Title: Super Galaxy Squadron
Platform: Steam, Windows

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Shoot-em-up, Bullet Hell
Players: Single player


Written by Bad Demoman 3rd February 2015














As I mentioned in my review of Outland, I have a certain thing for shmups. I've played a fair bit of Touhou although I'm never good enough to beat one, and I refuse to give in and go for easy mode! So along comes Super Galaxy Squadron with its promise, in the words of the developer Nick Clinkscales, to “not compromise fun over nostalgia”. That sounds like a goal I'm definitely down for, and with all of the proceeds going to the Child's Play charity I was exceedingly excited to give it a go!


A lot of people groan when they hear the word ''Accessibility'', especially in regards to a genre known for its difficulty like Shmups. It's definitely not the terrible thing it's made out to be though, especially when done right. Super Galaxy Squadron achieves its goal of accessibility through its two difficulty modes. Normal mode forgoes the standard one-shot-kill so familiar to most shmup players and instead implements a health meter and rather than limited lives and continues, the level you're on simply restarts upon death. Once hit, you drop one of your weapon upgrades. As a result of this, I found that when things go bad they go REALLY bad. After I get hit once, I panic and scramble to collect my lost upgrades, only to get hit more in my attempt! It's a nice element of risk/reward after you take damage. Replacing a limited number of bombs is a charging Hyper bar, which refills as you collect credits from enemy ships. While I'm sure some hardcore shmup players may view this as absolute heresy (Change? In MY video game genre? The nerve of some people!) it's a change I welcome with open arms. You may say ''Well that's just because you suck!'' and to be honest, I'd find myself agreeing. But I love that Super Galaxy Squadron has finally given me a shooter I can beat! Besides, even if you want a more standard shoot-em-up experience, Hardcore mode is for you! While the Hyper bar is still there, you'll find yourself back to the comforting embrace (or would uncomfortable hug of death be more appropriate?) of dying in a single hit.


































The gameplay is pretty standard fare for a shmup, progressing through 6 stages comprised of a short section of smaller, standard enemies followed by an epic boss. The standard enemies provide an opportunity to collect upgrades, which carry through until the end of the game. As a result of this, early on these parts of the level may provide some challenge but I found myself blitzing through them in later levels, especially through use of the Hyper meter. Collecting credits dropped by enemies can lead to almost endless chaining of the Hyper. To be honest though, I'm rarely drawn to shmups because of the minions before the main event – and with some of the most shmup-sounding names I've ever heard (Hell Diver anyone?), Super Galaxy Squadron definitely delivers in the aspect of bosses. Each of these is suitably intense and different, although they still don't feel like they need pattern memorization or trial and error. My favourite one was the modified mech suit, as it was probably as close as it can get to fighting another ship with similar capabilities to yourself. Perhaps the best part about these bosses is that there's a good chance that each playthrough, you'll fight each boss differently.


This is because of the number of playable characters that you can choose from – 14 to be precise. That's the most playable characters I've seen in a shoot-em-up. Each one has different stats, sub weapons and Hypers. While I've certainly not completed the game with each, I fully intend to. It really adds to the replay-ability. Even if you manage to finish the game with every character, Endless Mode adds even more play time.

































All of this awesome gameplay is tied together with some truly stellar graphics. While the backgrounds are surprisingly diverse for a shmup set in endless space, the real attraction is the ships. With so many different kinds, its amazing that each one still manages to have an entirely unique and detailed design. Backing up these awesome graphics is an equally awesome soundtrack composed by Random Encounter, who happen to be my favourite band. Consisting of high energy chiptunes and rock, the soundtrack really adds to the excitement of fights, especially with bosses. When I reached the final boss for the first time, the music genuinely gave me goosebumps and got me really hyped to beat this game.


While I certainly enjoy the old classics like Raiden, Super Galaxy Squadron succeeds in bringing a little bit of modern accessibility to a genre that seems so steeped in retro traditions. I think I'll be playing and replaying this one for a while to come.



Pros:

Accessible gameplay done right,

Awesome graphics,

Hype-inducing soundtrack.


Cons:

Sections before bosses lack challenge.


Final Verdict,

Super Galaxy Squadron scores a super 9 out of 10.


Written by,
Bad Demoman


















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