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Much like Gradius or any other mid-80s shmup that went for broke, losing your upgrades in the middle of an advanced level will see you killed faster than a mob snitch. And Terra Cresta pauses for no man. The stages bleed into each other. Bosses come and go. If you kill them, enjoy your points and the obligatory extra life. Otherwise, they’ll retreat, robbing you of time, bullets, and dignity. Yes, in Terra Cresta, for approximately thirty beautiful seconds (and only if you collect all five upgrades), your ship transforms into a flaming dragon. And you can go forth and wreak havoc upon the orb community, and it will refresh your opinion of the game. But without the dragon and the upgrades, Terra Cresta is a bite-your-fist difficult shmup that teeters on mediocrity. Your mileage will vary.
So, like most arcade games of the 1980s, you soon realize that you are purely playing Terra Cresta for high score's sake. This is not really a problem, per se, but Terra Cresta is certainly not for everyone because of it. However, I personally like it, and this Famicom port was easily the best 8-bit conversion around in the mid-1980s.
You won't find a lot in Terra Cresta to nominate for originality, but if you want a pretty straightforward vertical shooter than this one should do nicely.