Assault Suit Leynos

A game by Dracue Software for PC and PS4, originally released in 2016.
In the year 2101, Earth sends a Space Exploration Team to search for other intelligent life in the universe. However, not long after their departure, war breaks out on Earth, and the resources once allocated to the project are diverted in favor of manufacturing nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the Space Team runs into trouble, but their distress calls to Earth are ignored as a nuclear war is already underway.

After the war ends, the Earth once again returns to a state of peace and prosperity, and humanity expands to colonize the other planets in the solar system… until Ganymede suddenly comes under attack!

The Space Exploration team, taking it as an affront that their cries for help were ignored, has decided to attack the colonies and take Earth for themselves.

Calling themselves Chron, their forces include cybernetically-enhanced human clones formed from the surviving crew members. You play the role of Rex, commander of an Assault Suit, a 12-foot tall battle mech that is the Earth Defense League’s primary tool in the defense of its colonies.

Assault Suit Leynos is a remake of the original game of the same name from NCS Corporation / Masaya, released in 1990 for the Sega Genesis, which arrived in the US as Target Earth. The game is part of the Assault Suit series, which includes several loosely-related titles, only two of which were released in the US: Target Earth and Cybernator.

The full series includes:
  • Assault Suit Leynos (a.k.a. Target Earth)
  • Assault Suit Leynos 2 (Japan only)
  • Assault Suits Valken (a.k.a. Cybernator)
  • Assault Suits Valken 2 (Japan only)
The remake was developed by doujin studio Dracue, known for their work on the 2009 mech game, Gunhound (a.k.a. Kisou Ryouhei Gunhound) – which was heavily inspired by the Assault Suit Series – and its updated remake, Gunhound EX which came to the US in 2014.

The new Assault Suit Leynos title includes two modes: Arcade and Classic. The Classic mode is based very closely on the original 16-bit title and is practically identical to the Genesis game, save for the softer hand-drawn HD visuals when compared to the chunky pixel art of the original. The mission structure is identical, including eight missions that begin with the attack on the Ganymede colony and end with the player infiltrating the Chron flagship.

The game’s introductory sequence is virtually identical to that of the original game, including not only the same cinematics and text scroll, but also replicating the style of the screen transitions and the timing… and this is true of the ending sequence as well. Level layouts closely approximate the original game as well - although more enemies appear onscreen - and the dialogue sequences are very similar. Even the weapons are the same, and carry the same names, and the player is able to select up to six weapons at the start of each mission – with a preview showing how each of them works – including optional armor, shield, and jetpack-assisted jump pack, and new weapons are unlocked when missions are completed with a high ranking.

The Classic mode is meant to be an updated version of the original experience and promises a similar level of difficulty, although the inclusion of infinite continues does remove some of the challenge. It is very much possible for expert mech players to complete the entire game in a single sitting, possibly on their first attempt.

The Arcade mode is somewhat of a remixed experience, offering the same locales and mission structure, but with some changes, as well as fully-voiced dialogue (in Japanese). This mode is meant to be somewhat easier – although the final level is actually more difficult than that of the Classic mode – and includes a few new enemy types and a couple of new boss encounters. Additionally, this mode is much more cinematic, moving the camera and zooming in to display the introduction of new characters and enemies.

Per genre standards – which the original game helped to establish – you pilot a heavily armored lumbering mech that clangs around the environment at a slow speed. The mech has a 2x variable jump, and a reusable jetpack-assist that slowly extends this to 3x, with the mech slamming back to the ground once it runs out.

By default, the mech is equipped with three weapons: an infinite ammo machine gun with a long reload time, a limited ammo shotgun, and a limited ammo heavy weapon that lobs three projectiles into the air which fall down while exploding to cause continuous heavy damage, making them useful for large enemy ships.

The player can aim and fire in any direction, and unleashing continuous fire causes the mech’s aim to lock in place (which may be disabled in the Options menu). A new addition to this version of the game is the ability to lock the mech’s arm in place regardless of whether or not its weapons are firing, allowing players to target enemies above and below the mech with much greater ease than in the original game, thereby reducing the difficulty level that came from a more cumbersome control setup.

The mech can dash quickly along the ground for as long as the player likes with a jetpack assist. It has the ability to cause melee damage with a slow punch, and it can pull up a shield to block any incoming projectiles. Of note, however, is that the shield is an optional piece of equipment and takes up one of the mech’s six weapon slots. Players who are willing to sacrifice some defensive strength may opt to unequip the shield in favor of additional weapons.

In fact, much of the game’s strategy boils down to outfitting the mech properly before each mission, and new weapons are unlocked upon completing them, each offering a limited ammo capacity, aside from the infinite ammo machineguns. These additional weapons range from lobbed grenades to fast-moving rockets to lasers to heat-seeking missiles. In general, most small- and medium-sized enemies are readily dispatched with the machinegun, so explosive weapons are best held for large ships and boss encounters.

Players may quickly cycle through their equipped weapons, each of which shows the remaining ammo. To avoid running into situations where players may accidentally select an empty weapon, double-tapping the FIRE button causes the weapon to be discarded (but is retained in inventory for the next mission). Double-tapping with the infinite ammo machinegun allows for a manual reload.

The mech’s health refills automatically after a few seconds of avoiding damage (as it did in the original), and players can also equip armor pickups, each of which offers a full health recharge upon the meter’s depletion, effectively acting as an instant 1UP. But again, each of these armor items uses up a slot that could otherwise carry a weapon... For longer missions against heavily armored foes, it’s advisable to keep a healthy stock of explosive weapons on-hand to avoid running out of ammo and reverting to the weaker machinegun.

For players who have not previously experienced a mech game, a tutorial is available with three practice levels, demonstrating the mech’s movement abilities and some of the basic weapons. Additional weapons may be unlocked over time in the Practice mode by playing any of the levels (including the tutorial). The player’s cumulative score acts as an experience system, slowly allowing access to numerous unlockables. Unlocks include a laser sight for the mech’s weapon, a jump gauge, classic sound effects for weapons, and even the original game’s BGM, which is one of the first unlocks.

Many of the eight levels are extremely short, and it is possible to dash and boost-jump your way past most of the weaker enemies in order to reach primary targets (and earn a lower score)… or you can stick with your Assault Suit squad and slowly march forward with the aid of their additional firepower. Infiltration missions are a bit longer and involve completing an outdoor section and then moving inside of an enemy base or ship, with a checkpoint activated at the transition. These interior areas consist primarily of weak stationary turrets and electrical hazards on the floor, with the occasional enemy mech worked into the mix. Here again, players may choose to engage or simply boost their way past most of these obstacles on their way to the boss.

Some levels have secondary objectives, such as defending cargo transports or your home base. One such mission involves coming to the aid of a squad mate. This is a zero gravity mission that takes place in low Earth orbit and features the player fighting off a cluster of enemies in order to defend the allied command ship as it prepares to enter the atmosphere. The player is given a countdown to reenter the ship before it descends, and he may opt to continue fighting to assist the team and destroy the remaining enemies, or return to the ship and wait out the timer. If he returns to the ship without defeating all of the enemies, his squad mate is unable to return to the ship on time and burns up as he reenters the atmosphere, and this impacts the events of a later level as well.

Players may revisit any previously completed level, and progress is recorded separately for the Classic and Arcade modes. Additionally, a Data Room is available with concept art and scans of the original game’s instruction manuals.

Assault Suit Leynos was developed by doujin studio Dracue, based in Osaka, Japan and founded in 2006. The studio previously released the mech game, Gunhound (a.k.a. Kisou Ryouhei Gunhound), and its updated remake, Gunhound EX.

The original game and its sequel were developed Masaya Games, also known for their work on Langrisser, Cho Aniki, and Assault Suits Valken (a.k.a. Cybernator), among others. The updated remake was published by Rising Star Games, publisher of many games over the preceding decade.