Twinstick SHMUP. D-pad moves, face buttons shoot in their direction. Even if you use the left stick and right stick instead, you can still only move/shoot in 8 directions. It starts off slow, only three enemy types, but it also eases you into what sets the game apart from other SHMUPs: you can shoot enemy shots, though they cancel out yours. Still, even by the first level, you’ll start to notice cheap stuff since enemy shots can slip directly between your twin-shots and hit you, and the enemies that spawn from the bottom still spawn without warning. Level 2 introduces a giant damage-sponge enemy while also introducing parts where you have to kill a specific enemy to progress the stage. When encountering the damage-sponge enemy in all other scenarios, there’s absolutely no way you’ll be able to kill it before it walks away, even if you focus fire on it. This level also ends in a boss, who goes offscreen and comes in from random sides of the screen while flinging bullets everywhere. I first died here, and when I respawned, it was under the boss without any fanfare so it took me a bit to even realize it happened (getting your ship hit also doesn’t draw attention to itself). By level 3, you’ll notice that the enemies you’ve been fighting are starting to move faster, but that’s not the only thing that’ll increase the difficulty since enemies also start spawning from the left and right (even though the screen is very tall and narrow). The game also starts spawning more enemies that take several hits to kill, and spawning more of them at once, but since you shooting their shots cancels both bullets, it’ll take much longer than you’d think to take them out, even after you figure out you can hit the L button to use a bomb (doesn’t screen-clear, just damages, and you only have 2 max). Level 4 goes a bit further and has many parts where a bunch of several-hits-to-kill squids spawn from both left and right. The boss, a giant squid, has little squids surrounding it like a shield, and when you kill all of them, the giant squid shoots large, superfast lasers at you that you can only dodge if you were already moving (and even then, it’s a toss up). Yup, can’t shoot these lasers down; way to ruin your whole gimmick, game. Level 5 might be the introduction of the little walking ships that shoot several shots directly at you (rather than straight ahead of them), but even if they were introduced earlier, this is definitely the level where two of them spawn from opposite ends of the screen and shoot you at the same time, making me convinced the game has unavoidable damage. The level 6 boss is a spiderbot that not only shoots the unshootable large lasers while it moves (the squid would stop for a split second at least), but also hops directly onto you a few times before going back to its normal pattern, and of course it moves faster than you. Ironically, the level 8 boss tones things down by just having it spin saws around itself and slide around the arena. Sure, its landmines shoot projectiles even faster than the large lasers, but I never got hit. Level 9 was where I first got game over (you can only see your lives left if you look in the upper-left corner when you respawn from death), and that’s where I learned you have to start the whole level over if that happens. After two game overs on level 10, which is even more spammy than earlier levels, I gave up.
Not recommended. Games like this make me wonder if I actually even like SHMUPs and I’ve just been extremely unlucky, or if it’s all Gradius III/Guerilla War nostalgia.