Before games had immersive worlds with deep storylines, it was about arcade-style gameplay. Your goal was to master the game and earn high scores for bragging rights. Today, these games offer simplistic fun for everyone.
Blue Revolver is a shoot-em-up (or SHMUP) with an anime flavour. It’s a typical fantasy setting with futuristic technology. There are two protagonists, Mae and Val, who combat the Blue Revolver organisation.
The gameplay and setup are what you would expect. You pilot a ship and blast your way through five stages, each featuring waves of enemies and bosses. Controlling the ship feels great and it’s super responsive. You have three offensive options. The primary weapon is a rapid-fire attack. By focusing the rapid-fire you can do more damage, but your ship moves slower. The other style is a wider range that allows you to move freely.
The secondary weapon is your “special” weapon. There is an energy bar which limits your use of this weapon type. There are 8 secondary weapons split between the two characters. Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses. All of them are viable options. Which one you use depends on your playstyle.
Finally, there are the bombs. This is a screen-clearing attack to save you from tough spots. Using a bomb also makes you invincible for a short while, but you have to time it. Leave the bomb for too late and you’ll lose a life.
The bombs are your only defensive option. There aren’t any dodge rolling moves to get you out of a pinch. You must weave through the waves of enemies to survive. A tried and true approach to the SHMUP genre.
Blue Revolver offers a decent amount of customisation. You have two characters to choose from, the protagonists, Mae and Val. Their primary weapons have subtle differences to each other. However, you can choose between three modes. Standard, wide and follow. These modes affect the mini-ships on the side, which support your attacks.
Standard has the mini-ships on either side for a regular attack form. Wide will set them further apart, to broaden your range. You cover more space on the screen but do less damage. Follow has the mini-ships follow you around. This gives you the option to position them how you like and vary your attacks. While harder to control, it’s perfect for skilful players.
Each character also has different special attacks. This decides which character will become your favourite. As an example, Mae can shoot missiles with a long-range, but no aiming mechanic. Val gets a short-ranged beam attack that zones into the nearest enemy. There are other secondary weapons too. So, you can experiment until you find a combination you like.
The main game mode is the story. You play through each of the five stages in order, with 2 lives. The lives carry over and you get a game over when you hit zero. There are no continues in this mode, so you have to do complete it in one go. There are three difficulty modes, normal, hyper and parallel.
Hyper is the regular setting. It uses an adaptive difficulty curve to keep up with your skills. The ideal way to play Blue Revolver. Normal mode has easier enemy patterns and activates the bomb when you get hit. Don’t rely on this feature as you will develop bad habits. The parallel mode is the hardest difficulty and is ideal for experts.
Blue Revolver also has a stage select mode. You have access to all stages from the beginning, allowing you to practice them. It’s an excellent mode that is perfect for those new to the genre. You can also choose to start at certain points of the stage. If you can’t beat a later level, the stage select will let you master the harder areas. It’s an appreciable feature that the developers didn’t have to put in.
The third game mode is a mission mode. As the name implies, you complete missions under various circumstances. You have basic objectives like scoring a certain amount of points or surviving a stage with one life. There’s also a few harder challenges. For example, enemy bullets turn invisible as they get closer. The missions are a great way to test your skills and get better at the game.
Blue Revolver’s presentation is solid. The pixel graphics look great in motion. Whenever there’s a ton of enemies on-screen, things get hectic. At times it can be difficult to see enemy fire between the carnage. The best part is all the lovely colours and explosions. The sense destruction and chaos is fantastic.
Music is decent, but nothing spectacular. The tracks are good enough to keep playing the background. There are some sweet remixes, which you can unlock with in-game currency. The music may not be amazing, but it gets the job done.
Blue Revolver has plenty of replayability with both the arcade and mission modes. On top of that, there’s incentive to keep playing in the form of unlockables. You can buy skins for ships, extra music, special weapons and a free play mode. Free play allows you to continue from the stage you lose. In other words, you don’t have to restart the game after dying. There is a catch, namely, you won’t get most of the achievements like this.
It’s refreshing to see plenty of in-game unlockables. Especially in this current gaming landscape. You also have 40 Steam achievements to earn from playing the game. If you’re a completionist, you will get plenty of hours from this game.
Blue Revolver is a classic SHMUP experience with some unique twists and turns. It isn’t afraid to ramp up the difficulty while keeping things simple for newcomers. It can be difficult to try out a new genre for the first time, but Blue Revolver makes it easy. It’s a fun ride, even if you’ve never touched a SHMUP in your life.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.