Welcome Time Wasters!
I’ve gotta say. This has been a great E3. Two new Metroid games announced, Anthem looks really awesome, and Monster Hunter Worlds is definitely getting added to my collection. Looking to the future of gaming is great, but why don’t we take this week to look back on the past, as well. Specifically, let’s look at Castle of Shikigami 式神の城.
Castle of Shikigami is a shump that came out in Japanese arcades way back in 2001. It was later ported to several other consoles, including the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. You might be wondering at this point why exactly I’m talking about a game from over 15 years ago. Well, it is now available on Steam and the publisher has provided me with a review code.
Castle of Shikigami may be an older game, but the shump genre hasn’t changed much over the years. This means that this particular entry still holds up well today, but not without a few problems.
The story of Castle of Shikigami is a little hard to figure out. There are a series of murders and Japan’s police start hiring members of the occult community to solve the crime spree. This includes a young psychic detective, a hit man, a literal Nazi witch and three other characters. Each of the characters have their own unique dialogue in the game that gives the players some insight into who they are. The bosses also speak differently to each of them and it helps us learn more about the overall story. There’s enough there to piece together a story and its better than nothing, but don’t expect anything too engaging.
The six characters in Castle of Shikigami all play differently. What is the same is the types of attacks they can do. Each character has their own normal attack, magic attack and bomb. Normal attacks come from tapping the shot button, magic attacks come from holding down the shot button and bombs have their own button. It’s a system that works okay, but I really wish magic attacks were on a separate button.
Defeating enemies in Castle of Shikigami earns the player points and has them dropping coins. Doing so with a magic attack will have those coins automatically come to the player. Enemies will also earn more coins and spawn in more enemies by killing them with magic attacks. More points means more power as they level the character up. This moves their attacks up to the next levels and makes them deal more damage.
Magic attacks are great, but they do have their drawbacks. First of all, they don’t deal as much damage as normal shots do. They also cause the player to move slower, which can result in a speedy death in a shump. Normal shots also have the advantage of getting more powerful when the player is near an enemy or one of its attacks. This also builds a multiplier for more points.
Castle of Shikigami allows players to take three hits before they die. After each hit, the player will have a brief moment of invincibility to move around. Using bombs will also give players invincibility. They are perfect for avoiding giant boss attacks.
Speaking of bosses, there are plenty of those in Castle of Shikigami. There are five stages in the game and each of them has three parts. Players will have to fight bosses in each of the parts. The fights are challenging and there’s enough shots on the screen that it can become difficult to keep track of the character. This isn’t really a bad thing, though, it’s just something that shump players have to get the hang of. What I’m saying is that it is part of the challenge that comes with the genre.
Being that Castle of Shikigami is from the PlayStation 2 era of gaming, it looks a little dated. I’m not huge on graphics, so it doesn’t bother me. However, I could see it being a turnoff to some players.
The audio is in the same department. It’s a symbol of its time and features small clips of Japanese voice acting. Nothing really here that stands out one way or the other.
Overall, Castle of Shikigami is a good way to waste some time for shump fans. The age of the game may be a turn off for some players. It also feels a bit old in terms of gameplay when compared to newer shumps. For that reason alone, I can really only recommend this to hardcore fans of the genre.
Castle of Shikigami earns 3 GiN Gems out of 5!