Virtual View

Red Alarm Review

This was the second game of the three that came with my Virtual Boy and I wasn’t expecting anything good from this game after watching AVGN’s review and looking at the games rating on some video game websites. However, after playing it, I was surprised that I enjoyed it. Let’s dive into Red Alarm, the Virtual Boy’s 3D shooter.



Red Alarm is one of the only games on the Virtual Boy to use both D-Pads. In fact, this game uses every button on the Virtual Boy’s controller. It may make the control scheme sound complex, but they’re easy to use and if not, you can always change the control set up under the options menu. You also have the option to change the camera by pressing SELECT during gameplay to one of four different spots: normal, tight, cockpit, and ¾ top. The game has a total of six stages with a boss at the end of each, and I would compare the games style to Starfox and Starfox 64.

Before you start the game you can choose what difficulty you want to play the game as in the options menu and when you start you will notice that all your stats are displayed on the dashboard around the action. Your score, fuel gauge, amount of homing missiles, boost upgrades, shield (life), and speed are shown on the dashboard. Unlike the Starfox games, you have complete freedom to move around in the stages; you can go left, right, or even back the way you came. Just be cautious of your fuel since it has to last all the way until you defeat the boss of that stage. Your health isn’t a bar in this game, but rather a number. Having 10 shields is the max and the game is even nice enough to count 00 as still alive. You won’t lose any health from running into walls, just be coming in contact with enemy fire or the enemy itself, and if that happens, you will only lose 1 shield. Getting a Game Over will result in you having to use one of your three continues and having to start all the back at the start of the stage you died at.  You have 5 speed settings:

  • [B] Backward
  • [0] Stop
  • [1] Slow
  • [2] Fast
  • [T] Turbo

Turbo is an upgrade you only get from some enemy ships you destroy, if you get hit just once while having the turbo upgrade you lose it. Destroyed enemies may also drop homing missiles, shields to increase your health, and bonus point stars which give you 3000 points.

The game has a variety enemies which range from your basic walking mech to floating hands with eyes that shoot a beam of rings at you. Needless to say with the wire frame graphics the game has you’ll be running into some weird looking enemies. Also your ship will automatically lock onto enemies if they’re close enough. Also each stage has a hidden object. For example I found a Virtual Boy system in stage 1 while playing the game for this review.


It varies a bit depending on difficulty level you choose. Playing on easy, I noticed the game picking up the difficulty around stage 4. The bosses besides stage 5 aren’t very difficult but I have trouble dodging stage 2’s boss when he charges into you. The boss of stage 5 is the most difficulty mainly because of his army of mini mechs that surround him. Level design wise, all the stages besides the end of stage 5 are fairly linear. Like I mentioned above, if you die you have to start all the way back at the start of the stage, even if you die during the boss fight.


Everything is wire frames so there isn’t a great deal of detail. There are only two colors, red and black, with no shading. The reason why the game is like this is that T&E Soft, the games developer, wanted to give the player the best 3D effects and to make sure the ship didn’t blend in with the stages. Speaking of 3D, the effect is fairly good, especially when you use the cockpit viewing mode. Compared to Starfox on the SNES, Red Alarm has a better frame-rate, more polygons, and can do more with them, but Starfox has more detail with the use of colors and rendered objects. The game has a short draw distance, but you see the enemies first so you won’t be hit by random enemy fire. I like the artwork in the games manual. T&E Soft had a great artist for this game but it’s too bad the bosses barley resemble their original designs in the game.

Left image in manual shows how the artists’ drawing looks in the game.


Each stage and boss fight has its own theme and while not much of the music from the game gets stuck in my head after playing, it doesn’t sound terrible.


Having my VB for a few months now I’m not sure how much I’ll be playing this game in the future, but with the 7 games I own so far, I play this one fairly often. If you like Starfox or any other 3D space shooters, you may like this game; just keep in mind that everything is a wire frame.


Red Alarm is an enjoyable game if you’re into smups or Starfox. The controls, even though a bit complex, won’t take long to get used to and the 3D effect is nice. If you can get past the graphics, you have a short but fun space shooter game with a large amount of music.

Red Alarm scores a 7/10 (Good). It was one of the launch title games, so it’s easy to find and shouldn’t cost a lot of money.

7 – Good: 7s are very fun games that have solid appeal. They have obvious issues that stick out, but can still be enjoyed by anyone.