Games like Metal Slug, Deathsmiles, Ikaruga and other of the so-called “Bullet Hells” have become practically legendary among gamers who appreciate the genre. Super Mega Team’s newest game, Rise and Shine, manages to keep the run-and-gun play while adding little bits of puzzling and platforming into a fun package. Can Rise and Shine match the love and admiration gamers feel for the aforementioned classics? Let’s find out.
The story of Rise and Shine follows the adventures of a young boy named Rise who lives on a planet known as Gamearth, which makes the whole thing a bit of a subtle joke. One day while at the mall, the town is attacked by planet Nexgen – no I’m not joking. A legendary hero, who is literally called discount Link, dies in front of you after failing to give you important information. However, he does give you something else; a magical gun that grants you infinite lives known as Shine.
From there, Rise finds out he has to become the hero now, not only because he has Shine but because he has been blessed with a “Guide” AKA: you the player. From that point, the game’s story is pretty par for the course despite the fact it kind of makes fun of this fact multiple times throughout the game. This will set a pattern of making fun of all things gaming and even game industry related, all while playing a game. Yes, it’s ironic humor. and it does get a bit overdone, but is good for a lot of laughs along the way.
The main characters Rise and Shine play off each other well with witty dialogue that will often have you smirking as they make fun of video game clichés that are littered throughout the game. The game is filled with knock off characters like a discount Mario as the king and a few other famous video game characters like Snake and Samus, plus more in the background.
The background humor put into this game is hugely entertaining and is where you will find most of your laughs; from the characters on NPC Island who just challenge you to random mini-games, to the wisecracking aimed at large faceless corporations in the industry and their unoriginality. The game contains one scene in particular that I enjoyed involving two guards surrounded by explosive barrels holding a rather normal conversation until one asks why they are standing where they are before returning to the conversation.
There is however one or two moments in the game that seem out of place, specifically lines of dialogue that feel more at home in an allegory about war and suffering than a comedy, which removes any weight these moments may have had. Luckily however, the game mostly sticks to what it does best and that is making fun of itself and the game industry. Rise and Shine’s satirical nature does it a great favor in making the rather predictable story more entertaining.
The path that Rise and Shine takes is straightforward and feels like it tried so hard to make fun of video game cliches in its story that it became one itself. However, I will say the ending of the game is one of the most creative I have seen in recent memory, and I found myself laughing my way through it. The biggest complaint with the story and game in general, is its shortness. Rise and Shine will last maybe five hours if you are moving quickly.
From a gameplay perspective, Rise & Shine keeps things pretty simple: you can aim, shoot, dash, duck, and jump. The core majority of the gameplay is you moving forward taking cover from enemies who will kill you as quickly as you would expect from a game of this type, and killing them instead.
You can also unlock special lightning bullets and two other types of shots; a remote control shot and a grenade. For most the game, you need to control bullets through tight spaces to hit switches or lob grenades at specific angle and detonate them. There are a few noticeable exceptions specifically with the boss fights which are tense split second battles that require a calm and collected demeanor to complete successfully. From a giant war bot with laser beams to restarting a giant’s heart, boss battles standout against the somewhat repetitive main gameplay.
That’s not say it isn’t fun and challenging, but once you get on a roll you will find yourself thoughtlessly pressing through the game. Luckily enough the game itself is quite smooth. I only encountered one or two minor bugs throughout the course of the game.
One complaint I will make is the distinct lack of variety in your ability to upgrade. Aside from the special bullets and firing types, the only collectible upgrade in the game is to give your gun more ammo before reloading. It feels like something that was thrown in to add “side content” but really makes you notice how little else to this game there really is. Other than the core story and challenging yourself there isn’t much to do. On NPC Island, there are three mini-games to play but they aren’t really noteworthy. While the game does have some set pieces that are fun to play through like controlling a gun boat through a blockade or the previously mentioned boss fights, there isn’t much beyond the core game. Overall the gameplay experience is smooth and fun, but it likely won’t bring you back for a second dance.
Finally, from an artistic standpoint Rise and Shine is very enjoyable. The cartoon artwork mixed in with the gratuitous violence one would expect from an Adult Swim published game mix perfectly and feels reminiscent of games from The Behemoth (Castle Crashers, Alien Hominid) which is a good thing. Organic enemies, and you, explode into cartoonish pools of blood and limbs while mechanical enemies hay wire and explode into neon light shows. The sounds of the game are unfortunately more forgettable with music being very repetitive, especially if you die frequently, and there is no voice acting, just garbled sim speak.
I do want to commend the developers at Super Mega Team for the passion you can really feel that they put into Rise and Shine. The game really does have heart and you can feel it throughout the entire game. It is honestly Rise and Shine’s best quality as, despite its shortcomings, I couldn’t help but smile at the effort the team put forward.