(3DS eShop)

Kokuga (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Kokuga Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Ron DelVillano

Challenge accepted

There is so much that can be said about the legacy that Kokuga brings with it to the 3DS. We can talk about the illustrious Hiroshi Iuchi, and how his work is seminal is shaping the modern shoot ‘em up genre, or we can talk about Ikaruga, the under-sold yet much adored bullet hell shooter that fans will remember fondly. Instead we’ll just say this: for those of you reading who think you’re interested in this game, go buy it now. For those of you reading who have no idea what to expect, this game is not easy.

To be fair, refering to Kokuga as “not easy” is like saying that winning the lottery is “a modest challenge.” If you play this, you are going to die many times, you are going to become frustrated, and you are going to want to throw your 3DS out the nearest window. We advise you not to do this. As difficult and frustrating a game as this may be, once you’ve mastered it – or even once you’ve stopped dying so much – it becomes a very rewarding experience.

As a top-down shoot ‘em up, Kokuga falls somewhere between being reasonably paced and being an all-out bullet hellstorm. The trick is that your ship can only shoot one bullet at a time, and you can only have one bullet on screen. These rules do not apply to your enemies. To help illustrate how this plays out, imagine that you’re having a snowball fight with some neighborhood kids. Now imagine that all of the kids have turned against you, leaving you to fend for yourself. Also, all of the other kids are taller than you, stronger, and they each have eight arms all throwing snowballs. Some are shooting lazers at you. It’s definitely fun, but it’s an almost absurd challenge. Thankfully you are also equipped with a series of weapon and defense cards that appear on the 3DS’s bottom screen, easily being activated with a simple tap. These cards provide upgrades such as triple shot, rapid fire, or stealth, but as they only last for a short period of time and you’re limited to 16 cards per stage, your single shot is still going to be your primary weapon.

There are 15 stages, all of which are laid out in a grid and can be selected right from the beginning. Stages can be played in any order, but once you complete a stage you are limited to only playing those immediately adjacent to the one you have completed on the grid. You can also select each stage’s difficulty level right from this screen, making it easy to jump from Normal to the appropriately named Ultimate mode.

Though the layout and enemy locations are different in each stage, they all tend to look very similar, featuring a simple path for you to traverse framed by differing walls that are meant to indicate you’ve entered a new location. Work your way through the enemy littered avenues and you’ll end up at a boss battle that will make the stage itself seem like a cakewalk; despite the stages all being similar in layout and design, Kokuga is a very good looking game. The character models and bosses all look like they’ve been ripped out of a sci-fi thriller, and the 3D effect helps add a sense a depth that makes your enemies pop out and seem larger than life. The soundtrack is also fantastic, full of booming riffs that help add to the intensity of the game’s action.

Your ship is controlled using the 3DS’s Circle Pad while L and R rotate your cannon from left to right respectively; the B button fires your cannon. This control scheme can be a challenge to manage and master – especially in the more enemy-heavy portions of the game where quick actions are necessary – but enough customization is available in the controls allowing you to choose an input method that works best for you.

There is also support for local multiplayer via download play, allowing for up to three friends to join you in a stage. Co-op play is really great for overcoming particularly difficult stages, or if you just need someone to hold and cry with after being brutalized together by enemy drones. Whatever helps you sleep at night.


Kokuga looks great, plays well, and provides a devilish challenge that will leave even the most seasoned shoot ‘em up veterans scratching their heads. The stages may lack a little variety, and the controls take a bit of getting used to, but overcoming these challenges makes for an incredible payout. If you’re a fan of the genre and you’re looking for a new challenge, then this is definitely the 3DS game you’ve been waiting for.

From the web

Game Trailer

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User Comments (46)



Zach777 said:

Looks fun; will wait for it to go on sale. 15.00 for 15 levels??? Nah... Hope the sale is 7.99



gojiguy said:

Same here... I'd love to try the game, but I'm in Canada...

however, I think if I get a points card and switched my region I could buy a US eShop copy... I know I can access the US eShop I just dont know if a Canadian points card would work... I know a Canadian Credit Card does not!



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Soooo... europe's getting stumped on this one?
I like what I saw in that video, so get it over here!



ACK said:

Love the co-op download play.

About the price, this was a retail release in Japan... So it's not clear what sort of appetite they have for cutting the price further. Also, G. Rev has previously stated they'll watch how Kokuga fares before considering whether to localize the third Retro Game Challenge through the eshop. Don't know about anyone else, but I consider that some major incentive to support a successful launch.



Dyltheman said:

As a huge shmup fan, really cant wait for this to come to europe, graphics look nice but these games are all about how they play and g-rev never dissapoint.



cyrus_zuo said:

I think single player is actually rather meh. However, as a co-op game w/download play it's a great title. $15 and all 4 players can play the entire game! Fun multiplayer times!



Wintendo said:

Why the hell is this coming out in the US but not Canada? Not that it really matters much to me, as I'm not interested in it... but still, why? Don't they share the same eshop?



Magikarp3 said:

Oh goodness it's everything I could want in a shooter! Does it have CPP support? Rotating a gun with L and R sounds like a pain :/



daggdroppen said:

will buy this day one!!!! =)

this and fantasy life are the games i have been waiting for to be localisized. and now it is here



Ron_DelVillano said:

@DarkCoolEdge I actually prefer NAN, but it is much easier and shorter. And it's a Wii U game.

Did you mean Nano Assault for the 3DS? If you did, then I honestly couldn't tell you which I prefer because I haven't played either of those ones. Sorry!



HunteROB said:

It really sucks that the one game I'm interested in this week is the only one that won't come out in my country for some reason.



wasf said:

Nice review Ron, just a question: did u notice any framerate slowdowns during ur play session? thnx for ur answer!



ArkOne77 said:

I really hope Canada gets this game. It's awesome. If you like sh'mups (especially) Ikaruga then you will like this game! It plays different than Ikaruga but you can tell it was developed by the same person based on quality gameplay. Quite challenging and the soundtrack is great.



Ron_DelVillano said:

Thanks for the kind words! That's always appreciates.

@wasf I didn't notice any frame rate issues while I was playing, but if they do exist they are very minimal.



Bender said:

The game is very smooth, I've had it since the NA release, and It's safe to say it is well worth $15. The game was originally full retail in Japan, so we are practically stealing it!



StraTTtheRipper said:

I'm sure it's worth the $15, but I'm still going to wait and see if it ever goes on sale. I'd definitely pay $10 for it no questions asked. I love Ikaruga, so I'm sure this game is good.



Adam said:

The other kids always shot lasers at me in our snowball fights. I was excited about this game until I read that part. Now I am overwhelmed with memories of childhood trauma and can't think about playing video games.



ReaperX30 said:

@undead_terror Another Canadian waiting for the game. I had Ikaruga back when it came out and to get an experience like it on the 3DS is just awesome. I'll get it as soon as it's out.....well if my wallet allows me.



Adam said:

The Final Weapon is hilarity waiting to happen. We didn't know exactly how final it was and so I used it and immediately died, though we could not quite figure out how. We were scared to use it for a long time. This is a very fun game, especially with download play.

My only complaint so far is that some levels you have to explore and kill everything but if you miss one enemy, the game doesn't tell you where you need to go. It isn't as if this is Metroid. The stuff is not hidden whatsoever. It's just that there are branching paths and no radar / overlay map to show where you've been.



unrandomsam said:

I would have paid full retail for this. (Or imported it if I could).

If there was no region lock the publisher/developer would have got more money from me.



SyFyTy said:

@ACK Good Point, that's reason enough right there to buy. Retro Game was one of my favorites and has long game play for ollar value.



SyFyTy said:

Excuses be damd, I'm in the US but there's no[valid] reason this shouldn't come out in Canada too at the same time.



SyFyTy said:

Excuses be damd, I'm in the US but there's no[valid] reason this shouldn't come out in Canada too at the same time.



moroboshi said:

I just bought this from the EU store. It's essentially a tank game, and a very difficult one. Level one seems deceptively easy, but even by level two the difficulty rockets up.

It's good, but not great. I'd say a 7/10 game.



unrandomsam said:

I think this is better than anything else I have played so far on my 3DS just what I want to play just for short stretches. (Wish the 3DS had the Star Soldier or Ghost's and Goblins from the PSP though). Not bothered about £30 games that last 10 hours and you finish without even using a continue or even getting better at the game. (That seems to be most of the full price ones I have played unfortunately).



StraTTtheRipper said:

Well I finally picked it up after I got the $30 eshop credit for buying Shim and Fire and I must say, in my opinion, I don't care for this very much. Good thing I didn't technically pay for it, because I really would have been disappointed. The controls are awkward and the difficulty is hard to frustrating. Some of the stages I can't even finish them because I just get bombarded. Maybe with more practice and time, I'll appreciate it more, but as of right now, my personal honest opinion is, it's no ikaruga.

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