Okay, I'm back to talk more about Castle of Shikigami III. Last time, I discussed the characters, and I went through the first part of the story. I fear the worst has yet to come. So, I boot up the game, and I start playing...
Hey, where's my save file? Where is it? I can't see it anywhere! There's no save file selection! What... what the Hell?
On closer inspection, there are, in fact, no save files in this game. Does that mean you must always start over? Actually, no. A quick look at the options gave me the answer I was looking for. You see, this game's save system works differently from other games. What happens is that you first have to toggle on the save feature in the Options menu. After that, you can play, and each time you play, it gets saved on your Wii's memory. When you quit playing, and then come back, you must first go back to the Options menu and select Load Save, which will load the save file placed in your Wii memory. And THEN you can keep playing. You must do that every time you play this damn game. I've been smart enough to search for this, and I found it, but there's nothing in the game that indicates that it worked that way. Someone who doesn't go take a look at the options menu would not know about this cheap, cheap save system.
Now that my save file has loaded, let's keep playing.
|An example with Gennojo Hyuuga and Roger Sasuke.|
The voice work is pretty good. Also, it's not “cutscenes” per se, but the characters are shown as still images with their lines written at the bottom of the screen, and the image will change according to their emotion; those still images are almost treated as collectibles. However, sometimes the voice actors will add a little something that isn't written.
Okay, enough time wasted, let's jump into the rest of this story.
|Those walls... those goddamn walls!|
|Tsukiko. See? They look like family!|
...Phew, that was one big outburst... Anyway, this is why the game doesn't work on the story aspect. If we consider all scenarios to be based on the same facts, then this just creates a half-dozen plot holes that will never be answered. And we STILL haven't found the disappeared people! It's worse than that: Not all scenarios follow the same story, so as a result you can never tell which ones are part of the same canon. If there's even a continuing storyline AT ALL! How can you trust a story that changes 54 times? …Screw this game. Screw it, screw it, screw it.
|Proving my point: The game is in the center, then we have a|
vertical bar on each side. This causes the important info to
be smaller on the screen, and thus causes much problems.
Talking about the controls... Why are all those shooter games better on a computer? Because you can choose to control your character with the mouse, which will give you a lot more precision when the time comes to avoid the bullets tossed at you. It's easier to carefully manipulate the character with the mouse than with the keyboard's arrows. And a video game controller's directional pad is just like a keyboard's arrow buttons. It's imprecise, the character might go past where you want it to go and wind up hitting another bullet beyond the safety zone you want it to reach. That's why vertical AND horizontal shooters don't work well on home consoles. The mouse is the best control method for these games, with the left button to shoot and the space bar to use the Bomb Move! And really, I can't count the number of times this happened to me: Losing a hit point because the character went past the safe zone and was hit on the other side by a bullet. And that's not counting all those times when the bullets can't even be avoided, which means you're clearly losing a hit point! Damn! Plus, the character and bullets are so small that it's guaranteed you'll often raise from your chair yelling “Hey! I didn't see that shot!” Also, your life meter and your bombs replenish with your score, and it becomes especially painful when you reach zones where you're guaranteed to get hit often and yet receive too little points to regenerate. Okay, I'll admit, that whole "controlling with the mouse" is more a pet peeve of mine with these games... but my point still stands: Controlling the character with the directional pad is more troublesome.
Now, now, all this covers the main problems with the game. Now, let's see what else is available in this game. What are the game modes?
- Regular 1-Player game (You can also choose to play a character with his second color);
- 2-Player game;
- Dramatic Change mode, where you play two characters are once and can switch back and forth between both;
- Practice Mode, which lets you try a zone from a level (pre-mid-boss level, mid-boss, pre-boss level, boss). This is how I could try Levels 4 and 5 without actually reaching them in the game itself.
- Finally, Boss Attack Mode, which pits you against all bosses (including the mid-bosses of the game) with ONLY ONE LIFE.
|Developers' Content, if you wish.|
Whichever way, Reika approves.
Last but not least, the options. You can do the usual stuff, like changing the volume of the voices, the music and the sound effects, setting the difficulty setting (Which I did, and yet the game is still hard as Hell), and set the score required to re-gain lost Hit Points and Bombs. You can also use it to switch the game from a vertical flight shooter to a horizontal flight... but as I said earlier, it's just the game spun 90 degrees and the controls becoming a bigger mess. You can also turn the auto-save feature On or Off, save the current settings, load the game's data saved on your Wii, assign the attacks to other buttons on the Wiimote or the Classic Controller, and get extra options – for which you must first finish the damn game.
Well, that covers pretty much everything. Final diagnosis? This game is BAD. It has an awful story that never really gets resolved entirely, instead leaving many more plot holes behind. The characters are all either overused archetypes or absurdly powerful, and the instruction booklet gives them abilities that we never see in the game. The controls are sloppy, especially on the movement, because the directional pad makes it hard to correctly avoid the enemy fire. And though you can make the game easier, it remains overly difficult. But, it doesn't just have bad points. It does give a good challenge if you're talented enough, the humor can be very funny at some points, especially with the first boss, and the images, both the backgrounds and the still images that serve as cutscenes are gorgeous. The Gallery Mode is a nice thought. Not to mention that it's really impressive that the development team wrote 55 different scenarios to fit the 10 characters and 45 Dramatic Change Mode possibilities (though, granted, it creates lots of contradictions and plot holes the size of Mars), and the voice actors did a good job voicing these ten characters - and the five bosses! - in all 55 scenarios.
So, all in all, I think I can't be too mad at this game. My final word is that if I was the kind of guy to insult video games, this one would have been going through my own Bullet Hell of insults. But I'm too nice a guy, so I'll just say that it's not my cup of tea, and those who can look beyond the game's many, many problems will find a great vertical shooter that will force them to play wisely.
|J... J... Jesus. Now that's some heavy Bullet Hell. Just wait|
till those bullets add upp... and add up... and add up...
Read you later! Next Friday, a game that will make me relax after this stressful experience.