Border Down (ボーダーダウン) is a horizontal scrolling shooter arcade game created by G.rev in 2003. It is a spiritual sequel to Metal Black, a favorite game of creator Hiroyuki Maruyama. As with most other Sega NAOMI titles, the game was later released on the Dreamcast in September 2003 in two incarnations: a normal edition, and a limited edition that came bundled with a music CD and alternate cover art. Border Down was G.rev's second independent game (though they did subcontracted work on other titles, most notably Ikaruga and Gradius V), released after Sega's official discontinuation of the Dreamcast console.
In the distant future, humanity has entered a golden age and has colonized Mars. One day, contact was lost suddenly from an asteroid mining station. This was found to be caused by an invading hostile extraterrestrial force known as F.A. (First Approach ). To defend against the aggressors, the Solar System Defense Forces developed and deployed the R.A.I.N (Remote Artificial Intelligence Network), a remote guidance system for the Antares-xx, an unmanned combat vehicle.
Border Down features difficulty settings that are switched during gameplay. There are three difficulties to a level, called "borders", green being the easiest whereas red is the hardest. The green "border" is the longest variation on a level, but the enemies fire far less frequently. The red "border" is the shortest variation on a level, but the enemies fire at a frantic rate, making it increasingly more difficult to stay alive.
Instead of receiving a set number of lives, a player has the option to start on any "border" at the beginning of the game. Whenever the player dies, a "border down" occurs and the game continues onward on the next hardest difficulty. This puts increasing pressure on the player to stay on the green (easiest) border. Conversely, a player can opt to start at the red "border" for the maximum challenge. The game ends if the player dies while on the red border.
At the bottom of a screen is a laser power meter that progressively fills as enemies are destroyed. Initially the lasers are at level one and can increase up to level five.
- Forward laser: Performed by holding down the attack button, this is a strong, but narrow weapon that requires precise aiming. As the laser power increases, the width of the beam does as well.
- Homing laser: Performed by rapidly tapping the attack button, this is a wide-scoping weapon that sends pulses of lasers that home in on several targets simultaneously. This weapon does not deal as much damage as the forward laser.
- Break laser: This weapon acts as a "smart bomb" and is the key to getting high scores in the game. When triggering the laser, it will immediately consume half a bar of laser energy, and after a second the energy will start going down at the rate of one bar for about every three seconds. The break laser deals approximately twice as much damage as a fully powered laser deals at a point-blank range.
During the use of the break laser, the vessel becomes invincible and all enemy projectiles can be destroyed. Each enemy projectile destroyed by the break laser increases the hit counter by one. At the end of a level, this hit counter is multiplied by 5000 and added on to the score as a bonus. This scoring system is unique to Border Down and encourages the player to take risks. In most games, the player is usually motivated to eliminate bosses as quickly as possible, whereas the goal here is to utilize the time given to attain a higher hit count. If the player exceeds a certain score defined by levels, it can go up to a different border before the beginning of the following level.
The scoring is calculated in the following manner: points of destruction during the level + (5000 * station-wagon hit during the level) + (10000 * hit counter during the boss ) + 3.000.000 maximum (time bonus)
Although G.rev had previously produced an arcade puzzle game, Doki Doki Idol Star Seeker, Border Down was the project G.rev formed to make. Upon establishing his independent company, G.rev president Hiroyuki Maruyama lamented that he didn't have the finances to fund his vision. By doing subcontracted work for Treasure and Taito, and releasing a simple puzzle game, G.rev was able to generate the revenue needed to create Border Down.
The concept of Border Down owes much to the Taito classic Metal Black. Although many G.rev employees were formerly a part of Taito's arcade division, none of them worked on Metal Black except for composer Yasuhisa Watanabe. Rather, Maruyama was simply a big fan of this game. In an interview for French television, Maruyama said that all he wanted was to make Border Down, and if the company collapsed after this, he would have been content.
Border Down experienced moderate success in Japanese arcades, and after a few months of strong sales, a port was announced for the Dreamcast. Upon its release it received minimal press attention, with a few mixed reviews to its credit, earning a 6 out of 10 from UK magazine Edge, and an 8 out of 10 from Japanese publication Dorimaga.
Despite the late release on a "dead" platform and underwhelming critical response, Border Down quickly sold through its initial 10,000 copy print run (of which half were the "limited edition"). Shortly thereafter another 5,000 copies were pressed, and eventually sold out as well.
Since that time, Border Down's reputation with fans has grown, and it has become a hot collector's item, commonly fetching prices as high as $120 on online auctions by 2007. In response to this demand, G.rev announced in January 2008 that they would be do another print run of an undisclosed (but presumably small) number of copies for sale at the Akihabara-based retailer Messe Sanoh.
- Official Border Down website (Japanese)
- Border Down at Museum of the Game
- Border Down at GameFAQsfr:Border Down