Mars Matrix: Hyper Solid Shooting
Mars Matrix: Hyper Solid Shooting (マーズマトリックス) is a vertical shooting game developed by Takumi and published by Capcom on April 12, 2000 for the CPS-2 arcade platform. It was additionally ported to the Sega Dreamcast console in 2001. Mars Matrix and Giga Wing 2 were both released in the same year.
The defining aspects of Mars Matrix are its "wide" screen resolution (compared to other vertical shooters), innovative one-button gameplay, extremely high bullet counts, unique experience system, strong soundtrack / atmosphere, and a savage difficulty right from the jump, ramping up very noticeably from Stage 2 onward and never letting up.
In terms of plot, the game's events takes place in a cyberpunk future, involving a colonized Mars revolting against Earth control. The pilot (who is un-named) and their chosen Mosquito space jet (01 or 02) is sent off to fight against Mars's attack.
Mars Matrix takes advantage of four different gameplay mechanics that are all controlled with a single button (The Button). Note that in the Dreamcast port of the game, you can set dedicated buttons for the Rapid Shot and Piercing Cannon commands, but not on the Arcade version.
|Hold down and release||
|Hold until GHB Meter is empty||
Mars Matrix utilizes an experience-based leveling system (EXP) that provides the player eight levels of strength, affecting the strength of the player's Rapid Shot. The player earns EXP through collecting gold cubes, which are generated by destroying certain kinds of enemies and certain destructible objects, or through capturing bullets with the Mosquito Barrier and flinging them into enemies or certain background objects.
When the player collects a gold cube, a small meter fills up (the amount based on the size of cube) and begins to progressively empty. While this meter is active, every cube the player collects will chain their values together -- in other words, each cube collected is worth more than the next. When the meter empties, the value of the cubes are reset to their base value.
The player's EXP is also directly tied to scoring, as the EXP applies a score multiplier to all point-gaining opportunities in the game. This makes early-game EXP collection extremely lucrative, as the player can play through the game with a powerful ship very early, which also causes all targets to become extremely high value (which enables a counter-stop in the arcade version of the game).
The Piercing Cannon is a massively powerful close-range weapon, used by tapping The Button slowly. When fired, it releases a huge persistent hitbox in front of the player's ship; this hitbox has range of about half of the screen's vertical height.
The damage output of the Piercing Cannon does not change with ship strength, but it does so much damage that it is wise to utilize frequently, especially against larger targets.
The Rapid Shot serves as the primary long-range weapon for the player, fired by tapping The Button quickly. The tapping window for activating a Rapid Shot after a Piercing Cannon is actually quite generous, so the player doesn't need to rapidly mash The Button in order to sustain rapid fire.
The strength of this weapon and the size of the bullets increases with each level up, which makes the weapon more and more powerful as the player progresses and improves their box chaining. Having a powerful Rapid Shot enables the player to use more defensive routes when they want to stay far away from dangerous targets but still deal a consistent amount of damage.
As the primary defensive mechanic, the Mosquito Barrier allows the player to hold The Button (for about half a second) to suction enemy bullets around them, and then release The Button to fling those bullets into enemies. The trajectory of reflected bullets is influenced by the player's movement before releasing The Button. The cooldown for the Mosquito Barrier is completely dependent on how long the player holds The Button before releasing it. There is a brief period of invincibility after de-activating the barrier.
Intelligent and conservative use of the Mosquito Barrier is crucial for survival even in the early game, as the game's bullet patterns are very aggressive. However, it is also essential to use for high-level scoring, as it allows a player to use long charges to generate very high numbers of cubes, or use short charges to collect cubes in small bursts -- both strategies are highly useful for keeping a box chain going and making each collected cube more valuable than the last, increasing the player's overall score gains and leveling up their ship's strength quickly.
Gravity Hole Bomb
The Gravity Hole Bomb serves as an emergency answer to overwhelming bullet counts, as it absorbs all bullets on-screen and converts them into a powerful explosive attack. This attack is used by holding The Button until the GHB meter is completely filled.
The Bomb is powerful enough to destroy most enemies that are on screen, but it has an extremely long cooldown time before the weapon can be used again. Note that Mosquito Barrier and Gravity Hole Bomb utilize the exact same resource, meaning that if the GHB Meter is recharging, the player cannot utilize Gravity Hole Bomb or Mosquito Barrier!
There are two selectable ships in Mars Matrix, each one offering a slightly different playstyle.
|MOSQUITO-01||Shot Type||Fire Power||Max Speed||Mobility|
|MOSQUITO-02||Shot Type||Fire Power||Max Speed||Mobility|
The main difference between the two ships is the shot type and the movement speed.
The 01 offers an average movement speed combined with a spread shot that fans outward from the ship, giving it good screen control and highly precise micro-movement ability, but its slower movement speed can also make it more challenging to chain together EXP cubes, and it might have to weave through tight bullet patterns without the ability to macro-dodge out of the way entirely.
The 02, meanwhile, offers a concentrated straight shot and high movement speed, allowing it the ability to efficiently move into position and consistently damage targets from any distance, as well as enabling certain cube chains that the 01 isn't fast enough to chain together, with its higher movement speed also requiring a higher degree of control from the player in order to avoid slamming into bullets.
- Primary info provided by CHA-STG
- Mars Matrix Dreamcast box art provided by Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/dreamcast/mars-matrix/cover-art/gameCoverId,115124/