Arcade Hits: Shienryu Review

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Slowly but surely, it appears the little known 2D shooters of an age long forgotten are finally receiving the exposure they deserve. XBLA has provided a medium for such games for years, but now were getting a similar service from the PlayStation Network in the form of Japanese PSone imports. You see, while a lot of great 2D shooters slipped under the radar in North America and Europe, a lot of the best titles never made it out of Japan at all. Remember our Gaiaseed review?  Well, that was the first of many, as next up is Shienryu, a 1997 Japanese arcade classic that came out much too late in the PlayStation’s American lifespan, and never saw the light of day in Europe.

Much like the legendary Radiant Silvergun and, most recently, the iOS release of Rayforce, Shienryu is a vertically scrolling 2D shooter with lots of explosions, bosses and 2-player support to boot. The classic formula is intact with the flurry of standard aerial and terrain-based enemies giving you a five minute pain in your ass before a ridiculously large boss emerges, challenging you to a duel. There is little to set Shienryu apart from other shooters, but the super silky gameplay (despite the impressive degree of onscreen carnage) and colourful effects from the varied enemies and backdrops make for a pleasing burst of oriental challenge.

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Tanks, stationary guns, flying drones, aircraft, mechs and boats – shoot them. In fact, if you see something moving on screen, the chances are it’s meant to be killed. If it doesn’t die, try flying into it because it’s probably a weapon upgrade. All of your weapons (machine guns, rockets and lightening) can be upgraded to unimaginable power, where the damage spread eventually reaches from one end of the screen to another.

Originally being a coin-op game, Shienryu doesn’t waste time with meaningless introductions or back stories to its futuristic robot controlled universe. All you need to know is that the analogue makes your nifty red aircraft go from here to there, Square shoots and Cross fires your special ability. And the robots are bad. Bad robots.Once you’ve nailed the basics, you’ll learn to shoot and dodge just as you have with every other shoot ‘em up.

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Although developers Warashi ensured players an exciting and fast-paced experience with Shienryu, a lot of its old school appeal relies on its difficulty which is, like, totally immense… dude. However, my PS3 ain’t no arcade cabinet, nor is it situated in a cheap, sweaty seaside promenade. Thus, I was happy to learn that Shienryu allowed an unlimited amount of continues by tapping SELECT. Even with unlimited continues however, some of the checkpoints were so difficult to reach that Shienryu actually boasted a significant lasting appeal – somewhat of a rarity in arcade titles.

How long you play Shienryu ultimately boils down to your passion for the genre. The gameplay is smooth, responsive and explosive, but not excessively so as to hide the samey sound effects and repetition of enemies and bosses that look different, but fail to engage the player or force you to rethink your strategies in any meaningful way. That being said, however, you could do a lot worse for £3.99.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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