Publisher: UFO Interactive
There are many vertical shooters out there that are all about filling the screen with bullets, giving the player no chance to dodge them. Some, like the insanely popular Espgaluda, have enjoyed success outside of Japan, where these games are a standard. One issue with these shoot-em-up games is that there is such little variety with controls and weapon power-ups that many of them begin to look the same. Mamorukun Curse! attempts to break the standard shoot and dodge gameplay with a few tweaks here and there, but ultimately still feels like a typical SHUMP experience.
A group of recently deceased magicians (I'm guessing) have been given the task of ridding the neither world of a dark curse. You select one of seven available characters and charge into a hopeless battle of one verses a million. With the odds against you, you rely on the countless power-ups scattered all around to quickly strengthen your weapons so you can make your way to the area boss. To be honest, like most games in this genre, you don't look for a deep narrative. The only thing I took from the supposed story was that each magician has different ways to attack the onslaught of enemies. Some can use homing attacks, while others can fire in eight directions. Since all of the available characters are unlocked from the start, (including two previously DLC only characters from the Japanese version) you can play with each character in order to find the one that works for you. You also have can choose between two different costumes for your character, but I didn't see the appeal of this since your character sprites in game are rather small and shown from overhead, plus the different costumes do not effect the characters play style.
Gameplay is basically shoot or be shot, as you will spend all of your time dodging barrage after barrage of bullets while trying to power up your shots and progress through the play field. Control is altered from other SHUMPS as you use both analog sticks, one to move around and the other to fire. The screen also does not auto scroll, so you can make strategic movements around the play field. This small change is a welcome addition to the genre and really gives you a feeling of more control over the battle.
A standard attack in games like this is the bomb, or screen clearing attack, and Mamorukun Curse! does things a bit different here. The bomb attack is replaced by the Curse Bullet, a unique weapon that works two ways to help players gain the upper hand quickly. One way you can use it is to fire it directly at a larger enemy to weaken or destroy it depending on how long you hold the launch button down. This will "curse" the enemy and all of it's shots will be blocked or turn into collectible points (in the form of candy that floats around the screen). Another way is to fire it quickly, which opens the "Curse Formation" and after the player enters the circle, you get a small power boost that can clear the screen of enemies and bullets quickly. These Curse Bullets are unlimited so you can use them often in a stage as well as many times against the area bosses. The boss fights range from push overs to mildly challenging. In most cases, you actually have more of a challenge getting to the boss than you do against it.
There are different modes available to choose from, you have a story mode where, as mentioned earlier, is largely forgettable. A straightforward Arcade mode with unlimited continues, and various challenge modes that feature slightly altered versions of the Arcade and Story mode stages. No matter what mode you dive into, you will notice the game is very short, with only five different stages offered, but this is somewhat typical of an arcade style shooter like this. You will have fun, it just won't last too long.
The graphics look nice, but are somewhat dated when compared to other shooters that came before. Nothing looks terrible, just maybe a little rough around the edges. The characters look like your basic cute anime style characters with strange outfits and oversized features, while most of the enemies you will encounter look menacing and scary. Strangely, the mix of cute and dark works well here, and is reminiscent of games like Deathsmiles. I did encounter many instances of bad slowdown when too much action is on the screen, which reminded me of some early Sega Dreamcast SHUMPS, but it wasn't frequent and seem to happen at random. Sound is well done with all the familiar explosions and blasting effects most games of this type contain. All voice work is in Japanese (subtitles are provided for the Story Mode) so occasionally you will hear the cute little voices of the heroes as they are overwhelmed by walls of bullets and giant skulls. Music is nothing special, but it doesn't sound out of place for any stage. It's definitely not a soundtrack you will be running out to buy after hearing it in game.
Mamorukun Curse is an arcade shooter that can be enjoyed by pros and newbies alike. It's good for a quick play session or two while waiting for a download to complete, but not good for a long running challenge. I did see a few really difficult Trophies you can obtain that may provide some players with replay value, but everyone else will most likely play through it once and move on. While not a bad game, it's not very memorable and may be forgotten in a sea of other available shooters on the PS3. Hardcore players will breeze through this in no time, while novice players looking to get into the genre will find a decent, yet not overbearing, challenge with good controls, and solid gameplay. A worthy effort from the folks at G.Rev.