Summary: I spent $80 on a double-pack of Cave’s Muchi Muchi Pork and Pink Sweets when I visited Tokyo last fall. Some people might think I’m crazy for paying that much on what could easily be a $5 downloadable game. But if you’ve been bitten by the shmup bug then you know who CAVE is and why such a purchase isn’t only acceptable but absolutely necessary as a fan. There are some things money can’t buy, however, such as a way to play a region locked game on an American Xbox 360.
Summary: With a handful of levels and generic enemy types, Akai Katana is really for the score hounds. Fortunately for Cave and Rising Star, I’d say that covers the majority of shooter fans. What makes the game so successful is Cave’s toying with proximity and speed, forcing players to be aggressive in situations where it’s hard to make out just where enemies are amidst the sea of bullets and when they might be sluggish.
Excerpt: A sudden and unheralded burst of sunshine in the North of England ruled out any time devoted to catching up on recent releases. The sun was blasting down, there was a cool breeze, and the invitations for food, cocktails and IPAs were an irresistible combination. Even so, that didn’t mean entirely ignoring the next anticipated CAVE title that Rising Star Games had published. If you know what CAVE develops then you’ll know precisely what you’re getting with Akai Katana .
Excerpt: Some innovation comes from combination, “mashups” as they are fondly known in the Tech start-up world. In the gaming world, we see this with trends like Action/RPG games, where developers try to bring out the best in both genres. Other kinds of novelty arise when developers accentuate traits or characteristics of a game, such as the still legendary lineup of a game like Suikoden , if you’re old enough to remember that game.
Excerpt: Why are fighter pilots battling bombers and flying supervillains in the skies over Japan? Who knows: we don't speak Japanese, and only Akai Katana ’s ending videos offer subtitles. But that doesn't diminish the excitement of dodging bullets in this wild side-scrolling shooter. Odd as it may sound, you spend as much time gathering resources as blowing stuff up.
Pros: + Unusual resource-gathering mechanics add an absorbing layer of shape-changing strategy., + Completely insane local co-op sessions.
Cons: ? Why so few English subtitles to go with all the Japanese speech?
Conclusion: There’s no escaping the fact that Akai Katana is a Japanese shooter with wonderfully woven mechanics and an anime presentation. This drags the needle away from mass market and nestles it snugly against niche appeal, but if you’ve ever spent a few credits on Gradius, R-Type, Thunder Force, Ikaruga or anything by Cave or G.rev – and happily lost yourself in an hour or two of bullet heaven – then Akai Katana is a sturdy pair of wings that tries something a little bit...