Ah, the banner I've been waiting to see for a long, long while. It's been about a year since Letty hooked me on RosenkreuzStilette, and despite being absolutely terrible at classic Megaman-style games, RKS is now one of my favorites. So you can understand why I'm excited to get my hands on the demo of RKS Freudenstachel!
The demo is devoid of both prologue and story mode, instead kicking you right into arcade mode with seasoned veterans Zorne Sepperin, Grolla Seyfarth, and Liebea Palesch as your only opponents. [erka:es] promised this game would be harder than the original, and either I'm more rusty than I thought or they're right. Of course, some of this is due to the limitations of the new main character, Freudia Neuwahl herself. The most noticeable change is that you can't go through levels shooting everything all willy-nilly, since even your basic shot has ammo now. However, the Freuden Stachel does have a bit more of a vertical range on it, allowing you to hit those enemies that cling to the ground easily.
A notable change in the weapons system makes Freudia handle a lot like Zero from MMX4 onward: All the weapons, or at least all the ones in the demo, are just modifications of the same base power. They're all ice related, and one of them is a good deal more useful than the others. But that'll be later; for now, the bosses!
Liebea, one of the easiest bosses from the first game, got a major stage overhaul filled with electricity, spikes, and wind. And she's nothing to sneeze at, either; her rain attack has been augmented with a Storm Eagle-like tornado that will very easily blow you off the edge if you're not ready for it. The weapon you get from her, the Freuden Zwinger, is probably going to be the gamebreaker. Remember that attack from Freudia's boss fight where she splits into five and shoots ice at you? Of course you do. That's what you get from Liebea, and its wide area of effect makes it pretty useful. With weapon energy capsules all around, it almost feels unfair.
Zorne, in what's becoming a disturbing trend, also got a major upgrade offensively, as Kilga so kindly pointed out in the comments to the last post. The bombs come fast and furious (perhaps... 2 fast?), and coupled with her new jump kick, it's a much tougher fight. Her stage is now full of disappearing block puzzles, too, though if I know [erka:es] it's nothing compared to what Schwer-Muta's new stage will bring. The new ice technique, Friert Fackel, is nothing too impressive as a floor-clinger, but I'm sure it will have its uses.
Grolla. Grolla, Grolla, Grolla. I'll come clean and say that this is the one stage I didn't finish. The mid-boss, same as the one in the first game, is modified with moving platforms, and that's about as far as I got. I told you I was terrible at these games. So I can't give much insight on this stage, but it's pretty obvious that if [erka:es] is going for hard, they've succeeded.
Even if I couldn't beat one of the levels, I still thoroughly enjoyed the demo and will be waiting with bated breath for the full game to come out. It's a solid follow-up with even more of the references to Megaman that we've all come to know and love. And speaking of things we've all come to know and love, well, it wouldn't be RKS without custom Game Over screens, would it? And trust me, I saw them a lot.
Maybe those among you who can actually read Japanese will find them funnier. But at any rate! Judging by the demo, RKS Freudenstachel will be worth the wait, and hopefully summer 2009 won't turn into "when it's done". I know I'll be on the edge of my seat. In the meantime, be sure to try your hand at Challenge 02, which right now is looking pretty lonely with only two participants.