Review: Vampire Crystals (Nintendo Wii)
by Robert Hubbs on January 31, 2013

Vampire Crystals

Nintendo WiiWare

Developer: Shanblue Interactive

Publisher: Shanblue Interactive

Release: Dec 20th, 2012

 

Vampire Crystals is a little gem that came out just before Christmas, at a time when many people were pouring their bank accounts into the annual Steam sale.  This is a shame because Vampire Crystals is definitely a fun little romp for your Nintendo Wii.  Vampire Crystals is a small WiiWare title from the minds at Shanblue Interactive that doesn’t hide its heavy influences from Smash TV.  It’s a straight forward run and gun action arcade title that up to four people can play together and provide a good chunk of fun even with its flaws.

In a game like Vampire Crystals, plot is really not that important but it’s nice to have a motive I suppose, even if it’s a goofy one at that.  In a world where Vampires and Zombies live together, something does down and now Zombies have declared Vampires the enemy and are attacking and destroying everything in sight.  It doesn’t seem to be just zombies but orcs, goblins, spiders and skeletons as well that have it out for Vampires.  So pretty much it’s up to you to go zombie hunting to stop making the zombies go crazy.

Along the way you will run thru multiple stages filled with weapon power-ups, anti-power ups, destructible objects and hazardous areas.  Weapons power-ups are generally the same run of the mill weapons you would find in an arcade style game like this.  You have flame throwers, multiple variations of the spread gun, bazookas, and screen clearing bombs to gun down a never ending supply of rushing zombies.  All the weapons last for a limited amount of time forcing you to do a ton of retreating and searching for a new power-up since the normal gun as usual is only good for killing the weaker enemies.

Some of the other items you pick-up include a variation of shields like spinning boomerangs, a potion that lets you become a giant and squash everything beneath you, and the speed-up potion.  There are also hour glasses that appear periodically during each stage to award you with bonus time.

Vampire Crystals starts off rather slow for the first couple of stages as it allows you to get used to three objectives they have in place.  Those objectives are a) killing a set number of monsters, b) collecting a set number of gems, and c) doing A and B before the timer runs out.   In a few stages in the game, I have many times barely managed to meet my objectives within the time limit.  This is in part because of one tiny issue I have with the kill counter.  I feel that some of the bigger monsters should be worth more than a single kill, especially when they start showing up more frequently in later stages.  Other than that I think there’s a nice balance to the chaos that ensues on screen.

After the initial stages, Vampire Crystals amped up everything and soon you will find yourself swarmed with literally tons of onscreen enemies.  Surprisingly the game doesn’t suffer from any slowdown, or none that I have yet to experience.  In a single player game it’s not hard to keep track of where you are in a swarm of beasties, but in a multiplayer game it can get very out of hand.  When you have two or more people the screen will zoom out to a degree to allow for some freedom, but it can be very easy to lose yourself in a sea of ghoulies and bullets to the point that it can bother your eyes.  At this point the game starts to look like a bullet hell shoot’em up game.

The only time the chaos seems to slow down is during a boss encounter. The Bosses are colossal in size and are accompanied by a small horde of minions to make things difficult.  While the number of onscreen monsters dips, the difficulty is still there as the bosses usually have a very specific weak spot that require some great aim or maneuvering to get to.  The minions make the boss encounters a bit harder because you have to dodge them and draw fire away from the brief opportunity you had at the boss’ weak point.

Boss fights can be either a little easier or a pain in the neck depending on the control scheme you are using.  You can use the classic Wii controller, which uses one analog stick to run around and the other to fire in the direction you move it to.  I consider this the ideal configuration for this game.  Now you can use the Wiimote and nunchuck, but after a while your hand does get rather tired from zipping the aiming cursor all over the screen.  The aiming is also a bit trickier because especially for weak spot specific bosses, because you have to aim precisely at the point.  For the most part either setup works very well, it’s just a matter of personal preference, but I found it’s easier with the classic controller.

One of my only little gripes about Vampire Crystals is how monotonous the game gets after a while.  It’s really a game that I can only play for a little while and maybe just a tad longer with friends.  Its flaw is really the way the game is made. They throw near endless hordes of beasties at you and you have to outrun and outgun them to the point that you are literally running in a circle.  Vampire Crystals is only enjoyable in short bursts.  Play the game til you get to a boss, beat it, then take a break.  Despite my gripe, Vampire Crystals is a very enjoyable game for the time you are playing.  The fast paced action and unrelenting monsters do keep you on your toes.

 

Short Attention Span Summary:

What Vampire Crystals does is provide a fun action pack experience that is more fun to enjoy with a couple of your friends.  Vampire Crystals doesn’t exactly do anything new for this type of arcade style gameplay, but it does offer all the basics and still manages to make it a fun time.  Even when everything on the screen becomes chaotic it’s still quite enjoyable and a great way to kill a couple of hours of your day.



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