I'm a huge fan of SHMUPS, but not SHMUP
!! Warning !!
!! Warning !!
!Gigantic Review Incoming!
The graphics are nice. The ships are fairly detailed, the backgrounds are well done, and visually the game seems complete. It was a little disappointing that no matter which gun I had equipped, I looked more or less the same. Only real complaint would be the screen shake effect, it was too prevalent and made gameplay a bit annoying at times. Still a minor issue.
The music, while repetitive, wasn't ever annoying. The sound effects were familiar but fitting. Overall it reminded me of other SHMUP games I had played.
The gameplay was solid, although quite stale by the end. While the enemies themselves were fairly standard, there was a bit of ingenuity shown in level design. I especially liked the 'herding' of the player in the Erebus(sp?) area. However, the fact that sometimes the same (visually) ship would use different attacks, was quite annoying. Try giving visual queues to the player about different attack patterns, such as color variants or even size changes.
I was greatly GREATLY disappointed by the boss battles. The first boss took my enthusiasm for this game from around 80%, to around 25%. The second boss was a little better, but not much. Most of my complaints, however, are against the Erebus boss. This gigantic drill Bit%^ was the first boss I died against. I felt like I just had to play it through 2 or 3 times to learn the pattern, rather than have top notch skill.
I think that really the way to sum up my dislikes for the game, would be to talk about the shop system. Don't get me wrong, when upgrades were first introduced to SHMUPs, it was a great day in history. However, since then there have been countless SHMUPs that have pointless and grindy shops. The upgrades in "SHMUP" felt like passive upgrades rather than shiny new toys. As if this wasn't apparent enough, there is literally a grindy passive upgrade system called XP. Wait, XP? In a SHMUP? For tiny percentage upgrades? Oh no, a dark day for this game player. It encourages players to fail repeatedly without analyzing their strategy or rethinking how they come at the level. It encourages players to just sit secure in the knowledge that they always get a little closer to winning. However, for those of us who don't need security from percentiles, it feels like our skill has a lesser impact on victory. Especially in the 4th zone, there were a few times I felt like I simply didn't have enough shields to get through the level. It was as if it was impossible to dodge everything. I felt as if I needed to grind XP on earlier levels to get my passive bonuses high enough to win.
That's when the fun stopped for good.
Although it is overall an impressive game, containing not only great visuals but also diverse enemy patterns, ultimately it fell flat on the Core mechanics (That I feel) are behind the SHMUP genre.
Skill Intensive Gameplay!
This game actually did amazingly well with everything that is usually behind the scenes and underdeveloped. Things like graphics that were never high priority, this game did very well.
Overall, it's a well crafted game. I obviously was entertained by it, as if I wasn't I wouldn't have played it through. It's no comparison to the greats (Raiden, Strikers 19xx) but it's better than the average fare of NG (in terms of SHMUPs). Seems like with a little bit of work, you could patch up the upgrades (diversify gameplay!) and intensify the boss battles (think transformations!) and you would have one kick-ass game.
7/10 stars for doing most of the game right, but missing the critical details.
I'd suggest looking at something like Flatzone3 or RoboBombo for some good free SHMUPs, maybe something'll inspire you.
Good work and Good luck,