Game: Mamorukun ha Norowareteshimatta! (Mamoru is Cursed!)
Release Date: June 25, 2009
My Score: 7.5/10
When this game was released in arcades 2 summers ago, I didn't really pay it much mind. I was putting all of my attentions on newly-released Street Fighter IV and Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu. A year goes by and I still haven't tried it out. I see at my local game shop that they are taking reservations for the home version. I was itching for a new shmup so I thought "What the hell". I go to my local arcade to try it and and it seemed fair enough. I bought when it was released, and this is my review....
So the story goes that you are some 12-year-old kid named Mamoru (Which means "to protect", by the way) who thinks he died by getting hit by a truck then transported to some Hell-like place. You arrive in the netherworld and 3 others who are there but are just as confused as you. The others are a 16-year-old happy-go-lucky girl named Beniko, a 17-year-old boy with a bad attitude named Kinya (who speaks Kansai dialect), and a 14-year-old mysterious girl named Mayuno. All 4 of you are wondering where the hell you are (pun intended). You are all greeted by a hot-tempered young girl named Fululu who tells all of you that you are needed to help restore order in the netherworld. Everybody is constantly asking where they are and what is going on but Fululu always avoids this subject. Slowly throughout the game you are given hints between levels as to what is going on. Meanwhile another weird girl, named Nowa, who is native to this netherworld pops up here and there and drops hints. Fululu hates this girl and she constantly tells her to sod off and STFU whenever she appears. She is only a playable character after you spend 400 Microsoft points for the DLC. After each level they seem to keep falling (literally) deeper and deeper into different circles of hell. Eventually it all ties together, but no spoilers here!
Not only does each character have a unique personality, they also have a unique firing pattern. The firing pattern for each character is fixed and you cannot switch between characters. You can strategically commit suicide to switch characters, but that only works if you have played through the game enough times to know when a certain character is best for a certain situation. You can choose the order in which the characters are cycled (a la King of Fighters). All of the characters have these cute little floating demon/spirit thingies (which are never explained) that act as auxiliary guns (like "option" from Gradius/Parodius/Otomedius).
There is a story mode and arcade mode. The story mode delves into the story which I spoke about earlier. You play as one of the 5 characters. Each character is a life, so if you die it shifts to the next character. You can only play one character at a time. Once all characters are dead, there is a short animation at the location where you die that shows a tombstone erecting and all of your mini demons gather around and attend your funeral. That is one of the saddest things I have seen in a game! Anyway, after that, the game is over. You can get 1ups which restore life to a random character who has already died. In the arcade mode, you are given a choice as to who to play but you can only be that character. You have a life meter instead of cycling through characters. Also in Arcade Mode, you are timed. You have to finish each level within 5 minutes. You can get time icons to add 3 second increments to your clock. The story mode is not timed. There is also something called a "Noroi Meter" or "Curse Meter". Like so many other shmups have, this is a chargeable weapon. Hold down the B button or R trigger until the gauge fills, then release to unleash holy hell against your enemies. If release the button before it is done charging, you will release a smaller, weaker discharge.
Surprisingly this game is very reminiscent of Smash TV. Although it is not default, you can arrange the controls so that the left analog stick controls the character and the right control stick fires your weapon. This is the arrangement that I choose for optimal gameplay. Unlike typical shmups, the screen does not automatically scroll forward. You can stop in one place and the screen will stop with you.
Unlike bullet hell games from CAVE, this one is more on the easy side. It is still challenging, but the bullet patterns and amount of bullets on-screen are not nearly extravagant as other 360 shmups. The game does have sort of a doujin feel to it but that is not a surprise since it is made by a "mainstream" doujin studio (G.Rev). The other studio that worked on this game is Gulti, which used to be Seibu....the company that brought us the Raiden series.
I am not a fan of cute-em-ups other than the Parodius series, but this game is fun and satisfying to play. It is also accompanied by a typical anime story with entertaining characters in the story mode. Perhaps part of the reason I like this game is because I loved Smash TV as a child and, as said earlier, this game is very reminiscent of that game.
I have very few gripes about the game. The biggest complaint (which isn't much) is that you cannot toggle between characters in the story mode. This is more of a personal preference than something that actually hinders gameplay.
Pick up this game if you are a shmup fan. It is also great for casual shmup fans as the difficulty is not bad compared to more popular bullet hell games. That isn't to say the game isn't challenging. It is a great game made by two great studios and their love for shmups show in this cute-em-up adventure.
For those studying Japanese and wonder how the title is formed, here is a quick rundown:
Mamoru is a male character, hence the "kun" after his name
The "ha" (pronounced "wa") is the subject marker
"Norou" means "curse" and to make the verb passive, drop the "u" and add "wareru"
"Shimatta" comes from the root verb "shimau" which is added to a host verb in its "te" form to give it a feeling of misfortune or regret.
If you want to convey the emotion of the title, it would sound something like this in English: "Regretably little Mamoru has been cursed"
As always, no pirated or emulated reviews. My copy: