Expand your arsenal on your path to victory. Shoot1Up DX - Xbox one Review

Review by : Kyleia 

I was offered “Shoot 1UP DX” to review and I’ll admit - at first I was reluctant. The game is a “shoot-em-up” or SHMUP - and I don’t tend to gravitate toward that genre often. I have a deep respect for Ikaruga (a similar game) and it’s punishing difficulties. I own every released iteration, going way back to Dreamcast and have spent many hours stubbornly dying in an effort to make forward progress.

I believe in indie games and their ability to showcase a different experience and take risks. It wasn’t fair of me to judge without giving the game a legitimate chance. And I’m SO glad I did. 



What is it?

Games of this genre tend to come in several flavors. Some, the background moves with you. Others, you go from left to right. Still others, you free-roam. For the most part, Shoot 1UP DX sticks with the conventional - you progress through the level flying from bottom to top. You may have also heard these types of games referred to as Arcade Shooters or Bullet Hell Shooters. 

Shoot 1UP was originally released in 2010 on the Xbox 360 and 2015 on Steam. It received very positive reviews. Shoot 1UP DX is a refined, retuned version of the game for the newer generation of systems. Despite the 8-bit style graphics, you can definitely see a positive improvement between the 2010 and 2020 versions.



Story

Onto the good stuff. The story of Shoot 1UP DX is about….. Um…. Uhh... there was a story? Kidding aside, there is basically no story. There’s an intro scene when you start the game, and an outro when you complete it. That’s about all you get. However, I am a firm believer that in many cases solid gameplay can help us to overlook a game with little to no story element.




Game Play

Here’s the important part. Since there’s no story, does the gameplay hold up? Short answer: Yes.

Shoot 1UP DX gives you a basic tutorial of “This is what these buttons do” and then lets you loose. On an Xbox controller, it is as follows. A fires your weapon, B is your brake, LT/LB contracts and RT/RB expands. 

“I’m sorry, contracts? Expands?” you’re asking yourself… 

This is where the game begins to differentiate itself from other SHMUPS. It has some unique features I haven’t seen before.



~Ship Count~ Honestly - this is one of the coolest features of the game. When you are rewarded with a 1UP, instead of adding another life, you get another ship. UP TO THIRTY! The more ships you have, the more power you have. Every 5 ships you get an upgrade. You start just being able to shoot forward but once you have the maximum number of ships you are shooting left, right, behind, and diagonally forward! Be careful though, if you get hit - you lose one of your ships. Get hit too many times and it’ll be Game Over!

~Contract/Expand Mechanic~ So what do you do with all those ships? You get fancy! Using the right trigger expands your ships. You can decide how far to expand them and how comfortable you are based on the obstacles on screen. The more you expand, the stronger your weapons are - including a “Plasma Auger” which is basically a giant cannon of gunfire shooting straight out from your ship. It decimates enemies. Tread lightly though, you have more firepower but you are also more vulnerable when you’re using the Auger. Gotta get through a tight space? Hold the left trigger to contract the ships so they are stacked on top of each other. Great for maneuvering, but you lose firepower. Another sneaky thing? If you’re more expanded (up to 10 ships) the more points you’ll get each time you kill an enemy. And you get even more if you use your shield to kill them! 

~Shields~ There’s a cool feature with the shields that I personally haven’t seen before (I won’t claim it’s never been done, though!) If you stop firing your ship gets a shield around it. You’re vulnerable because you’re not firing, but you can hit A once the shield appears to cause an explosion. It will do heavy damage or kill any ship the shield is touching! There’s even an achievement for exploding 50 ships in this manner.

~Branching Paths~ As you progress through the levels, there are multiple paths you can take. You choose the side of the screen of that path you want to pursue. Interestingly, each path changes how the game plays for that section. Your standard progression is to go forward, and if you prefer that, keep choosing the left side of the screen. The alternate paths are harder, and force you to move backward or even free roam. Free roam completely whacks the direction of your bullets and I found it to be very difficult.

~Difficulty~ Speaking of difficult, there are 4 difficulty levels. 3 are for the main campaign: Chilled, Normal, and Serious. I played Chilled for most of my time and found that the most achievement friendly mode to work in. If you are having difficulties with the speed of the game (or trying to do something like get to 30 ships) there’s an option to adjust the scroll speed. I found this very helpful for sidestepping obstacles, but it is significantly slower and causes the campaign to take longer. Finally, the side mode is called Score Trek and is very challenging. I tried Score Trek a couple of times and it’s just too much for my old reflexes. In Score Trek, you have only one ship. Anything you collect (score, 1UPs, etc) all go to progress your existing ship - but it’s also a one-hit kill. Great if you’re looking to spike the difficulty. 

~Co-Op Play~ The coop mode is madness. Take everything I just mentioned and double it. You can have up to 60 ships. It was somewhat difficult to keep track of what was happening on the screen, but fun. Once you get to 60 ships, the system *does* start to hitch a little. Nothing out of control, but the amount of enemies, ships, and bullets on the screen seems to tax the game.

~Ship Options~ There are two ships in the game. The “Caduceus” is your default ship, and will shoot forward by default, gaining back, left and right after you increase your ship count. After some work and exploration, you can unlock a different ship - The “Ovoid”. This ship behaves very differently than the Caduceus, with the bullets being momentum-based, completely changing how you move through the levels. Each ship has its advantages. The Caduceus’ shield explosion is stronger, but it is slower and is physically larger. The Ovoid’s bullets are harder to control but it has a smaller footprint, moves faster, and has more firepower.


I also discovered (on accident) that if you’re willing to spam-press the shoot button, that you can keep up a steady stream of fire. This is very useful if you are going for all the achievements, like “don’t lose any ships” - especially with the unlockable ship. However, you do lose the awesome power of the Augur. Pick your poison!



Achievements

The achievements run the gamut between easy and extremely difficult. There is actually an in-game interface where you can view which achievements you have (white text) or haven’t (gold text) earned. I feel that could have been handled a little better. If you are not good at SHMUPs, you may be only looking to complete about half of these. The interface does list approximate difficulties of the achievements, which I thought was really refreshing. They ranged from ** for easier achievements to *****! For the really hard ones. Reach level 5 in Score Trek is considered one of the hardest in the game. 



Final Thoughts

I won’t lie to you - the game is short. I want to say I finished all six levels in less than 30 minutes. There’s replayability there, but only if you’re willing to play higher difficulties, push for achievements, or play Score Trek. 

The music isn’t bad (I’d listen to it outside of the game!) however after 9 hours of it, it did start getting a little old. 

The difficulty made it easy to choose one that fit me and my skill level. The controls were smooth, and I didn’t feel like there was a glitchy or unfair moment in the game - with exception of my own poor motor skills! There was a level in the game that made me wonder what the rating was (a half dressed woman is a boss and uses her, um, ta-tas to shoot at you), but you can actually change something in the settings to make sure she is fully clothed. 

I spent approximately nine hours with the game on an Xbox One X and played the campaign 13+ times, as well as trying out the “Score Trek” mode. I unlocked 16/17 achievements for a total of 950 gamerscore.

I’m a sucker for games with gimmicks that make them cool or unique, and in the end I was pleasantly surprised.

TLDR

Pros:
+Unique Mechanics
+Tight Controls
+Varying Difficulties
+Music

Cons
-Short
-Limited Replayability


Game Information

Title: Shoot 1UP DX
Website: http://mommysbestgames.com/shoot1up.html
Developer: Mommy’s Best Games
Publisher: Mommy’s Best Games
Release Date: 4 December 2020
Platforms:Xbox one, Nintendo Switch,Playstation4, PC (Steam)
Review platform: Xbox One
Price at launch: $5.99 USD
ESRB: E10+ Fantasy violence, suggestive themes.
 
about : Kyleia is an avid achievement chaser with a burning love for all games of nautical, seafaring and pirate adventure. She can be found streaming her achievements hunts, checking out indie games and building craft projects on twitch.tv/Kyleia.


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