First Impressions: Sora o Kakeru Shōjyo Shooting

Pretty girls and shooting action: a recipe for success

If you weren't already jealous of the number of old-fashioned shooting games available in the Japanese DSi Shop thanks to the G.G. Series, now you have another one courtesy of I.T.L.

Roughly translated as Shooting Space Girls, this is a side-scroller with a difference, though what that difference is won't be immediately apparent. You have an initial selection of one of three titular teenaged anime girls (all 17, so you know it's legal – in Japan, the UK and most territories, anyway) who command a space ship and fly around blasting waves of enemy fighters, sub-bosses (including other space girls) and end stage bosses. There are four stages in all and some decent action that becomes "bullet-hellish" at the boss level.

The gameplay is pretty good and wouldn't have been out of place in an arcade of the past 10-15 years. Your ship can transform from a standard looking Vic-Viper clone with forward auto-lasers to a funky multi-limbed robo-critter of some kind that can fire in multiple directions, but is less manoeuvrable. You also have the standard screen-clearing bombs and a multi-hit life gauge in lieu of extra lives. Enemies drop the occasional bomb, extra life point and a couple of upgrades to your basic gun (these aren't lost if you die and continue) as well as lots of bonus point multipliers to collect.

Whilst you have a score and a limited number of continues your goal really isn't to get to the end (though the game does end after the fourth stage with a different little end sequence for each character), to unlock the other two characters (though you will after one playthrough and they play differently for variety), or even to get the high score (there's no initials and no leader boards, which is rather disappointing). No, instead you're accumulating a total score in order to unlock gallery photos of the girls and the enemies – though it's the girls that really get the focus.

Yes, this is a game for anime-pervs – though we hasten to note that this is in no way an "H" title and therefore not something you'll get busted for having on your DSi (well, not by the authorities, anyway). Put enough time in with the game and you'll soon be able to display photos of all three girls in bathing suits, provacative poses with their spacecraft (wearing their flight suits, of course – what are you people thinking?) and then other assorted poses (again, fully clothed sigh – get your minds out of the gutter!) in nicely-detailed, full colour images that are big enough to fill the top screen on your DSi whilst you browse thumbnails in the touchscreen below. There are 96 in all and it will take 10s of millions of points to get them all unlocked which means lots of play and lots of gallery browsing.

The game isn't brilliant, but it is a competent shooter and we certainly don't have enough of those on DSiWare yet. The cheesecake gallery offering is, well, the icing on the – oh, you know! So if you have an import DSi and like old-school shooting action (and teenage anime girls) it's worth your 500 Points.

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