I thought I would quickly get out of the way the review for the shooter that I'm currently spending most of my time playing and that is Blue Wish Resurrection it's a freeware vertical scroller with the shmups of Cave been a big influence. Infact all of X.X Games of which there are 6 titles are all heavily influenced by the manic shooter giant Cave with Eden's Edge been X.X's title which has copied most from one game (Espgaluda) and not just the broader style of Cave that been the high amount of bullets from the enemy and their patterns, the lifebar for the bosses and minibosses and also the fact that the players ship slows down when the shoot button is held down which makes dodging a hell of allot easier. Obviously X.X games have nowhere the same amount of graphic quality and presentation as Cave's but all the important parts are there to make anyone who's a fan of Cave to feel right at home. Blue Wish Resurrection and it's blue label follow-up Blue Wish Resurrection Plus are X.X most popular titles, infact they are one of the most well known and played PC shmups out there atleast in the west anyway. and many gamers who are new to modern shmups will play as they are very noob friendly in their design.
Stage 3 boss fight in BWR, Plus is identical in graphics
BWR has 5 stages all with an end of level boss and some stages have a mid-level boss aswell. 4 difficulty levels of play; easy, original, hell and accel which is hidden (just press up once when easy is selected to play in accel mode). Easy is too easy for most players, original should be the difficulty newcomers should start with. And even hell mode if you're a seasoned vet shmupper. Accel mode imo is sort-of a novelty and not something most games will want to spend great amounts of time playing, As even though the amount of bullets is small compared to the other modes, the speed is just abit too fast to be able to 1CC (1 credit used to finish). Especially as the players ship is still the normal speed which is just no good when the ship slows in concentrated fire. So as I’ve said before most players will want to play the seriously in original or hell and only bother with the lower difficulties for unlocking ships. A player will have just 2 buttons to press shot and bomb, with shot having two modes, tap fire for the normal shot and hold down the fire button for a narrow concentrated shot, slower ship speed and the craft's hitbox tobe visible aswell. Very handy for weaving between bullet hell patterns when fighting the bosses. Bombs are very useful to use just before you die or just to clear the screen of enemies if you're overwhelmed after dieing in the later stages and you need extra time to collect your power-ups. BWR also has an auto-bomb feature which for those who don’t know is a feature which instead of dieing when hit by a bullet (enemy crafts don’t harm you) the game will automatically use a bomb if you have any in stock; although you're score will suffer. It is this feature and the fact that its turn on in the options menu by default thereby allowing for an easier then normal 1cc that many shmup noobs love this title. And many PC shmuppers will make this game one of the first they play seriously if they're trying to play for a 1cc. Me personally am nearly there for a 1cc I just need to improve in the last stage especially against the boss to nail it.
During play there are no collect-em ups to change your weapon but there are bullet power collect-em ups and the occasional bomb pick-up aswell. If you die you don’t lose you're powerups you only need to collect them back up as they move across the screen. BWR has 4 ship types 2 of which are unlockable by 1cc easy mode for the 3rd ship blue peace and 1cc original to unlock the 4th ship Eden’s edge with its characteristics taken from X.X's Eden Edge game. Infact the character model from the game is unlockable aswell. Each of the ships are very different. The 1st ship Blue Wish has a wide angled shot making it a popular choice for quickly killing off waves of weak enemies, with the concentrated shot used for more powerful enemies. the 2nd ship Blue Hope has a more powerful but very narrower shot making it not a good choice for gamers who are scorers as the player has to move allover the screen to kill off all the enemies, with many been missed in the later stages. The 3rd ship Blue Peace is a bit more unique due to its bullets automatically homing into their targets if shot button is pressed down. The homing system even splits up aswell if there is more then 1 enemy onscreen and will allocate more bullets to stronger foes. The power of this weapon is weak too much for me especially fighting bosses but many people like to use it. For its normal shot it does have slightly more power and a bullet spread like Blue Hope. This can be used to fight the bosses but this does make the game harder as the ship will be at full speed. The last ship Eden's Edge is different from the others in the fact that it has 4 options instead of 2 which in normal shot will follow the player in a trail around the screen like in Gradius which group together around the player ship when shot button is pressed instead of tapped. I have not spent much time with this ship but I do think it could be a good choice for scorers who have memorized the enemy ship placement. Although each ship has the same speed having 4 very different shot types can make for very different gameplay and greatly increases the games longitivity.
BWR scoring system has you collecting items which are the bullets of a bigger sized enemy converted into items when it's destroyed. So it's a good idea to kill off a enemy when lots of bullets fill the screen. Also there are hidden chests of items for you to find. Here's a secret, on stage 3 if you find all 10 chests, you can uncover a hidden 1up just before the boss if you hold down fire in the middle of the screen. Back to the scoring system, there is a counter of all the items you have collected. At the end of every level all the items will be converted into points. The challenge is to not lose any items during the level, as if you use a bomb, auto bomb or lose a life you will be penalized. Also if you have auto bomb turned off in the options you will earn slightly more points at the end of level score tally then if you had auto bomb turned on. Another aspect of the score system is the distance you are when you destroy the enemy, the closer the better. Touching a enemy will not kill you but do remember in BWR they will still fire as normal so you will have to be careful. Some might consider this a cheap way to die but it is a minor thing imo.
All in all BWR and BWR+ are great games at will challenge any gamer who wants to take it seriously. It is the fact that it's packed with noob friendly options and the leaning curve of the stages is good for beginners aswell due to levels 1 and maybe 2 been easy to no-miss on original (not get hit during the whole stage) that no matter how skilled a gamer is they should be able to succeed in a goal that many shmuppers set for themselves. That been no-miss a single stage, 1CC and even 1LC (1 life complete). Been able to practice individual stages and end of level boss's is really handy aswell. While I might have been talking about how great this game is for beginners, there are lots to challenge a pro shmupper. As the last two stages are a hell of allot harder then earlier stages. Due to the sheer amount of enemies on screen shooting bullets you will be hard pressed to clear a level without not having to bomb. The stage 4 and 5 bosses are allot harder then earlier bosses aswell, with many different patterns and mazes of bullets sent at you. Another great challenge for the top tier shmupper is a True Last Boss to tackle in hard mode if you managed to 1cc the game. This boss from what i've seen in vids is very very hard and reminds me of boss vids from Cave's Mushihimesama for just how tough it is.
Looking alot simpler, Blue Wish
So far i’ve been talking only about Blue Wish Resurrection but what about the other two games Blue Wish and Blue Wish Resurrection Plus. I will start with Blue Wish. BW is X.X's 2nd game and the difference in BW and his other game Green Wind to his more recent titles is quite allot. For starters they play in windowed mode only and the graphics are a hell of allot simpler. But even though they are (very) rough around the edges the core gameplay is still of the standard of his later games. BW's enemy bullet patterns are very different to the other two games. I found apart from boss fights the levels to be easier then the other two games, with only the last level feeling like the later Blue Wish games. Things are very different when you reach the end of level boss (no mid bosses) the patterns are hard even in original mode with lots of bullet hell patterns needed to be quickly dodged with the player's ship at full speed. Compared to the later games there are allot less touhou type bullet mazes in BW though. There is a TLB in hard mode which you will get to fight no matter how many continues you used. This is the only TLB ive fought out of all 3 games and I can tell you he is stupidly hard. Way too hard for me and I found myself using 8 or 9 credits just on him hehe, even with the bombs his health bar moved down very slowly. The game only has 3 ships, Wish, Hope and Peace although if you use Peace you can’t use bombs making it not so much a choice for noobs. Although Blue Wish is a OK game and would pose more then a challenge if I took it seriously, it doesn't hold a candle to the other two games.
Apart from the original Blue Wish game (which is abit to plain) BWR and BWR+ are some of the best PC games out there that follows the style of Cave. Even though they are freeware they are of great quality maybe not so much graphically but in every other way especially in design. And they should be one of the first games a new PC shmupper sinks his teeth into. I suppose the biggest question would be which of the two to play. While you can try both out I do recommend that Plus is more suitable for the noob due to the slowdown which makes boss fights a hell of allot easier. The fact that Plus has all the player ships unlocked and that BWR is more of a challenge on default I would recommend those shmuppers who like to set goals like no-miss, 1CC etc to pick BWR. While those gamers who prefer to score would be best served playing BWR+ due to it's slightly upgraded score mechanics of two types of bombs, more bullets onscreen to convert to items with bombs or destroyed enemies. And the larger amount of chests to find which all together equals a much larger highscore in Plus over its sibling.
With 3 different games to rate it does scoring alittle bit more difficult but apart from BW which I give a 2 out of 5 for been below average from what to expect for a PC shooter. The other two due to been so simlier and both brilliant to play depending on what you want out of a shoot 'em up I will give a equal score of 4 out of 5. All 3 games can be found at X.X's Game Room and for those who like to score here are the highscore threads for BWR and BWR+ at shmups.system11.org, why dont you join the forum and start posting highscores to this and other shmups and while you're there start to socialize with the english speaking shmupping comunity. There you will find out alot of tips and facts about shmups which will develop your passion for playing them.