Wednesday, April 7, 2010

AA Look - Castle of Shikigami 3

If you're the kind of person who hates the fourth wall this is the game for you. Shikigami 3 breaks the fourth wall at every opportunity with it's absolutely nonsensical storyline and a cast of characters more concerned about everything going on on the other side of the TV screen. Just to give an idea the first boss frequently complains when certain characters are used. One character has a friend he summons for his "shiki attack". The boss says something to the effect of "You can't do that! This is the one-player mode!"

So yeah if you're the kind of person who determines replay value through cutscenes, in-jokes, and a host of anime stereotypes arguing with each other this is your game. If you want a decent 2D shooter this might be your game as well. It's five stages broken into three acts apiece and all of them end with a multi-form boss. The level designs are very plain but that matters little when the focus is on staying close to bullets and mastering the shiki attack to get massive amounts of points.

This is one of those games where buzzing, scratching, or whatever the heck people call it is implemented. If bullets are close by the player's regular weapon doubles in power and depending on their proximity when a shiki attack is performed a hefty multiplier can be attained. Shiki attacks are special weapons and all of the characters have two to choose from. Some are much easier to use than others while some are best for only a handful of situations. The weaknesses must be made up for by the skill of the player or else all is lost.

Once you get a grasp of the basics the level design is really quite easy to figure out. Enemies of varying shapes and sizes appear and get destroyed. The bosses provide a good balance between large objects and human-like foes with lots of moving around. Unfortunately there's a bit of a balance issue in that the final boss of the fourth stage happens to be the hardest in the game. Still at least on the default setting and depending on the character this isn't that hard of a game. Course one has to wonder why the character balance is all over the place. Some characters require a bit of skill to use effectively while others function perfectly if all the player did was fall asleep on the fire button.

Still it's all in fun as this is the kind of shooter that doesn't take itself or the genre seriously and still manages to be pretty entertaining. It's also dirt-cheap which isn't exactly common when it comes to the genre and you could always do worse.

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