Shutshimi Review

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Title: Shutshimi
Developer: Choice Publishing
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 176 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Currently Unavailable
PSTV Support:  Yes

Let’s talk about shoot-em-ups today.  The PS Vita has some and I’ve reviewed some of them.  PlayStation Mobile had them as well, when it was around.  Its legacy is also on the Vita and PS4 in the form of Aqua Kitty DX.  Another PS Vita shoot-em-up I can think of is Flying Hamster HD.  Another example is Resogun, which started on the PS4 and then came over to the PS Vita later on.  Those are the only games I can think of, for the moment.

These are all one type of 2D shoot-em-ups, though.  One type that I haven’t gone into is the randomized shoot-em-up genre.  Flying Hamster HD was a fun game, but it was all pre-set.  You knew exactly what to do in every stage as you went through the game.  Randomization can add another level of fun to the genre, pitting you in levels where you won’t be able to memorize every little detail and enemy formation throughout.

The review I have for you today is going straight into that type of game.  I’ve been working on this review for some time now, but I’ve finally done enough to be able to give you my complete thoughts.  Here is my official review of the PS Vita and PSTV version of Shutshimi!


Story

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This game doesn’t have very much of a story.  Like my last review, Shutshimi gives you the basic layout of the story before you’re thrown into the game.  You play as a unique fish whom is fighting off invaders that came into his home land.  This fish is unique because it’s a fish that smokes and has huge muscle-filled human-like arms on either side of him.

That brings up the comedy factor.  The entire game is filled with parodies to everything you can think of, and really takes a funny spin on things.  Your fish already has buff human arms, and it only gets funnier from there as you can see all the dialogue and power-ups.

Gameplay

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Shutshimi is a 2D shoot-em-up game with randomized levels.  There are a few little timer-based puzzle elements thrown into the mix, but all in all, it’s a shoot-em-up as fitting to define the genre as any other game.  It doesn’t dive into elements from a bunch of other genres like some other games have done in the past.

When you first start the game, you have access to the Tutorial as well as Easy and Normal Modes.  The first thing to do is play Normal, though.  The Easy difficulty limits how many bosses you see and you can’t get any of the in-game awards if you go through that mode.  Aside from these, there’s also Hard Mode and Boss Rush Mode.  Hard is unlocked by getting the Pacifish award and you unlock enemies for Boss Rush as you find them in the normal game mode.

When you go through the game, your goal is to go from wave to wave, fighting enemies and trying your best not to lose your lives and get a Game Over.  Get hit once and you lose a life, so it’s important to get hit as little as possible if you want to get far enough to see all the bosses and beat the game.

The randomization comes into effect in the waves as well as the shop.  Each wave is randomized, so you may not get the same enemies on Wave 5 your first try as you will on your next few tries.  The biggest random element is the shop.  Whenever you beat a wave, you are taken to the shop and given 3 random elements you can buy within about 8 seconds.  Each of these will affect your game in various ways.

The random elements can give you good enhancements or make it harder for you.  Some of them give you weapons to use or decrease your size so it’s harder for enemies to hit you.  Others will give you negative effects, from inverted controls and upside-down gameplay to slower shooting and limited visibility.  It takes time to learn what everything does, since you only have 8 seconds to see what’s there and decide until the game decides for you.

Each wave lasts about 20 seconds and your goal is to not get hit.  There will be enemies coming at you from various areas and you can shoot them to increase your score.  If you lose all your lives, you start over from Wave 1.  This will eventually next you extra lives, which are needed when the game gets more challenging.  There are a few other types of stages as well, such as “fun” stages where enemies can’t hurt you and you jump around in a circus building.  There are also comical stages, like the “butt stage” where there are butts in the background and you end up fighting enemies that look like butts wearing sunglasses.

Every so many stages will get you to a Boss Stage, where you fight one of the game’s four main bosses.  These also run on a timer, so if you don’t defeat the boss your first try, you’ll be able to resume the fight a few stages later.  This goes onward until you defeat the fourth boss of the game are awarded the Hero’s Cape.  At this point, you also continue forward to upgrade your weapons and fight through “dark” versions of the bosses that are more difficult.

This game originally released on Steam and had co-op multiplayer for local players.  This feature was, unfortunately, not brought into the PS Vita version of the game.  Without this feature, it is purely a single player game.  It’s still fun, but Steam players should know that the co-op was removed for the handheld release.

This game is not long, by any means.  Once I had a better feel with the gameplay systems, it took me about 15 minutes to get through about 32 waves and defeat the four bosses the first time through.  Since the game has endless waves, you could play for hours on end in a single go, if you’re skilled enough.  As far as those just wanting to get through the main parts of the game, you could probably start the game, get used to the system, and beat those bosses and unlock the Boss Rush mode in a few hours or less.

Controls

You don’t have to worry about touch controls when you play the game.  This game does work on the PlayStation TV without touch controls, and it works the same on the Vita.  All you need to worry about is using the buttons and enjoying the game.

Moving around the levels is done with the D-Pad and/or Left Analog Stick.  The X button is used to fire off your weapons as well as choosing an option in the Shop.  That’s all there is to it.  The D-Pad, Analog, and X.  It’s a very simple control scheme, and the tutorial does a great job of explaining it to you.

Presentation

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The visuals offer an 8-bit style from the drawn cinematics in the intro and Victory/Game Over screens to the actual gameplay design.  Everything looks very retro and it pulls off that style well.  Even with the game stretch out on the PlayStation TV, it looks really nice and crisp.

Performance isn’t bad, either.  There are some areas where the frames dip a little bit.  This is noticeable mostly when you get the “Large Globs” weapon enhancement through the shop.  Nothing major, but it’s there.  The load times are all very short aside from the initial load time.  The game boots noticeably slower than other Vita games, offering a good 20 seconds before it begins to load the pre-title animations and developer credits.

Summary

Shutshimi is the definition of a randomized shoot-em-up from the random items and levels to the very random story, dialogue, and menu descriptions.   On the downside, the multiplayer was removed for the Vita release, and there is a long initial load sequence.  If you like the genre, it’s a wacky, yet fun game to get into.

8/10

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