Well, I hadnt played this game in ages, and after buying the Gundemonium Collection, I figured I"d have a go at it since I couldnt really remember much of it.
....and then it very quickly hit me as to WHY I hadnt played this game in ages. Suddenly, I remembered it all. If you're wondering why my "time spent" on this game here on Steam is so low, and yet I'm writing a review, it's because I've already spent a big pile of time with this, and the other two games, on the PS3 versions, which came out quite some time ago.
The other two games in the trilogy are bloody brilliant. Excellent bullet-hell type games.
This one though is different. Everything that the other two get right, THIS one gets wrong. Uninteresting attack patterns, extremely repetetive (and short) level design, stupid control issues (really? There's no "slow movement" button here? In a bullet-hell shmup? when there WAS one in the other two?), cheap boss attacks (the first boss: If you DONT know that he's going to do the arm swipe as his first attack, and if you dont ALREADY know just where to be when he does it, you WILL die 1 second into the fight. Gets worse from there.) and one of the worst game mechanics I've ever heard of in this type of game.
See, here's the main gimmick: You've got all of these different dolls that you control instead of ships. You can switch them out when one dies, and you essentially get nine lives to go with. All of them have different abilities and blah blah blah. None of THAT matters, though, you see. While that all sounds cool, it's obliterated by that particular gameplay mechanic that I mentioned up above. You cant just shoot things in this or use special powers on them, nooooooooooo. What you have to do is kill yourself. No, really. Bosses in particular CANNOT be beaten without doing this.... numerous times on each. You fill up this "flow" meter by shooting stuff, and when it's powered up, ramming yourself into an enemy of any sort will cause the doll to violently explode, doing massive damage to anything caught in the blast.
Bosses take next to no damage from anything else, so you A: have to do this against them, and B: have to have enough remaining lives when you reach each one.
But the problem with this is simple: This is a danmaku shmup. Bullet-hell. Where the idea of RAMMING something exists. Think about that for a second. You've got chaotic, and most importantly, DENSE patterns coming out from these things, and you have to RAM THE SOURCE OF THEM. In other words, you must successfully plow directly through the areas with the highest bullet density (since it's where the shots are coming from) and successfully ram the boss without taking a hit. Yeah. Good luck with that one.
Typically, getting really close to enemies... and I dont mean right next to them, but just a short distance away... in a bullet-hell game is quite the challenge for most players. There are plenty of games of this type where the closer you are to an enemy when it pops, the more points you get. Which makes sense due to the challenge of getting close without taking a hit. But that's an OPTIONAL thing.... you dont HAVE to do it. And you can learn it in bits and pieces. As you go through the game in question, you'll learn the patterns and learn how everything works, and you spot different ways of getting close to some things to pop them, and so on.
Well, in THIS game, you *have* to do it, and getting close isnt good enough. Gotta actually collide with the thing. AFTER surviving long enough to charge up the Flow meter.
Yeah. Saying that this is frustrating is an understatement.
This developer has made a number of interesting and creative shmuppy games, and for the most part all of them are very good, which of course includes Gundemonium Recollection and GundeadliGne, the other two in this 3-pack. But THIS game is the exception. And I haaaaaaaate having to say that, as this is one of those developers that I have alot of respect for otherwise.
But even a great dev can make a mistake from time to time.