SHMUPS or better known as Shoot Em Ups or Bullet Hell Shooters once ruled the arcades and home console markets from the 80s to the 90s with classics such as Gradius, 1941, R-TYPE and more. The genre was dead for a few decades with the exception of standout games such as Ikaruga which reinvented and revitalized the genre. After many years of relative silence and blips on the radar comes along Shikhondo -Soul Eater from Digerati that’s has a unique twist on the bullet hell formula.
In Shikhondo – Soul Eater you play as one of two girls and your goal is to pursue and shoot down all the Yokai that have escaped from Limbo and you must collect souls so that you may return them to the underworld. And that’s just about the gist of the story and all you’re going to get and that’s fine because you shouldn’t expect much more from a bullet hell. Nothing more, nothing less.
Visually this game is a stunner with its heavily inspired art style of east Asia with its. Chinese and Japanese inspired art style. The borders of your screen are covered in beautiful mural style art that is very eye catching and you’ll see your score and additional information on the right side of the screen and health on the left with the center of the screen for the SHMUP gameplay with a beautiful background that scrolls and progresses as you scroll up the screen.
The stages are pretty awesome with countless enemies and sprays of bullet energy flying all over the screen, you’ll see a variety of enemies and they carry over to the next stage that you go to and when it comes to boss fights you’ll find that they have about 2 forms. The first form is a good challenge but once the second form appears you will be on your toes as the bullet storm comes at you with the ferocity! Their second forms are where Shikhondo – Soul Eater shines the most as the music grows more intense and the forms the bosses take are both very interesting and grotesque.
The controls for the game are very solid and responsive regardless of whether you’re using the joy cons, Pro Controller, and even if you’re like me and have the Hori RAP V arcade stick then you can get that authentic feel as if you’re back in the arcade glory days. Your arsenal consists of a standard stream of bullets with some screen nukes abilities here and there and also a powered-up barrage of bullets and even a charged shot which takes time and practice to master.
There are a few modes, including arcade, local co-op, boss rush, hardcore, and customize. They all have their own difficulty settings and span over all 5 stages. Customize mode allows you to tweak and alter what happens when you inevitably die.
My only gripes with Shikhondo is the length of the game being only 5 levels long only taking you roughly 20 or so minutes to complete and also the fact that while the art style and graphics are amazing it also makes it hard for you to be able to distinguish what the enemy bullets are because they can blend in with the environment.
There is a lot of replayability, regardless of how short the game is, as you try and get through the insane levels without using any continues. The music is awesome, the visuals are stunning, the gameplay is fast and action-packed, Shikhondo – Soul Eater is great fun for bullet hell fans and is KASANOVA APPROVED.