From its July 1992 release, Masaya's Gleylancer didn't initially shine as a single player shoot-'em-up. It received a mixed reception, with Issue 2 of Mean Machines SEGA magazine describing it as unoriginal and tedious in a 48/100 scoring review. For years Gleylancer was more renowned for its reputation as an expensive collectible game, with even its recent reprint shooting up in price. It was thanks to a Virtual Console release that shmup fans became more appreciative of its solid gameplay.
Set in the year 2025, you control Ensign Lucia Cabrock as she pilots the Advanced Busterhawk Gleylancer to rescue her father from invaders attacking the peaceful Earth Federation. What some view as generic, others will see as an homage to classic horizontal shooter design, as blasting away pink scenery is reminiscent of Salamander. Similarly, there's a warship stage like in R-Type, and narrow passages harken back to Scramble – as the Mega Drive's Yamaha YM2612 blasts out catchy Stage 4 music to accompany your tunnel dodging.
With an upbeat soundtrack overall, quickening the movement speed of Lucia's CSH-01-XA prototype ship along with the frantic music keeps the gameplay feeling frenzied. It's especially gratifying that developer Shinyuden included a Modern gameplay mode where you use the right stick to aim power-ups — via the Gunner System invented by Doctor Gley – in a similar way to how we praised adding twin stick controls to Forgotten Worlds in Capcom Arcade Stadium.
Released in Japan in the same month as Thunder Force IV, when magazines felt fatigued with an overabundance of Mega Drive shmups, Gleylancer became hidden behind the likes of Gaiares, Gynoug, Hellfire, and Zero Wing as competition. Yet, it could attract attention today, since using the Rewind feature to complete 11 stages in less than an hour snags easy Platinum Trophies on both PS4 and PS5. Once precious trinkets have been grabbed it's most fun to practice each stage using save states to improve your skills, and see how far you can legitimately progress. Gleylancer deserves better than to become lost again, as just another Ratalaika Games easy Platinum release.