Rise & Shine Review
"It's dangerous to go alone" is just one of many, many video game references you'll find in Rise & Shine, a game that not only channels game history but classic side-scrolling shooter gameplay. Rise is a young boy whose planet of Gamearth is under assault from the evil forces of the planet Nexgen. Rise crosses paths with Gamearth's greatest hero just as the hero receives a mortal injury. The hero hands his weapon to Rise before dying, a sentient gun named Shine, with the instructions to deliver it to the king. Thus begins Rise's quest to fight his way through the invading forces to hand Shine to the king and save Gamearth.
If you play puzzle-platformers, then you'll be familiar with the approach Rise & Shine takes to gameplay. While it's certainly a side-scrolling shooter, it's by no means a Metal Slug clone. Making your way through a level essentially requires solving a puzzle or winning a battle and then scrolling a screen or two to the right until you reach the next one. Many of the puzzles in the game are battle-based - determining enemy weak spots and attack patterns, using the environment to eliminate an enemy, and that sort of thing - but there are other puzzles to solve such as how to open a door barring your way. Solving these puzzles invariably requires using Shine and selecting from its two bullet types - regular and electric - and fire modes - standard and radio-controlled. Electric bullets are effective against robotic enemies and various control panels and the like, while regular bullets are better against biological enemies and can be used to destroy obstacles. Standard fire mode sends the projectile in a straight line in the direction of fire, but in radio-control mode you can control the speed and direction of the projectile. With the latter mode you have a limited range over which you can control the bullet, represented by a translucent circle on the screen, but in some areas you can take advantage of range extenders to reach farther or in different directions. If you accidentally steer your bullet out of a control zone, it will fall harmlessly to the ground.
I found the game more enjoyable when facing sequences that were more puzzle-like and less shooter-like. I enjoy shooters, even the bullet hell variety, but in Rise & Shine the battles are a little frustrating. It's a little too difficult to aim your weapon and a limited magazine size coupled with a slow reload time make wasted shots potentially fatal mistakes. Also, Rise has a limited set of moves and moves more slowly with his gun drawn which combine to make the fights in the bullet rich environments pretty challenging, more so in the frustrating way than in the put your skills to the test way. The sequences that are purely gunfights feel less strategic and more like trials in which a lot of luck stands between you and advancing to the next screen. With Rise limited primarily to lateral movement with only a small boosted jump available, and with cover that fails to provide cover from all weapon types, it's difficult to avoid what too often feel like cheap deaths. Boss battles magnify these issues as they force you to get through multiple rounds alive, and if you fail everything gets reset to the beginning. Boss battles will take you some time to get through, not so much because you'll need to work out the strategies to defeat them but more so because it's going to take a lot of luck to get through a flawless battle.
It's a shame that the battles can so often be frustrating in the game, because everything else about it is enjoyable. The hand-drawn artwork is fantastic, the video game references enjoyable, and the story a lot of fun. However, unless you have a high tolerance for frustration it's doubtful that the game's positives will be enough to drive you to play it all the way through.
Final Rating: 68% - It's just too frustrating to be fun.