Shmup Collection (Switch) | Review

If you’re hankering for some more shoot-’em-ups, Then Astro Port’s Shmup Collection just might quench your thirst. This bundle is made up of Armed 7 DX, Satazius Next, and Wolflame, all of which have been released separately. Only now, they’re all part of a single, affordable package on the Switch. Each title is a blast to play – pun possibly intended – and there’s enough content in each to help each one stand out from another.

Armed 7 DX is a horizontal side-scroller that has you piloting a mech suit across seven levels. You’ll be thrown into the action straight away, as ships, aircraft and hundreds of projectiles fly on-screen. Altering the difficulty will have a notable effect on the enemy count here, so it’s accommodating enough for newbies or veterans alike. However, the boss battles will still be fairly easy to fight against. While their attacks are easy to maneuver around, they still have some hefty health bars to pad out these battles. 

The bosses in Satazius Next seem to go down without too much effort. Their attack patterns are no joke, though.

You’ll get to pick one of four main weapons, along with a sub weapon that’ll fire at a fairly slower rate. Since the direction that they fire varies, it’s best to mix-and-match. For instance, the assault rifle is a straight-shooting weapon, while the SMG has a bit of spread to it. The sub-weapons like the grenade and gatling gun fire projectiles at an upward or downward angle, respectively. Then there’s the charge weapon, of which recharge at a fairly quick pace and can turn foes into scrap with ease. Choose wisely, as you’ll be stuck with them until the game ends.

What helps this one stand apart from other titles in its genre is its aiming scheme, which may take a bit of getting used to. The gun will tilt up or down, depending on the direction you move, though they’ll freeze in place when you continuously fire. While you can invert the controls in the menu, you can’t fiddle around with them mid-game, and it doesn’t save your preference when you boot up the game again. Bit of a piss-take, but it’s still a handy gimmick.

Save these beauties for crowd-control and boss battles. They won’t let you down.

You have a limited number of lives. Getting hit will rob you of a bar of health. Once you go down, it’s game over – there are no continues. However, items dropped from destroyed cargo ships can be collected to power up both your weapons and shield. There are no other ways to get more lives, so you’ll need to rely on the shield collectibles. In any case, even though it’s the shortest title on offer, it’s still a promising title that’s well worth revisiting in order to try out the different weapon combos. 

The second game, Satazius Next, plays more like a traditional side-scroller. Similarly to before, you can pick from a main and sub weapon, alongside a special attack. While there are fewer of the latter, the projectiles fly out in more directions, and can even travel across walls. Even only can new ones be unlocked as you progress, but you can even upgrade them if you keep using them in combat. Note that your progress with these won’t save over if you quit the game, but at least you can change your arsenal in between each level.

You can unlock emblems in Armed 7 DX. Not entirely sure what they do, if anything.

The manic things that take place in this game will really pump up the difficulty. You’ll be chased through a cave, travelling through an asteroid field, avoiding crushers, and travelling in-and-out of wormholes. A large number of continues are on offer, yet your ship will go down with a single hit – good thing you’ll be able to swipe some speed boosters and shields along the way. Still, while there are checkpoints that you can resume progress from, these are usually placed right before some of these tricky sections. Replaying these can be exasperating.

The interesting thing about these two titles is that they come with the original versions of each game, of which were released on the Sega Dreamcast. Unless you’ve got a hankering sense of nostalgia for these titles or the not-so-beloved console from aeons ago, there’s really no benefit to choosing these over the remakes, which have better visuals. 

The original versions still look alright and play optimally, much like their respective remakes.

The final title is Wolflame, a shmup from a top-down perspective. This is easily the best-looking title of them all with some fantastic explosion effects and detailed environments. The soundtrack, however, is incredibly short, being made up of 20-second loops that fade out and start again during the action.

The arsenal is a lot smaller, too. There are homing missiles, lock-on lasers, and energy blasters to pair up alongside your ship’s machineguns; their respective power-ups will be equipped to the left or right side of your aircraft, and they too can also be upgraded. It’s disappointing to see there aren’t any other guns to grab. While they’re pretty deadly, using them over and over does become tiresome. Well, with exception to the special attack: an electrical explosion that covers up nearly half of the screen.

Man, the pixel visuals in each of these games are bursting with colour.

In any case, the opposition you’ll face here is pretty staggering. Ships, turrets and tanks of enormous size will fly or crawl on-screen, ready to give you a bloomin’ good drubbing. The boss battles are even crazier in this one compared to the others. Either you must fly across their frankly massive frames in order to hit the weak spots (i.e. their turrets), or fight ‘em as they transform and alter their attack patterns. These encounters get the right balance – they’re tough and deadly, but aren’t bullet-spongy or too overwhelmingly unfair. A handy feature in Wolflame is the inclusion of a save system. It’ll autosave when you start each level, and you’ll have the opportunity to load back to your previous games as well. It still uses a one-hit kill and life system as well, though this is counterbalanced as a result. Plus, there are also checkpoints that you can respawn from. Very handy, indeed.

Wolflame can be played horizontally, though it mucks up the resolution. It’s best played as it is.

All of the titles in Shmup Collection are splendid in their own ways. There’s enough variety on offer to easily justify a full-priced purchase – it’s only a few quid per game, in the end. Each title has their own little gimmicks and neat features to help them stand apart from one another, and they’re mostly accessible for players of varying skill. The fact that they don’t quite reinvent the wheel in any groundbreaking way is a bummer, and each of them do come with their own unmissable setbacks. However, it’s anything but a bone of contention. Ultimately, the entire bundle is a triple threat of explosion-filled, arcade-like goodness.

Review code supplied by PixelHeart.


4 Stars

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