|Ghost Blade HD
|February 28th, 2017
|Shoot em up
|Wii U, PC, Ps4, Xbox One
Developer Hucast Games attempted to keep the Dreamcast relevant among hardcore fans by continuing to develop and release games for it long after SEGA stopped officially supporting the console. Ghost Blade was one of the more recent releases back in 2015. Now here we are two years later, and Hucast has decided to bring their game to a wider audience in Ghost Blade HD promising HD graphics, online leaderboards and achievements. While Ghost Blade HD technically does the job, it doesn’t quite stand out too much from the crowd when compared to all the other shooters we have access to today.
Ghost Blade HD tells the story of a 10,000 year old artificial intelligence known as Shira that became corrupt and started terrorizing Mars. The residents of the planet call for the Earth Defense force (NOT THAT ONE) to give them a hand in fighting this entity. The EDF (still not the same thing) sends one of their bravest pilots out to fight the Evil Shira and save the day. That pilot is one of three nameless heroines each with their own unique firepower. She will fight her way across 5 stages and hopefully save the universe!
Being a vertical shoot-em-up, Ghost Blade HD lets you change the orientation of the screen. Vertical shoot-em-ups are typically played in “Tate” mode which usually involves flipping the screen on its side so you can get a better view of the action. What is particularly cool about the Wii U version of Ghost Blade HD is that off-screen play is actually compatible with Tate mode. That means you can rotate the Wii U Gamepad on its side and play the game with a Wii mote or other controller. The game actually plays really well like this despite some small fonts for the score or achievements. Also be sure to keep the Gamepad in place while playing to prevent any disasters mid-gameplay. Sadly this is probably the most exciting thing about Ghost Blade HD. It’s not a bad game per se, but it is just too standard for its own good. Nothing in the levels really stood out to me. The enemy types and backgrounds felt like nothing I have not already seen before in similar games. The art style is fitting for Ghost Blade HD but I can’t help but feel disappointed by how limited the artwork is considering how detailed the main heroines are. It would have been nice to see more original artwork bring more life to the game especially since this is a “HD” re-release.
You will fly through 5 stages filled with your typical “Popcorn” fleets and a big boss at the end, but unfortunately it all blends together too much and ends up being fairly unmemorable. Your ship is equipped with a rapid fire shot that can hit a wide area and a more focused shot that is good when targeting bosses but your ship will move slower when firing. There is a basic scoring system with a multiplier that increases as you defeat enemies quickly and without getting hit. The bosses have very tame patterns considering the kind of game this is. As a result, the difficulty is fairly low making this a good choice if you want a simple game to help introduce you to the genre. To further prove this, I was able to complete the Easy mode on one credit during my first playthrough. The music in the game is good for what it is, lots of nice techno beats but nothing that you will find yourself humming after the fact. There is some replay value in the form of a Hard mode, some achievements, 2-player co op and a score attack mode. The Score attack mode is actually pretty fun as it just throws you into the action and your only goal is to get as high of a score and multiplier as possible by the end of a single level.
All in all, Ghost Blade HD is good enough but there is nothing about it that will make me pick it over games like Mushihimesama, Danmaku Unlimited 2 (or 3), or Caladrius Blaze. All of those games offer what this does and more. Though to be fair, none of the games I just mentioned were released on Wii U so there is not much to really compare Ghost Blade HD to when judged based on that particular console. I guess if you REALLY want to play a shooter on the Wii U without having to track down the now uncommon copies of Castle of Shikigami III or Ultimate Shooting Collection, Ghost Blade HD would be a decent choice for the $9.99 asking price. Just remember that this title is also on PC and PlayStation 4. Both of those platforms are home to far stronger titles in the genre.
Review copy provided by publisher