For what it is, a doujin shooter made by a tiny team of people, Ether Vapor Remaster has an amazingly broad scope. The small production cost and team show through in some rough edges but what it gets right it gets REALLY right.
The bad first. It has a hitbox that can’t decide what size it wants to be, some bullets have larger areas of effect than it shows, the 3D view means that shots can come from a different plane than you’re on and they can be very difficult to judge (particularly homing shots), and the game has an uneven difficulty shifting between painfully simple and blazingly difficult at times.
But its high points drown those low ones out quite handily. A very pretty aesthetic, an interesting (if underdeveloped) story which is exceedingly rare in this genre, good music, and extensive replayability via a host of unlockables.
It’s also easily accessible for players of all skill levels; I definitely think this will be my first recommendation to those new to the genre from now on. While other games might have tighter gameplay the fact that you can customize your game via additional credits and shields (unlocked through reaching certain scores, or beating the game) that mean anyone can beat the game through virtually unlimited continues making it perfect for introductory level players. Even for those of us who know the genre this is still a nice addition because it makes learning the later levels much easier since you aren’t immediately booted after making one slip-up as you are in other games. Allowing you to play through the hard parts to see and memorize all the patterns before coming back and beating it the “right” way.
In short it’s a great game despite a few missteps, and might well be the perfect game for those just coming to the genre that find some of the hardcore Shmups on Steam just a little too hardcore.