The release of this game on the 3DS eShop is a bit of a strange occurrence. Summer Carnival '92 Recca was, as you might guess from its odd name, created for a shoot 'em up game competition held in 1992, exclusively in Japan. It was only available from those competitions, so the supply was quite limited and, as a result, not very many copies were sold, making it one of the rarest Famicom games around — complete copies go for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
Despite its relative obscurity, it's quite well known among fans of the genre, because despite its limited distribution it was the product of plenty of hard work. The fact it's now available for such a small amount of money is already a great plus.
Like many other shoot 'em ups, and especially ones created for competitions, Recca has multiple modes of play. There's the main option in which you just try to beat the game, a time attack mode in which you try to get one million points in 5 minutes, and a score attack mode in which you try to get the highest possible score within two minutes. Nicely enough, the two extra modes feature completely different stages from the main game, although they bear some graphical resemblance, so be sure to check them out as well.
The main game only has four stages, but they're some of the toughest you'll ever see in a shoot 'em up. Huge barrages of enemies will fly at you right from the start, and bosses will fire bullets and lasers all over, some even employing extra tricks like shots that will pull you towards or push you away from them.
Luckily, your ship is pretty well-equipped as well, also firing shots all over the screen, but like any true shoot 'em up a single bullet will kill you, so be careful. There are a number of different items to pick up that change your main weapon as well as give you additional side turrets, so find what works best and stick with it! If you can somehow find a moment to stop firing and survive for a while, you'll also automatically start charging an energy ball which, when fired, will explode and destroy any enemies, as well as dealing huge damage to bosses.
If you manage to survive, which can take quite a bit of practice if you don't use copious amounts of save states, it has a surprise in store for you — there's a second quest you can start which features harder versions of the four levels you just played, with an additional three new stages at the end. If you can reach the end of this as well, you can definitely label yourself a genre pro.
In terms of graphics and music, Recca is quite impressive. It features a number of cool background effects and has screens full of enemies pretty much all the time, but there isn't even the slightest hint of lag, which is pretty much unheard of for a Famicom game. The music is also quite advanced for its original platform with lots of layers, another thing which you didn't find often in Famicom titles. Amazingly enough, it didn't even use any special chips to allow better graphics or music, so this was achieved with programming skills alone.
Because it was intended purely for competitions featuring expert players, it's hard to recommend Recca to anybody but the most die-hard fans of the genre. Despite this, however, it is easily one of best and most impressive shoot 'em up games made for the system, and anybody who isn't afraid of a challenge (or using save states a lot) will find this a more than worthy pickup.