Raiden V: Director’s Cut feels right at home along with all the numerous other bullet hell shmups currently available on the system. It pays homage to the classic series while also introducing several welcome new features that manage to outweigh its few unfortunate shortcomings. Unfortunately, you can't (at the time of writing, at least) rotate the screen and play this TATE-orientated shooter in a Flip Grip the way nature intended, but we still recommend it for both newcomers to the franchise or the genre itself; those looking for a game to experience all the thrills that a bullet hell blaster can offer. Veteran players need not feel left out either since you can easily customise the difficulty within the game’s options and getting to fight the last true boss of the game will require a super-human level of skill. A great package for a great price; can we have the rest of the Raiden series now, please?
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As a solo experience, this indie shmup won’t win many over with its familiar twin-stick formula, but as a couchplay experience it’s one of the most fun spins on the genre we've played on Nintendo Switch. Whether in two-player or with five folks involved, Aperion Cyberstorm is another confident slice of shooter fun from Britain’s burgeoning indie dev scene.
Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax is an incredibly fun and action-packed game that you can enjoy with up to three friends and boasts plenty of options that can be tweaked to make the experience as easy or challenging as you'd like. Throw in some engaging extra modes, great presentation and a healthy dose of self-aware humour and you've got a package that will keep you entertained for quite some time.
Sky Force Reloaded is a fun shmup with a good variety of dangers to deal with and one that gives you a number of options to deal with them. Stages can be tough, but when you nearly make it you'll want to dive back in and try again, certain you know how to do better this time around. Sometimes you'll be forced to replay them in order to proceed further in the game, whether that's grinding for stars or looking to achieve a medal, although that can still feel fresh due to tackling the stages a different way. The thrill of finally beating a tricky level can be dampened by the realisation you need to go pick up a handful of medals however, but it can be fun to return to a previously tricky stage and ease through thanks to an improved craft. Sky Force Reloaded may force you to spend time with it and feel like a grind as a result, but for the most part, the time invested is enjoyable.
Star Ghost's pick-up-and-play sensibilities and arcade roots fit perfectly on a system you can dip into at a moment’s notice. It has a learning curve that makes for a satisfying experience, where only having one control to deal with makes it feel as if you have all the control in the world. It is a bit one note, but what it lacks in variety it makes up in giving you a game you can sink all your efforts into; you only have to focus on the what’s in front of you. Not having an online or shared leaderboards is a miss for a title like this, but it doesn’t take away from the experience as a whole. Star Ghost is one of the most enjoyable - and turbulent - trips you can take through the stars.
Aqua Kitty UDX is a simple, satisfying arcade shooter that looks as great as it plays. It takes one concept, offers a few different angles on it, and ensures it fulfils all that it sets out to do. It's a bit of a one trick pony, though, which means that those of you that aren’t big on score chasing games may want to steer clear. Even so, Aqua Kitty UDX is a game that exemplifies the concept of less is more; we’d encourage you to give this one a look.
Last Resort may be a little rough around the edges in places - the broken two-player mode being the most obvious example - but it's still one of the best shooters on the Neo Geo and a solid purchase for Switch-owning blaster fans. The impeccable presentation really makes the game stand out from the hordes of similar titles, and it's challenging enough to ensure that you won't have it licked in the space of an evening. Casual players may find it a little too stern a test - especially with the checkpoint system which forces you to re-play sections of the game upon death - but serious shooter addicts will be totally at home.
Rival Megagun may fall short of the standards set by genre masterworks like Cave's Ketsui, Seibu Kaihatsu's Raiden Fighters Jet or Raizing's Battle Garegga, but those are some of the finest pieces of game design of all time, and failing to meet their lofty standards doesn't stop Spacewave's creation being a tremendously fun and rather distinct shmup that really does offer something fresh, and serves as a great demonstration of the Switch's multiplayer prowess in the process.
It seems almost customary to include the phrase 'Not for everyone' when discussing shmups, and while that certainly applies to Devil Engine, it has at least been designed in a way that encourages even the weakest players to keep trying and learn from their mistakes. The drip-feed of content is an effective incentive to pick yourself up and have just one more go, and although it is at times brutally difficult – even when compared to other tricky 2D shooters – it has the depth and variety to maintain your interest, and when you're at a competent level it's a heck of a lot of fun. The lack of online leaderboards goes against it, but if you're a fan of this style of game – and you're crying out for a title in the Thunder Force vein – then Devil Engine is well worth a look.
Hyper Sentinel is 'neo-retro' executed to perfection. Once you accept that the visual and audio directions are both design choices made to pay tribute to the original Commodore 64 game and sit down to take on your first Super-Dreadnought, you’ll be hooked. Every time you get a 'Game Over', the only thing on your mind will be on how to prevent whatever got the best of you in preparation of your next sortie (while, at the same, time browsing the leaderboards to see how your friends are faring in each level).
Aero Fighters 2 is an easy recommendation thanks to its varied locales, multiple piloting options, large roster of enemies entertaining boss battles and multiple endings. Throw in 2-player and the usual Hi-Score and Caravan modes and what's not to like? The sequel is also available, although with its fixed-pairings for 2-player mode we'd download Aero Fighters 2 first and go from there.
Psikyo's Samurai Aces plays a lot like its Gunbird and Strikers titles. As they were both great shmups, however, seven more levels in that style is no bad thing. Dealing with attacks and utilising your own offensive options leads to varied and enjoyable gameplay and the changing pace of combat keep you on your toes as you anticipate the next attack. With no credit/life limited mode included, the hi score leaderboard is flawed unless you and those using your Switch agree on what settings to use. It's a well-put-together shmup, however, so whether playing alone or with a friend Samurai Aces is fun to replay whenever you choice to boot it up.