By Josh Speer / September 15th, 2015
|Developer||Neon Deity Games|
|Release Date||August 25th, 2015|
|Platform||PS4, Vita, PC|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone – Mild Fantasy Violence, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco|
Do you remember those crazy old games for the NES and SNES? Games like Battletoads, Clay Fighter, EarthBound, Illusion of Gaia, StarTropics and Soul Blazer, which completely immersed you in insane situations, where up was down and down was rabbit? Perhaps my favorite recent entry of this style was the WarioWare series. Famous for taking ridiculous situations and forcing players to figure out what to do in brief minigames, WarioWare was also known for its absurd sense of humor. So, when I sat down and played Shutshimi, developed by Neon Deity Games and published by Choice Provisions, I instantly realized this was the next weird game. To simplify the concept, it’s like the love child of Gradius and WarioWare. You play as a goldfish with Rambo arms who must shoot his way through hordes of aquatic foes. The catch? Well, since everybody knows goldfish have short memories (not a fact), the game plays with this premise. Every stage in the game is only a mere 10 seconds long, including boss battles. Which leads to some crazy situations, as the difficulty constantly ramps up through progressive waves. The question is, was Shutshimi the next great crazy game, or should it be flushed down the toilet?
As I established earlier, Shutshimi is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and revels in the madness that occurs. It takes every opportunity to make fun of itself and the gimmicks herein, and I couldn’t be happier with that. For example, when you select the color of your goldfish, you’ll see random arbitrary stats that pop up, such as Literacy, Fashion Sense, Dribbling or Air Guitaring. I initially thought this was code for the strengths and weaknesses of each fish, but I quickly discovered that it was a random spread that changed every time you looked at it.
Another nod to the craziness of the game is in the weapon select screen. At the end of each 10-second Wave, you have another 10 seconds to pick one of three random powerups. The tricky part is that they each have extensive descriptions, and typically give you no indication of what they actually do. You must frantically pick a random powerup, and hope it is a good one, and doesn’t give you a negative effect, such as inverted controls, invisibility or more. On the plus side, each item always gives set effects, so once you’ve learned them, you’ll know what to pick in the future. The only exception to this rule are the items that give you Hats and Suits.
Now, while Hats may look stylish, they can occasionally do more than that. For example, a shark fin hat will make enemy sharks stop attacking you, while a bunny hood will increase your speed. Hats can greatly improve your odds and change the game, but not as much as suits. Suits will often give your fishy crazy new skills, such as the Commander Video suit that lets you block incoming projectiles. These seem to be more rare to find, though, so players can’t rely on strong upgrades. The randomness just serves to make the game more of a fun challenge. One final way the game plays with you is the crazy Awardments (no, not trophies or achievements) you can unlock in the game. I won’t discuss all of them, but take a look below to get an idea.
So, now that you have an idea of the madness that occurs in Shutshimi, you’re probably wondering how it plays. Luckily, the answer to that is it plays flawlessly. You would think 10-second waves would be a snap, and they start out that way. However, the farther you go, the harder they get, introducing new enemies and throwing more concentrated waves of foes at you. This is especially evident with regard to the bosses. The first time you play through the game, you’ll face three different bosses. If you don’t beat them within the initial 10 seconds, you’ll have to fight through more waves until you face them again.
Once you defeat all three — including the monstrous Kraken — you are treated to a Victory screen. However, it quickly fades to a more ominous screen. This is the game telling you that you now have to play through it again, but with ramped up difficulty, upgraded weapons and MUCH harder versions of the three bosses. Successfully beating their upgraded forms unlocks more modes, and just adds to the overall fun. It should be noted that I only was able to beat the game on Normal difficulty. I haven’t had any such luck with the Heartless difficulty.
As far as the graphics go, I was pretty happy with the game. The overall art style is reminiscent of classic SNES games and is bright and vibrant. There is also a nice variety of enemies, from sunglasses-wearing, laser-spewing sharks to trident-hurling mermen to malicious kitties in submarines and more. The bosses, likewise, were also all distinct and menacing looking. For the music, the same basic few tracks alternate each wave, so you’ll never get too bored of how it sounds. However, I wish there was a bit more variety, musically speaking. As for the sound effects, they were all crisp and loud, which is just how I like it in my SHMUPs.
You might assume from everything you’ve read that Shutshimi is a short experience, and, while there is some truth to that, I’ve gotten a lot of replay value out of it. While it took me a couple hours to beat the harder boss gauntlet, I’ve been replaying the game over and over to try and go for a higher score and unlock all the Awardments. Due to the random nature of the game, it might take me as much as 15+ hours to fully unlock everything that Shutshimi has to offer.
For a mere $9.99, I think Shutshimi is a great bargain. It offers a game so strange that it stands out from the pack, and it’s simple nature keeps me replaying it just for kicks. Though the version I reviewed was on my Vita, the game is also available on PS4 and Steam, and will eventually make its way to other consoles. If you like crazy games or SHMUPs, or just want to take your anger out on some laser-spewing sharks, you won’t go wrong with Shutshimi. Well done, Neon Deity Games and Choice Provisions. This fish is worth keeping!
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Choice ProvisionsNeon Deity GamesShmupShutshimi