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Horizon Shift ’81

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Title:  Horizon Shift ’81
Developer:  Flump Studios
Publisher:  Funbox Media
Genre:  Action, Shooter
Platform:  Nintendo Switch
Audience:  E for Everyone
Release Date:  20/12/2018
Price:  £7.19 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.

What the Developers say

Horizon Shift ’81 is an explosive wave based single screen shooter with a real Retro feel to it. You can even play the game in Tate screen mode, which is made even better when playing with the Flip-Grip!

The player controls a ship in the centre of the screen, enemies approach from the top and bottom and the player is able to switch up and down to deal with the encroaching hoard.

Different enemies react differently when they reach the horizon, some sit on the horizon, some destroy sections of the horizon and some run up and down the horizon. The player is equipped with a dash attack where they can knock enemies off the horizon and smash them into other incoming enemies for a score bonus. Dashing an enemy of the line refills the dash metre allowing for ‘Dash chaining’, this is where the big points are scored.

The player is also able to jump (jumping upside down is an interesting new challenge) and is equipped with a bomb which wipes the screen of enemies as well as restoring the horizon.


Arcade shooters hold a special place in my heart, and if you get your kicks from fast-paced, action-packed shoot em’ ups, then have I got a game for you. From developer Flump Studios, Horizon Shift first came out back in 2015 and was a unique take on the shooter genre with you shooting at enemies and objects above and below you. Now, Horizon Shift ’81 has launched on the Nintendo Switch and takes the unique concept of the original to new heights, improving in every area and adding a bunch of new power-ups and features.

Horizon Shift ’81 is the type of title that I had a hard time putting down and found myself lost in a world of bright lights, booming club music, and never-ending joy or frustration, not the bad kind of frustration though. It was the frustration of being so close to completing my next goal, only to misstep and cause my run to end just shy of the mark. Horizon Shift ’81 has the characteristics to make you grit your teeth in anticipation while perpetually smiling the entire time you play.

Gameplay and Replayability

You’ll notice right away that Horizon Shift ’81 feels very much like a Space Invaders type of game, with a random mix of ships and weapons that fill the screen with colour and challenge. Each round is based on the number of enemies you can shoot down and not destroying all the enemies in that level. This is helpful because it means that if one side of your Horizon is infested with enemies you can sacrifice it and keep one side under control long enough to pass the level. That strategy may work for only select situations though, as you may find yourself without a Horizon before long and fall to your death.

Controlling your spaceship is simple and works great. Your goal is to move from side to side along a line in the middle called Horizon, dodging bullets and defeating enemies. What sets Horizon Shift ’81 apart from other shooters though is that you can switch between shooting up or shooting down at any time, meaning you have to pay attention to two sides of the field. Certain enemies or objects may even break the line your spaceship traverses, but thankfully your ship comes equipped with a jump function for clearing the breach and a dash that can be used either defensively or offensively.

Looks and Sounds

The challenging aspect of Horizon Shift ’81 is quite authentic, bringing you back to the days where high scores were worn as a badge of honour and were rarely taken lightly. Keeping ahead of both the attacking waves on both sides of the Horizon can become very challenging, and as the level continues, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep any amount of the skies clear.

The sights of the enemy ships, which strangely look like monsters, and the synthetic voice of your AI are such a tribute to the genre of the title that you can lose yourself almost instantly in what would have been the next stand up arcade cabinet. This is especially true if you use the in-game retro effect to turn it even more into a throwback tribute game. The only real critique I can think of is that there are no light story elements, but it is not necessary to have a great time blasting enemies.


Overall, Horizon Shift ’81 is a fun and addictive shooter that does just enough to differentiate itself from other games in the genre. This is the type of game that will appeal to both classic gamers and those looking for a more modern take on bullet-hell shooters. There is also loads of content including six different modes and tons of power-ups to acquire. Horizon Shift ’81 fully realises its potential from the past iteration and is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys arcade-like experiences.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

4 out of 5

You can purchase Horizon Shift ’81 on the Nintendo eShop on the following link,

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