Welp, I gave Overcooked 1 a chance, but it turns out that even though you can’t throw items like in its sequel, there are still several maps where the kitchen gets split, trapping your chefs on one side or the other. This means there’s way more waiting in this game, and I gave up in world 3 out of boredom.
So I moved onto my next game. I was originally planning on playing them in order, but after playing this piece of crap, I realized that wasn’t a good idea. It does mean I won’t be able to compare the game to its predecessors since I haven’t played any of them (except Raiden Trad for SNES, though I never beat that game due to it having limited continues).
SHMUP. You can move in the 8 cardinal directions, you shoot up by holding the shoot button, and you have the standard screen-clearing bombs (3 by default, but it can be changed in the options). You have three ships to choose from: slow+strong, fast+weak, and normal. Then, you choose one of three weapons for each of the three colors: in-game, when the weapon icon spawns, waiting will have it switch between the three colors, and collecting the same color as the weapon you currently have will power up said weapon (and getting a different color will swap your weapon, which is the only way you can swap weapons). Each of your three weapons have their own power meter, so you have to power them up individually as well; your power level won’t carry over between weapons like in Raiden Trad.
I chose the strong ship, foolishly thinking that the game would be designed around its slowest option. My first clue should’ve been the difficulty selection, which outright tells you that their difference is projectile speed (faster on harder modes, slower on easier). Still, I chose normal mode, and for the first couple stages, it’s not too bad. The first purple weapon will do and maintain some crazy loops when you hit an enemy, which can lead to other enemies being obscured by it (so their shots seemingly appear without warning), but the shots move slow enough that you’ll still have enough time to avoid them.
I first started to notice issues around level 2’s boss. Notably, it will toss out some smaller, grey enemies that’ll shoot rapidly in seemingly random directions. It took a moment for me to realize that they had blue gun barrels on them to indicate which way they’ll shoot. Although the blue gun barrels don’t exactly blend into the grey body of the enemies, it’s something you won’t notice if you don’t know to look for it. This kind of issue is present throughout the game; like, sure, the green tanks are a different color than the grey asphalt, but they’re both rather muted shades, so when the tank moves out from behind the building, you won’t notice it while you’re shooting down the planes on the other side of the screen.
However, all of that could arguably be my fault. Unfortunately, the game goes a step further and has blue projectiles against a blue background as early as the boss of level 3, and those projectiles also move rather fast. Then there are the grey turrets on the grey background in level 5, where you can only really see the shading on their outline. There are even yellow projectiles, which will be nearly impossible to see against a bright background of any color, so naturally the game combines the two. Oh, but there’s a different type of yellow projectile that you can actually shoot and destroy, and of course they get introduced first so the indestructible yellow projectiles can further blindside you. The game’s standard projectile color is red, by the way.
And then there’s the projectile speeds. Although it starts fine, it gets to the point where the slowest ship has no chance at avoiding damage, and there are times where I’m convinced that not even the fastest ship could get around them in time. It’s like a bullet hell: the only way to avoid getting hit is either to get lucky or to memorize where the bullets will go through trial and error. The final boss even combines these blindingly-fast projectile speeds with the yellow-projectiles-on-bright-background issue (and remember, this is on normal mode).
All that said, the game still has the typical SHMUP/Bullet Hell continue system: when you get game over and retry, you’re spawned right were you died; between that and the game’s infinite continues, you’ll be able to beat the game no matter how bad you are. It does have a “health” bar instead of a usual lives system, but you also get game over as soon as it runs out, so it basically plays out the same as a traditional lives system (you can even increase how much health you have in the options, just like how you could change your number of lives in other games).
As a side note, if you look at the stage select, you’ll see that most levels have different versions. There aren’t any split paths like in Blast Wind, but you can intuit that the version of the stage you end up in is based on how many enemies you killed because of how often the voiceover criticizes you for daring to focus on not-dying. However, what I want to point out is that one of those lines of dialogue mentions something about the enemies learning and sending data back if you let them pass; does that mean the game has reverse dynamic difficulty, and the game gets harder if you do worse???
Overall, this one’s hard to recommend. There’s some SHMUP fun in here, but the hard-to-see enemies and the too-fast-to-react projectiles that show up every now and then bring down the experience. Wait for a good sale.
EDIT: Apparently there are achievements for beating bosses that I didn’t get even though I beat the game on normal mode. Not sure if that’s the game’s fault or if Steam is being iffy (not the first time it took a while to update my achievements).