The Game Tutor's Shmups Special

Over the years I have become a big fan of the shmup genre largely due to their pickup and playability. Last generation the genre got a big, if bizarre resurgence on the Xbox 360 and essentially was the only thing keeping that console going in Japan. More recently the genre has seen a mini explosion on Steam with companies like Cave and Treasure releasing games. Tonight we are going to be looking at 3 shmups recently released on Steam; classic Cave shooter DoDonPachi Resurrection, Indie shooter Blue Revolver and one button addict-em-up Switch ‘N’ Shoot.

DoDonPachi Resurrection (which translates to Angry Leader Bee Great Resurrection) is the first of the legendary Cave series to arrive on Steam and is one of the best in the series. Cave have slowly been porting their PS2 and 360 back catalogue to Steam over the past few years and finally they have started porting one of the most famous shmup series in existence.

DoDonPachi Resurrection is def an example of the Bullet Hell side of the genre. If you have never played done before then it is more like an action puzzle game which sees you avoiding patterns and waves of bullets while shooting at enemies. As with most shmups the game is short but designed to be played on progressively harder difficulties and perfected.

The scoring in the game is key, each time you kill an enemy a timer starts… kill another before the time ends and a combo gauge starts to build up. As the combo builds the score you get for each kill increases. There are also a number of ways to kill certain enemies with certain weapons to fill the hyper meter. When using your hyper weapon, the combo gauge fills super-fast and gives you extra bonuses but at the expense of increasing the game’s difficulty.

Pure Bullet Hell shmups are a very niche subgenre but Cave are experts at them and this is one of the best. I would also recommend Deathsmiles which we reviewed a few months ago.
Blue Revolver is a recently released first game by indie group Stellar Circle. It has an interesting art style and is a great shmup that in my mind incorporates the best ideas of the Cave games but also provides a lot more options and features for those that are not purely captivated by getting a higher score as well as making the game more accessible overall.

The man game sees you choose a selection of characters and weapons and head through the standard 5-6 stages in a vertical manor. The combo system is pretty cool with the combo count increasing as you kill enemies but being capped unless you use your secondary weapon to increase the multiplier. It’s a good system and one of my faves in modern shmups.

Difficulty is good and I am a particular fan of the hyper mode where the game difficulty changes to suit your ability a mechanic that seems to be cropping up more and more recently in games and is in my opinion a welcome addition. Another welcome addition is the ability to play any stage at any difficulty to practice particular sections, something I am surprised has not been in Shmups much over the years.

My personal favourite part however is the challenges that give you a specific task and set of conditions ranging from, disappearing bullets to complete the levels in 1 life. These are a fun diversion and really add to the longevity of the game.
Blue Revolver is probably the shmup I would recommend along with my personal fave Deathsmiles as a good entry point for people looking into getting into the Bullet Hell Genre.
Finally, we are going to look at Switch ‘N’ Shoot an unusual game that visually reminds me a lot of one of my personal indie faves in the last few years Downfall.

The premise is simple. Each time you fire a bullet you switch directions. And are constantly moving left or right…. Sounds simple… well it is… but the simple premise is unbelievable difficult and addictive. As you pick up powerups and upgrade your weapon you eventually can move onto a new level with harder enemies and better powerups.

What begins as a cycle of quick deaths soon becomes a “oh just one more go” addictive fest and one I found easy to put down (due to how frustrating it can be) but equally very easy to pick back up.

For only £1.99 or your regional equivalent the game is an absolute steal and one I would definitely recommend.