Welcome, welcome, welcome to another round of indie gaming reviews from my couch to your screen!
This time around I got my hands on a copy of Shikhondo – Soul Eater from Deer Farm and Digeratti for the Nintendo Switch.
Set in the beautiful, but really bizare world of Korean mythology, this game is a pretty standard up-scrolling “bullet-hell” shooter in the style of the Raiden series. You pick one of two characters, Grim Reaper or the creatively named; The Girl, and you move them around an ever advancing screen toward masses of enemies that spew bolts, bullets and blinky things at you while you spray them with a ceaseless stream of your own energy discharge.
At first look, the game is really lovely. A soft, pastel pallet of colours is used to colour all the characters, monsters, background and side panels of the game screen. The never ending rain of bullets your enemies shoot at you scatters across the screen in different directions creating floral patterns and a nearly impossible to navigate battlefield for you to advance.
The characters and their simple animations are similarly well done and the big blasts of their fully soul charged mega attacks are all kind of pretty.
Where the game really steps it up is with the batshit crazy boss battles. I don’t know anything about Korean mythology, but whoever thought up the monster lady with the tiger butt really owes some Korean kids their nice dreams back. The bosses are huge, have two stages of life bar, and are impossible to get by without dying a few times (and that was me playing on easy!)
My gripe with the game would be that although the bosses are really crazy and each one is completely different, the rest of the game doesn’t offer nearly as much variety. Levels are non-descript, basic enemies are forgettable and my biggest complaint – you can’t upgrade your characters blasts! One of the best things about a bullet-hell game, to me, is when you reach that point where you have dodged enough and collected enough to really over power your fighter with bullets, bombs, lasers and kitchen sinks… at least until the next time you get shot down.
The music is also a little tough to sit through, it suits the game, but it sets a frantic pace that was not the rhythm I needed to get into a good groove zapping my girl along the screen.
The final word on this one for me is that Shikhondo – Soul Eater, would be a sweet diversion on my phone if I was stuck in a subway delay or long bus ride. Easy to pick up, easy to play and unlimited lives to keep me from getting discouraged. As a pick up for the Switch though, I’m not so sure. My TV is far from massive, but its big enough that having 2/3rds of it paneled out to play this game seemed like a waste. I also have lots of other options when I’m gaming at home with more depth in the first level of most than in this whole game.
Overall, if bullet-hell is your thing, this game is worth a spin but you might be better off digging up a copy of Giga-Wing or Raiden or just grabbing the latest freebie from the play store.
Til next time: bleeps and bloops ya’ll.