Publisher: Rising Star Games
Genre: Shoot’em up
Platform: Reviewed on PS4 (also available on PC)
Age Rating: N/A
Release Date: 02/18/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
The events of Natsuki Chronicles take place three years before a battle between Natsuki Sugiura, our protagonist, and the Garm in Ginga Force. The game begins with players as Natsuki where they go through her first assignment with the RDF as the rookie right up to her confrontation with Alex and Margarette. Afterwards, Natsuki realizes the truth about the Magni Company, MSS and RDF and decides to go against them.
Natsuki Chronicles is a 2D shoot’em up, also known as shmups. Players are tasked to going from point A to point B while killing all enemies and avoiding any enemy projectiles coming your way. Shmups are known to be hellish, unforgiving games that require quick thinking and reflexes. However, Natsuki Chronicles adds a few features that will make this game from a notoriously hard genre to a little more flexible and accessible.
Giving Players a Fighting Chance
In order to give players more flexibility and make it more accessible to a broader audience, the developers added a few mechanics such as warning arrows which will indicate from which direction enemies are coming from as they come from off-screen and from every possible direction. It’s a welcomed feature that allows gamers a fraction of a second to adjust their shooting in order to clear the path.
Another fun mechanic is unlockable weaponry. As you progress and clear levels, you earn new weapons to equip your spaceship with in-between levels. Your ship has three ways of attacking: primary weapon, secondary weapon and a special attack. The primary weapon is your main attack that shoots forward. The secondary weapon can either let you shoot behind or complement your primary weapon. The special attack can be used as both a defensive or offensive skill; for example, you can equip a weapon where you have two balls that will act as a front shield to absorb enemy projectiles; however, you cannot shoot and defend at the same time.
To Go Forward, We Go Backwards
The game’s main nuisance is the level order. After clearing certain missions, you’ll be prompted to go through training stages before moving forward in the story. I do feel like it’s backwards and these levels are utterly useless. All three training stages could’ve been merged into a single one that should be the very first level of the game to get a handle of how it plays.
The game, surprisingly, features a lot of depth. As you progress through the story mode, you’ll earn CR (in-game currency) that can be earned whether or not you succeed a level. Obviously, the higher your score, efficiency and the fact that you complete the level, the CR amount will be higher. CR can be used to unlock new weaponry. Once you’re done with the story, (which can be completed through Easy, Normal, Hard and Extreme modes) players can jump into Arcade mode. Arcade mode is like story mode without the story cinematics and in-between levels ship customization. You’ll pick up power-ups the old school way -throughout the levels.
Natsuki Chronicles’ visuals are highly colourful with each level having its own design; while the grey-ish visuals can be seen throughout a few of them, they still look still different from one another avoiding level redundancy. As with any other shmup games, expect Natsuki Chronicles to become hectic at times, as the levels are full of enemies and enemy projectiles. The soundtrack is nothing special; it’s a Japanese techno-inspired score that fits hand in hand with the gameplay. While I don’t understand Japanese, the voiceovers are well done and not overly acted. They complement the story pretty well.
Natsuki Chronicles is an awesome addition to the shmup genre. Despite its weird story mission order, the game features a lot of depth thanks to a plethora of unlockables, four different difficulty setting, complementary arcade mode and gameplay mechanics that will reach a broader audience. Long time fans of the genre along with newcomers tempted to dip their toes in it will definitely find something addictive with Natsuki Chronicles. Don’t miss it.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Natsuki Chronicles from the Playstation Store here.