Title: Black Paradox
Developer: Fantastico Studio
Genre: Shooter, Action, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: PEGI 7
Release Date: 03/05/19
Price: £ – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
Black Paradox is a fast-paced rogue-lite shoot ’em up. Unleash an arsenal of weapons, power-ups, drones, and other upgrades to survive waves of enemies, against a backdrop of vibrant pixel art and synth-wave soundtrack. As the infamous bounty hunter Black Paradox, travel through space and defeat the most dangerous criminal organization in the galaxy: the Hellraisers and its seven lieutenants.https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Black-Paradox-1544436.html
Enter the cockpit, ready your weapons, and prepare for the ultimate galactic showdown.
It’s the 1980s, and Black Paradox has just flipped a switch in their trusty Delorean. The doors lift to the sky becoming wings, the tires rotate becoming thrusters, and a rocket engine emerges from the back. You are taking off into space, blasting synth-wave on the eight-track, ready to take down some intergalactic bounties. Is Black Paradox a bullet hell from whence you can’t escape, or is it one you gladly return to, begging for just one more run? Read on in this Rapid Review to find out.
Things in Black Paradox are dead-simple. As a side-scrolling bullet hell, you move around the screen and shoot a variety of spaceships, turrets and asteroids attempting to thwart your progress. You start each run with a simple gun that shoots in a straight line, and after defeating a large purple ship that appears once in each sector, you are presented with another random weapon that you can equip and switch between. The weapons are what you might expect, machine gun, rocket launcher, homing missiles, etc.
There are seven bosses in the game, each with their own unique ship design. The boss designs have lots of personality; including things like Space Biker and Cosmosaur. Upon defeating a boss, you’re presented with two upgrades you can choose between. These could be stat enhancers, like a 20-per cent attack boost, or a drone that fires homing missiles. These stack, so you can have numerous drones flying around you at any time. Each boss encounter also builds upon the last in some way, while also introducing its own unique attack patterns for you to tangle with. For me, someone who does not have much experience with bullet hell games, I had trouble getting used to and adapting to the patterns, making tiny mistakes that resulted in my death.
The rogue-lite nature of the game means each time you die, you are sent back to the very beginning and must restart your entire run. This could feel tedious, if not for the fact that the enemy distribution is randomized each time. You’ll encounter similar patterns in each sector, but you never know precisely what you’ll meet on the way. This is good because you move through the levels at a set pace, and there are no shortcuts or ways to move faster through the progression.
Each time you die, you have the option of cashing in the currency you’ve earned during your run at the garage, where you can purchase upgrades for your ship. You start with space for two upgrades and can unlock two more spaces. The upgrades you can unlock give things like 4-per cent chance to fire a triple shot, as well as providing a boost to your health, attack, speed, or fire rate. This gives the player some options to find a set of upgrades that works for them.
Audio and Visuals
I do not have much to say about the audio for this game, other than that the soundtrack is absolutely BANGIN’. As far as original soundtracks go, Fantastico Studio has done an excellent job creating an atmosphere with the music. Each sector has its own song, and they are all equally good. So, playing through the game feels a bit like playing through an album in a way. It would require making a different kind of game, but it would have been nice if they had somehow made the action on the screen match the music.
The visuals are crisp and easy to read, which is essential in a bullet hell game. The backgrounds are beautiful interstellar vistas with nebulas, planets and black holes floating past in the distance. Enemy ships each have a distinct design, and their attacks easy to distinguish from the background. Each time I reached a new boss, I was tickled by their design, both of the character portrait, and their ship. There is an option for VHS style scanlines if you’re into those.
My one gripe with the visuals in the game is that I would like some alternate skins for the player ship, but that is ultimately a small complaint in the grand scheme of things. Also, the menu is a little generic with its ‘80s aesthetic.
As a rogue-lite, replayability is an essential thing for Black Paradox to nail. Even in the early goings, when I was getting stuck on bosses, I kept going back for “just one more run.” The incremental upgrades do give you a feeling of progression, but having to restart the entire progression every time can be a bit disheartening. But learning the patterns and hoping for a better series of weapon and upgrade drops was enough to pull me back in.
Upon defeating the final level, you unlock a boss rush mode that provides remixed versions of the bosses but doesn’t feel all that different from the original set. If the game implemented a scoring system, with multipliers for streaks and options for further customisation, it would give the game a longer life.
Black Paradox blends aspects of bullet hells and rogue-likes into a devilish yet fun game that is great for short sessions on the go, or longer sessions with a podcast or something on the side. Though it is hard to tear yourself away from the music, it is challenging for newcomers to the genre and offers enough style to bring in hardcore fans. The progression can feel slow at times, and the difficulty may spike unexpectedly, but Black Paradox is worth checking out.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Black Paradox from the Nintendo eShop from the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Black-Paradox-1544436.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.