause (which forbade third-parties from porting their NES releases to other systems) meant they could not just port the game.
  • Alternate History: Power Strike II is set in an alternate version of Great Depression Europe, where victims of the Depression's mass layoffs take to sky piracy to put food on the table, with Bounty Hunters like the protagonist hot on their tails.
  • Amazon Brigade: All four pilots in Senjin are female.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Most of the games grant the player a brief bit of invincibility whenever they grab a power-up, though how much invincibility is given varies by the game.
    • As with most of M2's ShotTriggers re-releases, the side border of the Aleste Collection lays out each game's intricate mechanics during gameplay, including the current shot level, how close the player is to earning an extra life, what each weapon does, and how much invincibility the player has. As an aesthetic touch, every game except the first Aleste features a portrait of the lead pilot with the GG Aleste trilogy having animated portraits.
    • Subverted with GG Aleste II's bomb equivalent, G-Strike. Unlike most shmup bomb mechanics, G-Strike offers no invincibility, has about a second of startup time, and is quite expensive to refill. Not to mention that the player only starts out with one.
    • Due to the fact that the games don't really have in-depth scoring systems and bosses can be milked indefinitely, the online ranking tables for Aleste Collection ranks entries on stage reached followed by score, or time for entries that beat the game. GG Aleste 3 uses strictly score-based tables, due to having no infinite-farming zones.
    • In GG Aleste 3, normally enemies fire back a single bullet when destroyed on Special difficulty, however this mechanic is removed for the rocket climb segment in Wave 5 to avoid complicating the game on top of the perspective gimmick.
  • Anti-Grinding: In Collection, the leaderboards for all games besides GG Aleste 3 prioritize stage reached over score, e.g. a stage 4 play with 300,000 points will beat out a stage 3 play with 500,000 points. Furthermore, if you beat the game, the tiebreaker isn't score, but rather how fast you completed. This punishes boss milking and instead rewards killing them as quickly as possible, as well as encourages playing the game with slowdown turned off.
  • Badass Family: The Waizen family. All of them are fighter pilots, and most of them are female.
  • Bonus Dungeon: After completing Aleste, select Continue Game from the title screen to access Round 0, a Palette Swapped and compressed version of Round 1.
  • Bonus Level:
    • GG Aleste has bonus stages where your subweapon is disabled and you destroy waves of enemies. The enemies don't fire, won't kill you if you run into them, and each full wave defeated awards a cache of powerup chips or a subweapon powerup item. You get a bonus at the end depending on how many enemies you defeated, with additional points awarded on top of that if you destroy all of them.
    • GG Aleste 2's bonus stages spring an Unexpected Gameplay Change on you by putting you in behind-the-ship view. You have to move a cursor to lock onto enemies and fire missiles at them. However, if you fire a missile without locking on first or if the enemy escapes your missile, it counts as a miss, which will reduce your bonus at the end.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • In the first Aleste game, Weapon 1, your starting subweapon, is this. It's nothing really fancy, just orbs that fire in the direction that your ship is moving. However, it has infinite ammo unlike all the other subweapons, its damage output gets pretty good at higher levels, and at max level it can also cancel enemy bullets.
    • A variant of Aleste Weapon 1 appears in GG Aleste 3 as the A subweapon. It's the default one, fires in the opposite direction of your directional input (making it useful for defending against pursuers, or even cheesing some bosses and enemy waves by just moving into one of the corners of the screen), and cancels bullets at all levels, making it essential for Special difficulty when enemies fire bullets upon defeat.
  • Boss-Only Level: The final stage of Power Strike II has you collecting a few power ups just before the Final Boss makes his appearance.
  • Boss Subtitles: How the characters are introduced in the second game's opening sequence.
  • Bounty Hunter: The protagonigst of Power Strike II makes his living by hunting Sky Pirates.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Aleste Collection breaks several trends that had been established by the M2 ShotTriggers port series:
    • The previous five releases had vertically-oriented screens; all of the games in Collection have horizontally-oriented screens (although they are still vertical-scrolling games). Consequently, there are less and smaller M2 Gadgets surrouding the game screen.
    • Unlike the previous releases, all of the games in the collection are consumer-software games rather than arcade games.
    • There are no Arrange Modes (like Battle Garegga Rev.2016's Premium Arrange mode) or even just rebalanced tweaks of the existing game (like ESP Ra.De. Psi's Arcade Plus mode). The closest there is would be the Auto Rank option, which downgrades scores to the All-Mix leaderboard.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Subtly done with the GG Aleste protagonists. Ellinor wears a red pilot suit, Alice has a blue pilot suit and blue hair, and while Luna's pilot suit is primarily black there is a significant amount of yellow-orange in the chest area and around the visor of her helmet.
  • Compilation Rerelease: The Aleste Collection for the PS4 and Switch contains the two Master System games (Aleste and the Europe-exclusive Power Strike II), the two Game Gear games (GG Aleste and GG Aleste II), and a brand-new game in GG Aleste 3; it also has the option to switch Aleste and GG Aleste II to their non-Japanese versions.
  • Consolation Prize: In Aleste Collection's Aleste Challenge mode, you earn Challenge Points for completing each segment. Getting a Gold Medal, which requires completing the segment with no hits, earns you 10,000 GP. Getting a Silver Medal, which means you got hit once, earns you...3 points. Getting a Bronze Medal, which is anything below that without running out of retries, earns you a single point. While the Silvers are good for knowing which segments you may be able to get Gold on, they're worthless in regards to the online rankings.
  • Covers Always Lie: This poster for the second game, which features Ellinor wielding a flamethrower makes the game look like it'll be a Run-and-Gun game in the style of Contra, though it isn't.
  • Cue the Sun: The ending of GG Aleste 3.
  • Dark Reprise: The Final Boss theme of GG Aleste 3, "D", features a few notes from "Last Messiah", the Wave 2 theme, amidst the otherwise high-tempo and frantic track.
  • Darker and Edgier: Aleste 2, which starts with Ray getting killed off, and the villains obliterating New York before overrunning Earth.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: As usual for the genre, defeated enemies immediately turn into neat fireballs. Notably subverted in the rocket-climbing portion of GG Aleste 3's fifth stage, where a defeated enemy instead blows a wing and/or engine and falls off of the screen.
  • Deflector Shields: GG Aleste II and GG Aleste 3 give the player a barrier that will absorb one hit after 20 powerup capsules have been collected.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: M2 implemented an anti-piracy trigger in GG Aleste 3, possibly as a response to their port of the first Darius game for the Genesis Mini being leaked on the internet. If GG Aleste 3 is being played on an emulator or a flashcart, the trigger will activate, causing the game to reset infinitely, making it impossible to get past the title screen.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The original Aleste has quite a bit of this, due to still having much of Zanac's design DNA (note that many of these elements are also present in Zanac):
    • Your main shot and your subweapon are operated with separate buttons. Later games just have the fire button shoot both the main gun and subweapon.
    • Subweapons besides the default Weapon 1 have finite use. Later games give all subweapons infinite ammo.
    • There are no stages that take place in space or high in the sky, unlike later games.
    • Continuing after a Game Over is done on the title screen rather than a dedicated game over screen.
    • Every boss is a Cores-and-Turrets Boss, rather than being a mobile vehicle.
    • Dying takes away ALL of your main shot upgrades and changes your subweapon back to a level 1 Weapon 1; later games only reduce weapon and subweapon power by a fixed amount.
    • There's only one difficulty level, while later games at least two.note 
    • Ellinor Waizen, the series' resident Action Girl, is not the main protagonist.
    • Switching subweapons will give you a level 1 version of the subweapon you just changed. Later games transfer over the level of the subweapon you were using to the new one.
    • The first game doesn't have a well-defined protagonist, just a generic pilot who, as the ending shows, doesn't have any outstanding features. Then there's the MSX adaptation, which features the only male protagonist in the main Aleste canon and the only known male member of the Waizen family, although the alternate-canon spinoffs Super Aleste, Robo Aleste, and Power Strike II (SMS) also have male protagonists.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: If GG Aleste 3 is beaten on Normal Mode, not only will Luna's ship be shown damaged in the ending, but we later see her recovering on a wheelchair in a hospital and not looking the least bit amused with the look on her face giving you a “What the Hell, Player?” look. But if the game is beaten on Special Mode, her fighter will be completely unscathed in the ending and we later see her taking a selfie at the beach.
  • Expy: Ellinor's early designs resemble Noa Izumi.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The writers of Aleste 2 assumed that the WTC Twin Towers in New York would still exist in 2039, rather than being blown up by terrorists in 2001.
  • Flash of Pain: The protagonist's spacecraft often flashes white when hit.
  • Flunky Boss: The Final Boss of GG Aleste 3, for its second phase, calls in reinforcement Mooks to attack you in line formations. Destroying them without letting a single one escape will award a "Perfect" bonus.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • Aleste is revealed to be short for "Aerial Loading and Embedding System for Tactical Enforcement".
    • The "GG" in GG Aleste officially means Galvanic Gunner, while doubling as a reference to the Game Gear.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: For reasons not entirely clear, the third stage of GG Aleste II has a rare chance of the graphics suddenly corrupting. This isn't necessarily tied to wear and tear on the cartridge, as it can happen in the Aleste Collection version.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: In Power Strike II (SMS), at the start of each stage, you're shown a "Wanted!" Poster showing the pilot of the endboss ship with their reward listed at the bottom. The reward money is also the amount of points you get for defeating the boss.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Vagand is this to the first game, as they were responsible for DIA 51's malfunction.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: Power Strike II (SMS). On one hand, you have the pirates who plunder and whatnot to make a living during The Great Depression. Then there's the protagonist, a Bounty Hunter who neutralizes these pirates as part of his work, acknowledging that "these poor pirates" are just desperately seeking cash, but getting his work done anyway. While hunting down pirates is a potentially heroic act, he's Only in It for the Money.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: In the Aleste Challenge mode in Collection, it is generally much easier to get Gold Medals and Challenge Points from boss segments since they take much less time and the game gives you full firepower.
  • Hospital Epilogue: M.U.S.H.A. and GG Aleste end with Ellinor recovering in a hospital. If GG Aleste 3 is beaten on Normal, we see Luna recovering in a wheelchair and not looking the least bit amused.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Ellinor originally appeared in Aleste 2 as the main protagonist. Since then, she had also appeared as the protagonist of M.U.S.H.A. and GG Aleste and she is also set to become the main character of Aleste Branch.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The difficulty levels in Power Strike II (SMS) are Comfort, Crush, Normal, Hard, Great, and Wild.
  • Karma Houdini: In the second game, Rosa is the only surviving member of the Vagand, yet she was the one directly responsible for Ray's death. It's implied she developed a Heel–Face Turn with the death of Gaizel, as she is last seen at Ray's funeral, picking up one of the flowers.
  • Last Ditch Move: Several games have a "Special" difficulty level in which, among other things, enemies fire "revenge" bullets at you when destroyed.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Senjin Aleste breaks hard from tradition by not only using a vertical-orientation screen unlike all past Aleste games, but also being a more conventional (by 2021 standards) Bullet Hell shmup with a very involved scoring system, while past games have a very basic scoring system that is only really used for extra lives. It's also the first Aleste game to be an arcade game, with no console version known to be in the works at this time.
  • Lighter and Softer: Power Strike II (SMS), compared to the main Aleste games. There's no evil aliens trying to invade Earth; the events of the game are just another day in the work of a Bounty Hunter in an alternate timeline of The Great Depression.
  • Market-Based Title: The localization teams went out of their way to remove the Aleste branding in most export versions of the game. Aleste becomes Power Strike, Musha Aleste becomes M.U.S.H.A.note , Super Aleste becomes Space Megaforce in North America, and GG Aleste II becomes Power Strike II (sharing the name with an entirely different game within the series on the SMS). The localizations that preserve the name are Robo Aleste (and even that is still a changed title; its Japanese title is Dennin Aleste) and Super Aleste but only in Europe.
  • Mercy Mode: In Collection, one of the options in each game is Auto Rank, where the game will adjust the difficulty level based on your performance. If you are reduced to your last life, your ship's weapons will be fully powered up, and in the original Aleste your subweapon will gain infinite ammo/time until you gain back at least one spare life.
  • No Item Use for You: The Wave 5 boss in GG Aleste 3 starts by disabling your subweapon, forcing you to rely on your main shot. Fortunately you regain your subweapon when you defeat their first phase.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: A staple weapon of the series:
    • In Aleste, Weapon 4 is an orb that spins rapidly around your ship...or rather, a point a few pixels in front.
    • In GG Aleste, Defense Fire is a fireball that spins around your ship. Upgrading it adds a second fireball, and further upgrades make them fire projectiles in conjunction with your main shot.
    • In GG Aleste 2, Delta Formation consists of orbs that spin in a triangular formation.
    • Power Strike II has them not as subweapons, but a separate component of your ship. Called Spin Shields, they have their own pickups and depending on the color of Spin Shield you collect, it will have its own buff to your main shot. You can have two of them at once, and each Spin Shield can absorb a limited number of bullets.
    • In GG Aleste 3, Defense Bits are green diamond-shaped bits that spin around your ship. At max level, it consists of two bits spinning closely around your ship and two larger ones spinning at a wider radius in the opposite direction.
  • Plant Aliens: The main villains of the second game, the Vagand, consists of these.
  • Power-Up Letdown: In Power Strike II, Spin Shields come in three different color-coded varieties that augment your main shot: Red makes it more powerful, blue allows it to pierce through enemies, and yellow makes each bullet slightly wider (but not enough to make a real difference). Once you have two Spin Shields, getting a new one will overwrite the older shield. While having two yellow Spin Shields is better than none, and Spin Shields have finite durability, it can be irritating to finally get a red+blue combo...only for those shields to turn yellow either because you mistimed grabbing a cycling Spin Shield pickup or because you didn't have enough room to safely dodge a yellow pickup.
  • Recycled Premise: Zanac: A supercomputer goes rogue against humaity and it's up to a lone starfighter to destroy it. Aleste: A supercomputer goes rogue against humanity and it's up to a lone starfighter to destroy it as well as rescue his girlfriend who was taken down during a counterattack on it.
  • Recycled Title: Power Strike II refers to both the SMS game and the EU-specific title of GG Aleste II, despite both games being relatively different in lore and gameplay.
  • Retraux:
    • GG Aleste 3 goes beyond simply mimicking the limitations of the Game Gear - it's an actual, honest-to-goodness Game Gear game, similar to how M2's 2008 remake of Fantasy Zone II ran on barely-modified '80s arcade hardware. It even has its own Game Gear-styled box art.
    • Senjin Aleste's sprite-based visuals have a 32-bit Game Boy Advance look to them.
  • Scoring Points: Every game has them, but the scoring system is pretty simplistic; you gain points from destroying enemies and collecting powerup and weapon items, nothing more detailed than that. Furthermore, many of the games have ways to milk points infinitely, which is why Aleste Collection instead uses time-based leaderboards for four out of the five games in it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In GG Aleste 3, the title of Wave 3, as well as that of its background music, is "Terra Diver", the title of another game that Manabu Namiki did the soundtrack for.
    • The Final Boss of GG Aleste 3 has an attack pattern where it fires out absurdly fast bullets in a spread pattern that turns back and forth, in a manner very similar to Black Heart from Battle Garegga, which was previously ported to 8th-generation consoles by M2.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the second game, after defeating Brafnel, he tells Ellinor that her battles took place in a time bubble, and that three months have passed since then. He even tells her that Earth is now a world of fire, but Ellinor simply pumps Brafnel full of lead and kills him.
  • Single-Use Shield: GG Aleste II has the Round Field Generator and GG Aleste 3 has the G-Shield. Both activate once you collect enough power chips, and will sustain one hit before disappearing, after which you must collect more power chips to reactivate them. Note that they are irrelevant in Aleste Collection's Aleste Challenge mode; if you are hit in that mode with a shield active, it will still count a mistake and force a retry (if any are remaining) as if you got destroyed.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In Aleste 2, the music for Areas 3 and 5 is rather cheerful for an island that's turned into a slimy green alien mass.
  • Spell My Name with an S:
    • Vegant/Vagant/Vagand... Even the manual isn't sure of the right spelling.
    • The 戦刃 in 戦刃ALESTE, is romanized as "Senxin" (ergo, Senxin Aleste). Romanizing the 'じ' reading as "xi" isn't unheard of, but more conventional romanization rules would romanize it as "ji" (Senjin Aleste; Hepburn romanization) or "zi" (Senzin Aleste; Kunrei-shiki romanization).
    • Is Ellinor's last name "Waizen", "Weisen", or "Wizn"?
  • Spread Shot: Present from the original Aleste onwards, where some enemies fired a dozen-bullet spread that eventually reached both edges of the screen.
  • The Stinger: In GG Aleste 3, one of two things may happen after beating the game. On Normal, we are treated to Luna on a wheelchair looking very pissed, while on Special, we see her taking a selfie at a beach.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Ray, who was The Hero of the first game, is killed off at the beginning of the second game.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: Super Aleste and the GG Aleste series for the Super Famicom / SNES and Game Gear respectively.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: In Power Strike II, the Field portion of Stage 8 consists of a large number of support ships carrying subweapon items and shot powerup chips. This section lasts about 30 seconds before the game throws the Final Boss at you.
  • Time Trial: In Aleste Collection, the leaderboards for every game except for GG Aleste 3 rank you based on completion time (as opposed to points as is the norm for shooters, as every games in the collection beside GG Aleste 3 feature infinite pattern exploits that make it pointless to compete for score), and an elapsed time counter can be displayed at the botton of the screen in screen layouts that allow M2 Gadgets. The only time score comes into play in these four games is if you fail to complete the game, and even then the stage reached takes priority over score.
  • Title Drop: Wave 2 of GG Aleste 3 is called "Last Messiah", which is the subtitle of the game.
  • True Final Boss: Senjin Aleste has one. To reach it, you must collect all the fairies in each stage. On Original and Expert modes, however, you must not only collect the fairies, but also be at Rank 15 or higher.
  • Updated Re-release: The MSX port of Aleste adds an intro cutscene and an additional stage at the start of the game.
  • Womb Level: Plenty of these in Aleste 2.
  • You Killed My Father: The second game begins with Ray's death at the hands of the Vagand, and Ellinor must not only save the Earth by defeating the Vagand, but also avenge her father's death.

Alternative Title(s): Power Strike