Nebula’s Ray – Arcade Review

Each week for our gaming group we are playing an arcade game that we have never heard of. When I have time I will do a write up on a few of them. This week is Nebula’s Ray.



Nebula’s Ray was released by the arcade giant Namco in 1994. There is virtually nothing about this game online which makes it the perfect candidate to play. It is a top-down shooter aka shmup and uses the Namco NB-1 arcade system board. While it is not quite a “bullet hell” it does have a lot on the screen going on at one time. I define bullet hell as having so many bullets that you are basically carving a path through the empty space, which is definitely not the case with Nebula’s Ray.

Graphics / Sound

Graphically, Nebula’s Ray shines and you can really tell it is using 90s arcade tech. The pseudo 3D looks damn amazing and makes this game a joy to look at. Paralax scrolling is done and at the peak of perfection. The thing about all of this graphical gorgeousness is that it can be a bit distracting at times, which might not be the case for everyone. Also, the bullets are not distinguishable enough for my tastes, but is not as convoluted as other games I have played (*cough the original Last Hope cough*). Basically, expect a few cheap deaths, which is synonymous with pretty much all arcade games anyhow. The sound is standard shmup fare but really gives you a sense of reality with the huge explosions. The soundtrack is excellent with many memorable tracks; which was also saw a soundtrack CD release in Japan.


Controls and Fun

The controls are solid and responsive, however it was mentioned during our play through that it was a bit “laggy”. Now this could be due to the extreme insanity that was going on at the time or due to the fact that my computer is an artifact. I didn’t notice the lag until a few levels later, however it is something that I feel can be gotten used to as it is not like the enemies are moving much quicker as in other games. This type of enemy to player speed ratio makes Nebula’s Ray a very fun game to play. It might be the most fun I’ve had with an arcade shooter since Salamander 2.

Multiplayer Options and Challenge

There is 2 player coop in Nebula’s Ray which is pretty much a standard for arcade shooters. Might as well milk double the amount of coins right? Since we have multiple people over on our gaming night we just alternated per level. As for challenge, the game offers a decent ramp up in difficulty as you progress through the levels. However, this difficulty is mitigated through the readily available infinite quarters. Of course this would have been a different story if were were on the actual arcade machine.



Overall, Nebula’s Ray is a solid 90s top down shmup with exceptional graphics and decent play controls. It offers coop gameplay with a difficultly that gently eases you into the fray. I am pretty sure this game has not been released on a console and definitely not out of Japan if it has. Nebula’s Ray is a gem of a game so give it a shot next time you are looking for a random arcade treat to enjoy.



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