If The Binding of Isaac and Parodius had some kind of horribly painful, yet charming and cute child, it would probably look a little bit like Shutshimi: Seriously Swole. While perhaps not necessarily as good as either of those games, it takes elements from both to create a somewhat unique, if not overtly concise shoot-em-up adventure.
When you first load up Shutshimi, you are greeted by a cigar-smoking, muscle-bounded fish making the typical, “I have to save my homeland,” spiel about why he’s taking up arms (literally). The pure blandness of the story works to the game’s favor, however. Much like the aforementioned Parodius, the game isn’t so much about the story of why the fish with arms is shooting at sharks and jellyfish, but celebrating the fact that it just is. I imagine any attempt to justify the game’s purpose anymore would come off as too cheesy and ridiculous, something the game balances fairly well. Instead, you get a game where multi-colored fish wear hats and shoot spinning underwater bears with machine guns.
Unfortunately, it would have been nice to see the same amount of effort go into the variety of the game’s presentation. Once you get past the general camp that Seriously Swole offers, you realize that you are shooting the same sharks in sunglasses over and over again. Even the bosses are repeated after only three encounters, though they are in upgraded forms.
The enemy variety in general peters out very early on. It doesn’t help that there are a limited number of modes of play to pick from as well. You can pick Story Mode or Boss Rush Mode. Both modes are pretty self-explanatory. The story mode has separate difficulties that affect the game in various ways, but considering there are zero trophies associated with completing the game’s “Heartless” or Hard mode, I doubt too many people will see Shutshimi as an opportunity for bragging rights.
You may be wondering where The Binding of Isaac reference above comes into play. That happens to be where Shutshimi shines. The game plays out in short 10 – 20 second waves of shoot-em-up action. In between the waves, you are given eight seconds to pick an upgrade. Early waves highlight important words like “shotgun,” “Rapid fire,” etc. But, once you get past the first boss encounter, you have to speed-read descriptions or memorize item sprites. These randomized upgrades add a surprising and welcome amount of depth to Shutshimi. One wave, you could end up reversing your controls, while another could transport you into what I can only describe as the “Butt Dimension” where all enemies turn into sentient rear-ends, literally surfing across the screen. The upgrades, much like the enemy and environments, do eventually start repeating. But, the random nature of what you’ll have to pick from in between each level keeps gameplay fresh and involved as opposed to just another generic shmup.
Ultimately, Shutshimi: Seriously Swole is a fun little distraction with easy pick up and play gameplay. While you may find the PS Vita version to be more suited to that style of gameplay, the PS4 version is certainly a viable option, especially considering the added benefit of local multiplayer. Even if the enemies get stale very quickly, you’re never really meant to play the game for more than ten or twenty minutes at a time, coincidentally the time it takes to finish a round of the game. Coupled with the unique upgrade mechanics and the occasional chuckle you’ll get just from the sheer craziness on-screen, I can recommend Shutshimi to anyone looking for an easy game to waste time with.
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