Shumps have been a go-to genre for generations. Fans love the simple stories, rich colours, and addictive gameplay. However, having played many of these titles, I yearn for something fresh. Thankfully, Wings of Bluestar delivers this with its multifaceted story, multiple endings, and single-player and cooperative action.
Developed by Shinu Real Arts and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is a retro shoot-’em-up. What’s more, it comprises visual novel elements, a fun arcade mode, and a challenging boss battle. On top of this, it can be enjoyed with a friend and has some excellent artwork to devour.
Wings of Bluestar focuses on longevity.
An addictive game is all well and good. Yet, I’m interested in the longevity of the plot and the action. Thankfully, Wings of Bluestar delivers this in spades. With multiple endings, and many plot-altering choices to mull over, no playthrough is the same. Alongside this, you may select from two protagonists with a specialist set of skills. Accordingly, when each of these elements combines, you experience a game that keeps you coming back for more.
You control a pair of pilots who must save mankind. Aya is a hard-working trainee with a heart of gold. Whereas, Zarak is top of his field and his modesty reflects this status. However, both characters know their roles and what they must do to be victorious. Sadly, the peace has been disrupted as remnants of an AI rears their ugly head. By exploring strange locations and destroying an array of enemies, these heroes will rise to the top and save the day. Yet, things are never as easy as they seem! Unsurprisingly, enormous bosses and bloodthirsty machines will stop at nothing to halt their progress. Consequently, they must master their abilities and arm their ships if they wish to fulfil their destiny.
Bullet hell and upgrades.
Though many of its peers have fast-paced and hectic action at their core, Wings of Bluestar bumps it up a notch. This bullet hell monster keeps you on your toes as you dodge, weave, and shoot to survive. On top of this, there are collectables to grab, risk stars to gather, and plenty of upgrades to be had. Then you must remember the scoring system that ticks over. Each of these mechanics merges to generate a fun but overwhelming experience. Furthermore, the branching storyline and interesting characters keep you hooked.
Yet, the most important element has to be the ship upgrades. As you destroy each enemy, there is a chance they’ll drop new weapons, power-ups, or a shield. Whatever it is, it’ll improve your chances of survival. Fortunately, though, the developers are pretty generous. Subsequently, you have multiple credits and lives to keep each run going. Moreover, if you fail, you simply start over from the top of that chapter. As such, you never lose too much progress and the gameplay isn’t too frustrating.
Wings of Bluestar is polished to a modern standard.
Wings of Bluestar has a familiar aesthetic. However, the polished finish and vivid colours make it stand out from the crowd. Additionally, the interesting stage design and variety of robotic enemies were great to look at. Alongside this, you’ll adore the masses of projectiles that fill the screen. In short, it’s a messy but well-conceived idea that is pleasant to the eyes. Accordingly, I loved the graphics, but it was the smooth action and lag-free approach that impressed me most of all. With so much going on, it could have performed horribly. Instead, it never stuttered and though it is overwhelming to observe, it never turns your stomach or hurts your eyes.
Graphically, Wings of Bluestar leaps forward. Yet, its audio is distinctly old-school. With a synth style and electronic undertones, it is reminiscent of many great 80s classics. Moreover, the sound effects are shrill and harsh, but well-considered. I adored the booming explosions, the high-pitched lasers, and the high-energy soundtrack. Thankfully, every element worked as it drove the action and story forward.
Normally, Shmups are easy to play but tough to master. However, this one is more complicated than its rivals. As such, its control system is hit-and-miss and poorly explained. Furthermore, I discovered a fault with the shooting mechanics that undermined the action. On top of this, it made it much harder to play! Sadly, this impacted the enjoyment factor and was detrimental to the final product. However, when the analogue shooting option worked, it was brilliant. Yet, it annoyingly failed many times.
If you can ignore this issue, you’ll enjoy a moreish and challenging game. What’s more, it can be played with a friend and this adds to the longevity. There is also a range of game modes to unlock as well as a small achievement list to complete. As such, it is excellent for completionists and veterans of the genre.
Wings of Bluestar is amazing when it works perfectly.
Wings of Bluestar does a great job of freshening up this well-trodden genre. Yet, I can’t overlook the controls. Every other element is polished and well thought out. But the control system lets it down. I adored the great story, the manic action, and the tough gameplay. However, it is held back by the fiddly inputs. If the developers were to rectify this, it would be one of the best Shmups of recent times. As it is, it’s amazing when it works, but that wasn’t as often as I’d have liked. Consequently, you may be discouraged, but I recommend it despite its shortcomings! Can you save mankind from an old foe? Grab the upgrades and power-ups, and kill everything in sight.