SHMUP of the Shogun
Sometimes you just need to hop in a spaceship and blast stuff to bits. The shmup (or shoot ’em up, if you’re feeling nasty) genre of games has been a staple of video games since the early days of the arcades with games such as Namco’s Galaxian and Capcom’s 1943, to more recent titles like Cave’s manic Bullet Hell shooters Ibara, Espgaluda, and Death Smiles. Few genres can top the feeling of elation that comes with falling into a shooting trance, dancing in and out of patterns of hundreds of glowing bullets while you blast your airborne baddies to bits. Fans of the beloved genre are hard-pressed to find their shooter fix on Anroid and iOS devices, but developer int13 has tried with their debut shooter- Shogun: Rise of the Renegade. Is int13’s shooter masterful trip to Bullet Heaven, or does it crash and burn? Read on to find out.
Shogun: Rise of the Renegade is a top-down vertical Bullet Hell shooter very similar to offerings from the fabled shmup developer Cave. The game’s 4 levels take you from the frozen wastes of Greenland, soaring over the magma-filled scars of a smouldering Peru, blasting foes in the dusty ruins of Kazakhstan and finally to the neon lit skies of New Tokyo. Every stage is filled with tons of enemies, from your typical popcorn craft that take a shot or two to blast to bits, to some more devilish sub bosses that feature intricate bullet patterns and a variety of attack types meant to swat your flying crimson deathmachine from the sky. If you make your way through these flying menaces you’ll go mano a mano with a hulking boss that has plenty of health and even more bullets to spare. Some of these bullet patterns end up filling all but the tiniest spaces on the screen with pulsing neon firepower as you dodge and weave your way through the chaos and onward toward victory.
The game’s default control scheme takes a little getting used to. You touch the screen to maneuver your craft as it spews hot wads of supercharged death steadily, no virtual button pressing required. Taking your finger off of the craft brings up a weapon menu which also slows down time significantly, allowing you to choose one of your 3 weapons on the fly. That’s right, no power ups needed, you have your full arsenal available any time. Weapons range from your typical focused laser blasts, a homing attack, and spread shot. You can also use this menu to supercharge your weapons, adding a significant damage boost at the expense of one health capsule. The controls take some getting used to and can at times be cumbersome, namely because it’s quite difficult to see past your hand when the hail of bullets becomes overwhelming. Playing on an iPad with a large surface area it can be difficult to maneuver your craft across the screen without inadvertently taking your finger off the sprite, creating an unwanted pause in the action. Frankly, this is the least ideal way to play, but the game does support bluetooth controls as well. I played the game through with Ion Audio’s iCade cabinet and found the game offered a much better experience, and the added touch of manually firing your shots and having a button to swap weapons made the game 100% more enjoyable.
While the game’s controls performance is debatable, there’s no arguing about the game’s vibrant visuals and thumping sounds. Every stage is bright and colorful with high-resolution graphics and well-crafted enemy sprites. The screen becomes completely filled with ships, shots, and explosions that rain down debris and not once does the frame rate stutter. Int13 has crafted a truly good looking game that runs exceptionally well. The music is also excellent, featuring a cool electro vibe that offers the perfect soundtrack for flying low over a war-torn landscape, turning your flying enemies into smouldering scrap metal.
Shogun: Rise of the Renegade is a definite must-play game for any fan of the shmup genre. You can download the game for free on the Android and iOS app stores. The free download gives you access to the first level, but you can unlock each additional stage for a measly .99 cents, or download the full game for two dollars. While the game’s controls may take a little getting used to, those with an iCade or other quality bluetooth controller owe it to themselves to check out this satisfyingly challenging pocket-sized portion of bullet hell. You won’t regret it.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: iOS, Android (Reviewed), Developer: int13 ; Publisher: int13; Players: 1