Rating : 9/10
Super Galaxy Squadron Ex Turbo is shmup that leans more towards shooting than bullet hell for the most part. The story is slightly barebones, you’re an ace gunner and it’s you job to stop the invading force. I’m gonna be frank, this is one of the best bullet hell like/lite (will coin the phrase at some point) games I’ve had a chance to pry my hands into.
There are two things that are required to be a good bullet hell game: one is music and the second is polish. Super Galaxy offers what can be described as so so music, not being a selling point. The story isn’t robust enough content to give it a sense of scope beyond the main campaign. But the polish, wow, where do I even begin?
As someone who’s got some experience when it comes to bullet hells, the shmup elements do take more emphasis. For instance, a typical bullet hell involves tough enemies to kill with a relatively high time to kill. Of course there are games that don’t do this, but since most do, it’s an easy identifier. Another aspect is the memorable repeating attack patterns, being able to know a boss’s attack is the difference from being a novice to expert and hardcore. But other than this, the bosses over the course of the 6 stages are challenging (shall we put it). With 15 playable characters/spaceships, each with differing stats and attacks style. The game is bound to have one that’ll match your playstyle.
Beyond that, this game does everything you’d expect with polish that I was taken back when I loaded the game for first time. The voice acting was solid. But in terms of visual representation, it spoke volumes to the effort that went behind this game. From the way the animations played and the visual feedback, it showcased polish that I didn’t expect. The pixel art is done really well. Visually, it’s also a lot easier to distinguish your actual hitbox than some others I’ve played. But it can be too much for someone not experienced, although the (easy) casual mode does make the learning curve lenient. Plus, the auto save and resume function makes playing the game in parts very handy.
Is this something that’ll set the shmup scene on fire? Maybe, hard to tell since the bosses can go down so quickly compared to other bullet hells I’ve enjoyed like the main Touhou series. My only addendum to the low kill time is based on the character you choose, since each one has varying stats that’ll vastly change the kill time by a minute or so. A critical aspect since that’s the difference between surviving or dying. One thing that did throw me off in this regard is the lack of precise movement that’ll reduce your movement speed. In its place is a bullet time like effect called focus, which has a wind up and down state. Is this replacement a game breaker? Not necessarily, although as a power up I’d prefer slower movement for keyboard since you can easily play through a stage without enabling bullet time once as I did for veteran on my completion run.
Featuring 3 game modes: Arcade, Endless, and Boss Rush. The game offers you the expected game modes. Arcade, which offers the main campaign, is well done and polished that it could easily go into an arcade booth and I’d be happy to play it there. Hardcore mode is available which a no holds barred win or lose situation, not my cup of tea but nice to have. Endless is solid, no real complaints other than maybe throwing in modifiers and weirdness into it make the experience less repetitive. Boss rush is great again, I somehow beat it on my first proper go. I accidently launched into it when getting to grips with the controls, which aren’t rebindable. Important to note, although most bullet hells I’ve played follow this same track (unless I’ve missed something in the options menu). Performance wise, for the purpose of reviewing this. It ran smoothly around the 60fps, only dipping when the particle effects were being showered, on my Acer R13 with a Celeron N3050 processor.
Now for the more technical parts of this and nitpick from someone who really enjoys bullet hells. The bosses lack distinct phases and feel like jumbled messes of attack states. To the point getting a read on them is difficult, if it weren’t for the fact that the enemies had a low kill time. The only boss that gave me a run for my money is the Albatross with its onslaught of truly horrifying bullet hell on Hell mode. But that’s my only real complaint for this game as a bullet hell. Everything else if played on Veteran is balanced, although this is very much dependent on player skill. Otherwise, a purely simple great game.
Forgiving it may be. This isn’t your typical “easy” shmup/bullet hell. For its price, this is worth it with the available content and replayability. A definite permanent install my portable laptop for its endless mode.
Is at least 50% anime.