Release Date: 07/25/2013
This summer G-Style released two games simultaneously on the 3DS eShop, this game and Undead Bowling. Earlier this year they also released Crazy Construction on the eShop. One was a puzzle game that was deemed worth the full price. The other, as per the title, was a bowling game featuring zombies, which you’d think would make for an exciting game, but that was not quite the case. Let’s see how this game measures up.
The plot is fairly barebones and doesn’t get any exposition within the game itself, instead being relegated to the manual. It takes place in the future where the world’s economy and environment are controlled by a computer named Artemis. Artemis gets infected with a virus that put the world’s nuclear weapons on standby. You play as the anti-virus program that’s sent in to eradicate the virus. There’s only ever two options on the main menu: start game and internet ranking. Start game is exactly what it sounds like. Internet ranking lets you see the top scores among those who uploaded their scores, as well as see where your uploaded scores fall in the rankings.
The graphics and sound are similarly on the simple side. The bosses you fight (except the final boss of the area) all look the same, with the only change being whether there is one or two of them. The two ships you can use look distinct from each other, at least, as are the generic enemies you encounter. The backgrounds are mostly black with tunnels glowing in different colors meant to give the environment you’re flying in more of a cyber feel and seem to pulse in time with the music. Speaking of, the music has a techno sound to it, which goes with the overall theme of the game. There only seems to be a few tracks, and while they sound alright, they’re not particularly memorable.
The controls are rather straightforward. A fires a regular shot, B fires a Chain Blast, and Y triggers Overdrive. In Overdrive, everything around your ship slows down, making it much easier to dodge enemies and bullets (though you can still die if you crash into either). The circle pad and d-pad move your ship. You mostly have to rely on Chain Blasts to kill enemies since the regular shot isn’t very strong and the unlockable ship doesn’t have a regular shot at all. As you kill enemies and land chain combos, your Extend Gauge fills, and they drop items that fill the gauge for your Chain Blast. The Extend Gauge is the equivalent of lives. As long as you keep the gauge filled, you can effectively have unlimited lives. Cross Point shows where enemies will cross. Firing a Chain Blast there will cause it to hit more enemies. You can toggle this on or off in the pause screen.
You unlock a second ship after accumulating a certain amount of points, the Orion. This ship has no projectiles or regular shot. Instead, you have to get into the midst of enemies and place a chain blast. The gauge recovers automatically, unlike with the Sagittarius. In place of the regular shot is a brake that’s activated by holding the right shoulder button (though I never really made use of this). Accumulating enough points to unlock the second ship won’t take particularly long, depending on how well you score and how much you play.
As is par for the course in a shmup, things can get hectic with enemies and projectiles filling the screen. Your regular shot is just about useless, so you won’t get too far without being able to use Chain Blasts effectively. Chain Blasts being reliant on keeping a gauge filled isn’t much of an issue as long as you kill enemies consistently. It all starts to feel the same after a while, even as the backgrounds move as though you’re proceeding through different tunnels. Even after you reach the final boss and get the “game cleared’ message, another round of stages that look the same as the round you just finished starts, which adds to the monotony. The fact that both ships have different playing styles does help in giving the experience some variation, but otherwise it’s the same every time – there’s no option to change difficulty levels and stages and enemies are always the same.
That being said, I did find myself going back for another round after I got killed. Initially, my main goal was to unlock the second ship. After that, it was to try and get a higher score and build a larger chain than before. However, I did hit points where I needed a break from the game because it did start to get a little monotonous. There’s a demo if you’d rather try it out first before putting down the $6.99 for it. People expecting a more in-depth or hardcore shmup like, say, a Cave game, will be disappointed. Still, it is still an enjoyable little shmup to pull up if you wanted a quick fix while out and about.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Chain Blaster is a fun little shmup in short bursts. The two ships you can play as play completely differently from each other, which, along with the classic incentive of aiming to get a bigger high score, adds a bit of replay value. However, the lack of variation in stages, enemies, and bosses, as well as a lack of other difficulty levels causes the experience to feel repetitive after a while. You can try the demo first to see if it’s worth the $6.99, but if you’re on the fence you may want to wait for a sale unless you’re desperate for a shmup fix on your 3DS.
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