It’s been a couple of tough years for fans of shooter games out there. With shooter powerhouse developer
Cave not releasing any new games in recent years, it has resulted in a serious lack of new entries for the genre. Fortunately, there are developers out there still occasionally releasing new entries like Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire from developer Alfa System.
In typical Japanese tradition, the story for Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire is bonkers to say the least. As the name suggests, it follows the misadventures of five siblings who are all pinning for the same man… or being. This sibling rivalry remains the focus of the game as each level sees the player’s chosen character take on one of the sisters at the end in a boss battle. Fortunately, it’s not the case where each encounter is a fight to the death and it’s clear from the dialogue that not even love can make them go as far as to kill each other.
Now each of the sisters has a very distinct personality with her own quirks that are associated with stereotypes seen in anime, like the horny older lady and the obnoxious school girl. It’s amusing to see these stereotypes being put to play when two of them are chatting. In fact, Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire easily has one of the most fleshed out stories in a shooter game.
It’s not just distinct personalities that makes each of the sisters unique, since they all have their own individual abilities to make use of. Like with most shooter games, there is a standard attack, a strong attack and bombs to use. What is less traditional is the addition of a different second strong attack that is activated when continuing to press the button. It’s a very powerful attack that tends to easily defeat enemies on the field, but it also significantly makes the character move slower.
Although it’s nice to see how distinct the abilities are for each of the characters, it also results in a severe power imbalance. It’s clear that one or two of the characters have far more powerful abilities that makes it easier to play through the game. This means that it’s very unlikely that it will be as enjoyable to play through with the characters that are burdened with far inferior abilities.
Typically, shooter games are all about the rush that comes with being able to dodge an insane amount of bullets, whilst still racking up an impressive score. In here, there are a few ideas that do pay off in terms of making welcome contributions to a genre that has hardly changed in decades. Each of the five levels tends to come with obstacles to make it more challenge to get through. One level, for example, adds ice patches that will make it slippery and so harder to move about. The purists out there might find it distracting, but it does end up being a novel way to make it more fun for those who just want to enjoy the game.
Unfortunately, where Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire does fall short in is the difficulty level. Whilst the hardest setting provides an adequate challenge, it doesn’t come close to the likes of a Cave title, where some players can only survive by meticulously moving characters as they attempt to navigate hundreds of bullets. The closest this game gets to achieving such a feat comes in the form of later bosses on the hardest setting, but it’s clear that the goal isn’t to compete with top tier shooter games and their advanced scoring systems.
In a way, Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire is more like a novel shooter game that is meant for those who are not particularly skilled at playing these sort of games. Yet, it also contains various elements that would appeal more to the hardcore out there if it weren’t for the severe shortcomings when it comes to offering a true challenge. The levels are not particularly long either and whilst the visuals and the music are pleasant enough to serve as eye and ear candy, there is no denying that it could have done with longer levels filled with more bullets and more varied bullet patterns to dodge.
At least the developers have the decency to add some options that purists will enjoy, such as the means to change the position of the screen to vertical. There’s also the option to upload and compare scores with other players from all over the world, so at least there is a small incentive to come back to try and beat some high scores.
Although Alfa System has dabbled in the genre before with the likes of the Shikigami no Shiro franchise, this is definitely not a stand out new entry for the shooter genre, but it’s not like there is much choice out there at present either. It’s definitely a decent effort and one that casual players could enjoy, but fans of the genre will not find it as challenging.