No Shiro II
version reviewed by Malc
anyone noticed I've nearly finished porting all the mkII reviews
over yet? Not many left to go! To break up the monotonous monotony
(and the boring boredom as well) I decided to review the game I
am playing the most right now. That's right, here's Pokemon Sapphire!
Eh, no, sorry, here's Shikigami No Shiro II (Or Mobile Light Force
2 if you are playing the bastardised US PS2 version, the less said
about that the better.)
preferred weapon of choice is a jap Gamecube, slotted into a tate'd
pc monitor, with one of those tidy little Hori-pads. It's one of
those games that needs accurate control with a decent d-pad, and
your eyes to be bang up close to the screen. Which I have, so I'm
other recent GC additions, I've been leaving Shiki II plonked in
the console, and with a flick of a switch, I have it ready to play
on my desktop, ideal for those 10 minute shmups as a work break.
This state of affairs has lasted all through the marathon shmup
review port-fest I've been engaging in the last week, and I'm not
tired of Shiki II one bit. In fact, I've grown to love it more,
having appreciated its lovely level of production values, the alternate
soundtracks, the absorbing cutscenes - although I can't understand
a word - and most of all the subtleties and nuances of the gameplay
and scoring mechanisms.
I'm not going to throw lots of screenshots at you here, and there
won't be in depth analyses of the characters, because other people
have done this already.
if you want a faq, go here
and if you want lots of pics and other lovely stuff, go here
for the alfavision site on Shiki II.
for once the amount of pages alfasystem has devoted to the game,
together with the fact its also on DC, PS2, Xbox, and Windows PC
too, you can tell that this isn't just a throwaway title for them.
I do think there are also hiscore boards up there too. Very nice.
in the time honoured system of breaking down reviews into chunks,
here are the broken down chunks:
start and diving in past the options (ooh, look, extreme mode, I'll
try that some day) - you are presented with 7 characters to choose
from. Each has an alternate mode for the secondary weapon too, which
change the way you play with that character quite a bit. I'm still
experimenting with them all, but I like the chappy with the large
whooshy swords - they are pretty much all-powerful, and even though
most people don't seem to like him, the bloke with the Madness suit
on and with the ciggy hanging out of his mouth gets me quite far
on in the game (read: level 3). I'm trying really hard to play on
a credit, and although a couple of times I have succumbed to continuing,
I generally don't do it as I'm enjoying my personal score battles
- all scores being saved for future plays, handily.
are a mixed bag, you will come to really hate certain characters
as their weaponry will just not suit you. But each has its own strengths
depending on how you want to play the game. For the casual blaster,
who just wants to shoot his way through the game, there are characters
with a strong main weapon - this will effectively clear the screen
of enemies, but provide little opportunity for coin bonuses. If
you are chasing these coin bonuses, you really want to use your
secondary weapon, which automatically reap in coins when used.
the closer you are to bullets or enemies, the larger value on the
coins - which reaches a maximum of 8x when you are almost about
to be hit. Many more coins are available when using a secondary
weapon too, so as well as being automatically raked in, the amount
of them vastly increases as well. There are actually deeper coin
mechanics going on than I have described but I'll let you find out
addition to your dual weaponry, you carry a stock of bombs, and
each chara has their own type. Some of them can be quite useless
in fact, and others can completely wipe off all of a boss's life
proximity to enemy bullets also upgrades your main weapon too, also
known as scraping in shmuppy circles.
bullets will temporarily put your main weapon into a hyper mode,
just when you need it. But scraping does not have any effect on
the strength of your secondary weapon. I'm not going to go into
anal detail about weapons and scoring systems here, use that link
above, but I will say that having the choice of what amounts to
14 different weapon systems extends the life of the game immeasurably.
With my two favourite characters, I can with one get both extremely
good scores (for me at least) and further into the game with the
Super highly detailed, but all a little DULL. Possibly being dull
helps see the neon coloured bullets more, so no real complaints.
But put it beside its closest cousin - which will be ESP Ra.De.
- and everything has a grey or brownish hue. Lots and lots of 3D
trickery going on on the backgrounds though, some of the surreal
environments are astounding, but the real life style backdrops do
seem a little bland. Maybe further into the game things pick up
a bit - the theme of JapRetroCyberspace probably describes it best.
If indeed there is such a theme. Lots of blasting explosions on
bosses, kind of like Ikaruga has, but without the size and scale
of the actual bosses themselves. Most of the bosses so far are not
much bigger than your own character, being flying manga people.
I'm sure their scale will pick up later!
there are two scores offered, the first is my favourite - with orchestral
arcade sounding sweeping tunes, with rock elements and sadly, a
Saxophone. The second is much more dated techno inspired, and does
get wearying on my ears quickly. Often I turn off the music in the
options, and play some really fast Hard Trance over the top of it,
which I think works quite well. But that's just me.
I'm now really enjoying the game, I got it quite a while ago but
never got into it properly. It isn't a terribly fast or exciting
game though, I have to admit. Bullets fire aplenty, with lots of
whirly and fizzy bits, its more sort of slow bullet-hell than something
fast and whizzy like Feveron sports. Early levels are now getting
quite tiring, but the quest for coins and score pads them out well,
and are good practice for later levels. Levels are broken up into
two parts - and the hardest by far is level 3 part one. I often
get here with all 3 lives intact and lose them all on this level
alone. Fortunately, this is what the practice option is for!
actual play, movements are more planned and relaxed than intense
bursts of dodging. Lots of patterns - both familiar and new, with
some shootable bullets - some of which can also be wiped out with
certain character's secondary attacks too. Enemies float gently
onto the screen, bullets swirl narcotically, bosses thrust and sway
with their own rhythms. And its just downright good fun too.
Oh yes, Shiki II offers a pleasant and enjoyable romp around, without
the forced play of Ikaruga (which I still have not got the hang
of, I have to say) and lets you just blast away for 10 minutes if
this is all you want. Longer, repeated plays bring out the strengths
in the gameplay design, and the title becomes more-ish - almost
unable to put down and demanding extra playing. Production values
of the game are very high, the whole package exudes a polish and
wealth of options you wouldn't really expect these days. The developers
have been proud of producing this game, I can tell you that.
on with the pics - sorry I tried to take some but they turned out
mince so here are a few I nicked from various sources: