Reviewing something from the shmup genre is always interesting. Any gamer worth their salt pretty much knows the basic formula for what a shmup is. This is because many consider the first video game is Spacewar! Follow this up with the 70s and 80s shmup dominance with titles like Asteroids, Defender and Space Invaders to name a few, and you can see how the shmup is ingrained in the history of this genre.
Then the number of shmups began to slowly shrink as the markets diversified, but the genre still is a much beloved genre among hardcore communities (especially in the East). G.Rev rose to prominence amongst the community by providing the engine and some background work to genre defining titles like Ikaruga and Gradius V before branching off and creating their own things in Senko no Ronde and Under Defeat. So these guys do have a bit of credibility in the market which brings us to the re-release of of their last NAOMI arcade project, Mamorukun Curse!
These days it is becoming harder and harder to find a shmup many people can legitimately dive into. The genre has been pushing towards hardcore crowds for years with a score focused setup. This works for a lot of people, but the release of shmups you can just sit down and play through are beginning to show up less and less. That’s where something like Mamorukun Curse! does things right. Mamorukun is all about letting the player play at their own pace, which is pretty novel.
The entire game is built around this philosophy and it works fairly well if you aren’t looking purely for a score counter. I’m not good enough to test this, but it seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to manipulate the score counter in some sections if you are among the more elite ranks of shmup players. The reason for this is twofold; Mamorukun is a free moving shmup that allows you to move forward however you like. This means you could also theoretically find a section to sit and shoot to build score. The second reason is that you are given a very easy to manipulate curse gun that throws a ring around enemies that strengthens their attack while draining and boosting their candy drops. Candy is the little red, green, and yellow balls that help boost the score up a bit, so you could see how sitting in some places racking up points can happen. There is a timer to control the cheating, but those of you out there dead set on who can get the highest score might need to stick with Cave and their shmups.
For the rest of us normal humans that just want to clear the levels, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Mamorukun‘s accessibility is pretty high with the systems they have set up. The game offers 7 characters to burn through the game with and they each have a unique shooting style. Whatever style you like to use for your shmups is pretty much here. Homing shots, spreaders, snipe shots, and others make up the different options and they each have their pros and cons. Getting good with all of them however might be ideal if you want to step outside of the standard Arcade Mode.
What we have on offer are three different play styles; Arcade gives you one character to move forward with, Netherworld Adventures tasks you to choose three characters to complete selected missions and Story mode gives you 5 characters to try and tackle the entire game. The game uses these different modes to get the player to adjust to the different character styles and it really is a great way to motivate gamers to step outside of their comfort zones.
This changes the way you shoot as well as you are able to conveniently angle your character in different directions to fire. While firing, your direction is locked up so you’ll have to find the best angle to attack and often times that’s not always straight forward. Paired with the different shooting methods and the game forces the player to have a good deal of skill.
Gameplay for Mamorukun is pretty interesting. The curse bullet mentioned before is not exclusively for enemies. You can set a ring out and become cursed yourself which allows you to greatly power up for a few seconds and only really sacrifices time to recharge your curse shot. For those who might be looking for a little extra help, this is certainly a useful option because getting adjusted to the way you shoot in Mamorukun takes a little while. In addition to being able to move your character all directions, you can angle the direction of your shot 180°. When you begin to shoot however, you are locked in to that position so you do have to pay attention to where you are facing while avoiding enemy bullets.
Mamorukun is a surprisingly fun shmup. G.Rev went out of their way to make this accessible through the numerous options, free moving characters and multiple routes. The presentation is all here as well. While I’m not a huge fan of syncing my trophy collection at the start of the game, the rest of the package is pretty charming. Bonuses to unlock character art and movies give incentive to push through the game multiple times and what Mizuki Takayama did as a competent artist should be incentive enough.
The story is simple, which is fairly common in shmups. Fululu the God brings four recently deceased humans to life to help her bullet hell the World of Darkness away from the Netherworld in exchange for their lives. It is light hearted and cute to match Takayama’s art, but more importantly it strikes a fair balance so nothing ever crosses in to annoyingly cute.
If you are looking for a solid shmup to play however you want, this offers you plenty of options to do so. Those of you that have been ignoring the shmup genre simply because they tend to look intimidating, should really try Mamorukun Curse! out. Turn the difficulty down to low, max out your lives and play the game at your own pace. Mamorukun isn’t the next big shmup, but it has so many different options to fit a player’s needs that the curious should definitely give it a look.
[+Very Accessible] [+Interesting Curse Bullet Mechanic] [+Solid Gameplay] [+Fun Design] [+Japan's DLC Included] [-Weak Audio]