From the very first moment that I fired up my copy of UFO Interactive’s new top down shoot-em-up, I was immediately transported back to my days as an innocent youngster playing games like Galaga and Galaxia. Those games required and demanded a steady hand and a will of steel. I had neither of those and that is probably why I got my butt handed to me on a consistent basis by those stupid alien invaders. I experienced an awful lot of fun with those games as they possessed some strange sort of infectious qualities that kept me coming back for more. On the down side however, due to the stress levels that those kinds of constant, bullet flying experiences generate; I drifted away from those kinds of titles as I grew older. Mamorukun Curse put me firmly back into my toddler drawers from the very first frame and I was reminded that this genre still brings with it all the stress and frustration that it always had. On the plus side though, Mamorukun Curse also brought with it the fun and addictiveness.
What you’ll notice right off the bat is that this title is decidedly Japanese. If you’re not a fan of anime then you’ll likely be turned off as it wears its anime pride firmly on its shoulder. The graphics are bright and cartoony, the characters are annoyingly pleasant, and the voice acting is completely in Japanese with only subtitles to accommodate those of us who speak English. The art style does give you the chance to see an awful lot of creative enemy variety. For any complaint someone might have against this game, enemy variety shouldn’t be one of them. If you are into that style though, you’re going to feel right at home and the Japanese dialogue actually enhances the experience as English dubs for anime are normally a good reason to insert kitchen knives into your ears. The music is also perfect for the art style and it’s all done with a certain retro flair that fits the genre nicely.
The game starts off intriguing enough with comic book style frames bringing the player the story of a young boy who is tragically hit by a car and inconveniently ends up dead. He wakes up in a strange place with some other people, none of whom can really remember how they got there. Soon thereafter, a decidedly chipper girl shows up and informs everyone that they need to help rescue her world from being devoured by darkness. You and your team of friends quickly set off on a crazy, non-stop shooting frenzy that never EVER lets up. The story is pretty simple and straightforward but storytelling in itself is somewhat lacking. All narrative exposition is completed through static stills of the characters with text below them. This isn’t always necessarily a problem but it tends to move along too quickly to allow the player to fully grasp what is going on. Other characters also tend to pop in and out unexpectedly with very little explanation of who they are or why you should care about them. Things become a little clearer as you go but I never got the sense that I was really immersed in any sort of universe worth thinking about. The short game length is also a bit of a hindrance to feeling connected with the characters but story is also not the purpose of this game. This game exists to provide you with an over the top shooting extravaganza and on this front, it delivers in spades.
Gameplay is front and center here in Mamorukun Curse. From the moment you take control of your character you are blasting away and dodging (or trying to dodge) all of the incoming missiles and bullets hurdling your way. It really does not let up and depending on your tolerance for being completely immersed with frantic gameplay, this can be a good or a bad thing. Bullets come fast and often and it wasn’t a strange occurrence to find myself going through my entire roster in a matter of seconds before I could even register what was going on. Luckily, you can bring the heat as well with a never ending supply of bullets that fly as fast and wild as your opponents’. Also in your favor is the curse ability. By pressing the correct button, you can send out a cursed bullet which can curse all enemies in its path and will also eliminate any enemy bullets on screen. It’s a bit of a lifesaver and what’s even better is that you have a never ending supply of it. Any enemy killed while cursed will offer up big time points and extra candy. Oh, yeah… you collect a lot of candy in this game. You can also curse yourself for a short duration of time which ups your firepower about 500 times and can clear the screen in a matter of seconds.
As fun as the gameplay is, it’s also the department which brings the most frustration. Besides the fact that repetition starts to set in a bit, there’s also a lot of potential for frustration. One hit kills and the amount of craziness on screen at any given moment will lead to an awful lot of “Game Over” screens which can result in quite a bit of teeth clenching. The view of the battlefield is also occasionally problematic as it only takes up a narrow portion of the television screen. It probably fits perfect on the big arcade machines but it was rather restricted on my widescreen TV, only utilizing a small portion of the available screen space. I found it to be stressful but I know a lot of people really dig this kind of stuff so for those people, Mamorukun Curse will be a welcome return to a gaming genre that is sorely overlooked these days.
Mamorukun Curse will fill a void in the gaming community as it harkens back to the glory days of arcade madness and I certainly hope that people who are pining for this kind of experience find their way to this title. It’s not the kind of game that I would have thought I’d have enjoyed but I’m certainly glad I played it as it offers up the kind of manic gameplay and white knuckle intensity that seems to be missing on consoles nowadays. With multiple modes to choose from such as story or arcade mode, along with plenty of unlockables along the way; there’s plenty to love here for fans of the genre!
Review copy provided by UFO Interactive
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