Choice Provisions has established a reputation for putting out some high quality, but weird games such as the BIT.TRIP Saga and Woah Dave!. Shütshimi is the latest title to be published by the studio, and while there are some issues with shallow gameplay, the retro-inspired strangeness of the whole affair makes for an entertaining and enjoyable game.
Gameplay in Shütshimi is fast, simple and responsive, yet dynamic and even somewhat strategic. The main game mode pits you against endless waves of aquatic themed enemies in rapid-fire, ten second bursts of standard sidescrolling shmup action. In between these waves is where things get interesting; you go through "Shop Time", which requires you to choose one of three potential upgrades or modifiers that will impact the next wave. These can do things such as change your main weapon or hat, speed up or slow down gameplay, or place your goldfish inside a giant bouncy castle.
An item's effect is indicated by a short phrase that appears somewhere within its brief description – such as how "lousy cameraperson" means that the view will be rotated 180 degrees - and the player is only given ten seconds to choose one of the three items. This helps keep with the fast paced nature of the gameplay, putting plenty of pressure on the gamer to find, recognize and decide on which effect will be most beneficial for the upcoming round. There are plenty of interesting modifiers to be utilized here, and the cosmetic hats occasionally have additional effects, such as a cat that can be thrown at enemies repeatedly.
This Warioware-esque approach keeps things fresh and interesting, although it doesn't completely cover over the somewhat shallow nature of gameplay. While one never really tires of mowing down loads of laser sharks and cat submarines, round thirty is scarcely a much different experience than round two. Sure, it's faster and features more enemies, but it still would've been nice to have seen a bit more variety in enemies and gameplay options. That being said, the diversity of the modifiers and upgrades prevents the experience from getting too stale.
Naturally, the 8-bit graphics are top notch, and they're backed by some catchy tunes. Sprites are animated and drawn in a very detailed manner, and the colourful artstyle makes the action really pop off the screen. The music is quirky and upbeat, perfectly matching the flippant and playful tone of the overall experience. Make no mistake about it, this is a game that's just as fun to watch as it is to play.
In terms of replayability there's plenty to keep players coming back, though its dependent on how much you enjoy the core gameplay. Obviously, there's always going to be a higher score to beat, but there are also forty-six hats to collect and thirty-two 'Awardments' to unlock. On top of this up to four players can play co-op locally, making it an excellent couch multiplayer game. Generally speaking you'll be doing a lot of grinding if you want to get everything possible out of this game, but if it hooks you that's hardly a chore.
Ultimately, Shütshimi is a fun game that's both flashy and engaging. The breakneck pace of endless waves of enemies combined with a quirky and bizarre sense of humour make for a good time whether you're playing alone or with a couple of friends. While the gameplay isn't terribly deep and it gets repetitive in longer sessions, there's plenty here to keep gamers coming back for more. We'd recommend that you pick this game up, it's a great retro shooter with a neat twist.