I ain’t afraid of no ghosts
The latest shmup to grace the eShop is Ghost Blade in the subcategory of bullet-hell. Originally released on Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One, it is now available on Nintendo Switch and fellow lovers of the genre are pleased. This is my first bullet-hell to review and I’m excited to check it out but I know I won’t be the best. Let’s gather our thoughts before the clutter of bullets consume us.
“Wow” is the first impression of Ghost Blade
Right out of the gate it’s bright, vibrant colours that dazzle the screen with contrast and excitement. Paired with upbeat music that reminds me of Jet Set Radio, the duo create an uplifting feeling that drives the game forward. If I felt down about not doing well in bullet hell, the positive vibe Ghost Blade gives off certainly brought me back for another run. That beauty is directly followed with intensity in gameplay.
With each increase in difficulty, so will the intensity. In the midst of any bullet hell you may ask yourself, how did I get here? Playing in Tate mode with my flip grip was my preferred method but a few plays were interrupted by my friend’s online notifications. Playing in handheld mode was still fine, I’m a novice and I thought there was no clear advantage to either. Getting cornered is never a good idea even though the game allows you to move a bit off-screen. I couldn’t always move my ship out of harm’s way when moving upward. It’s a steep learning curve in this subgenre and one I haven’t yet mastered.
Ship mobility surprised me
Initially I figured that since this screen would be filled with enemies at any given time, movement would be slow. This is not the case. Ship speed is quick but hold down the Y button to focus which will engage all shots in a narrow range while slowing movement. Focus is a more powerful shot and graceful speed for strong enemies and crowded areas. Hit B to lay down a bomb to clear the area.
At the end of each area your score is multiplied by a number of factors. The important thing to keep in mind is, don’t use your bombs, collect everything, and don’t stop killing enemies.
- Stage stars
- Tech Orbs
- Max Combo
- Bombs Remaining
- Lives Remaining
Each of these multipliers will add to your total score. The game encourages the player to get by without bombs to say ‘hey, do better’ and I like that. Use less help and earn a bigger score. This is the big leagues after all.
Ghost Blade is difficult for me so I imagine it may push some new players away from the genre but keep it mind there are three difficulty modes. I started on easy, then moved to normal and hard. Once I played those for a bit I tried score attach. That is essentially one level to try and get your best score with.
Initial shots aren’t satisfying because there is no pause for explosion and big sound effect to follow with each defeated enemy. Everyone has a comical sound to silence them into defeat and each enemy is gone so fast it’s just a slew of the sound without the relief of their disappearance. One thing I will say is that certain enemies layout dozens and dozens of shots. Once they are done for, their massive strain of bullets go away and that is both satisfying and relieving.
Replayability is relatively high. The difficulty is steep in normal and hard move but returning to the game isn’t too off-putting. Score attack will have people coming back for more to try and best their score. I can’t tell if it’s just because of the embargo but the leaderboard is stuck to your own scores. An online leaderboard would make this feature both worthwhile and satisfying.
Ghost Blade is my initial taste of the bullet-hell subgenre of shmups but it won’t be my last. I’m lucky to have found such a beautiful game to begin this journey with a for that I’m thankful. Yes, it is difficult but with that comes high satisfaction from winning. The controls feel good and the game supports Tate mode which I am a fan of. I could easily recommend this to my shmup friends but otherwise a bit of caution to those new to the shmup genre entirely.
Review code provided
Release Date: 24/10/2019
No. of Players: 1-2
File Size: 956 MB
Category: Shooter, Action, Arcade
Developer: Hucast Games, 2Dream
Download link: eShop