The 2D shoot ‘em up genre has attracted a hardcore and passionate group of fans.
The games, also known as shmups, usually involve controlling a ship as it fires at foes while dodging hundreds of on-screen bullets.
Japanese developer Cave is probably the most well-known specialist in this field, and its games successfully made the leap from East to West last year when fantasy-style shmup Deathsmiles arrived in the UK on Xbox 360. The game was even nominated for the Sales Triumph 2011 MCV Award.
Then along came the futuristic DoDonPachi Resurrection last November, and now publisher Rising Star is continuing to cater to this audience with Akai Katana. This 360 title boasts 16:9 HD, classic side-scrolling shooter gameplay and three special modes, including one where players can transform their ship into a ninja. Better still, the game has a budget price tag of just £29.99.
“We are very optimistic about Akai Katana,” Rising Star’s product marketing manager Yen Hau tells MCV. “This will be the first game we release on both sides of the Atlantic and we are confident that with the exposure of both Europe and North America, we can get enough momentum going to really make Akai Katana a big success.“
All of its modes, coupled with a complex scoring system, makes Akai Katana one of the most challenging shoot ‘em ups to master but also one of the most accessible to novices. It features some of the best artwork you’ll find in this genre.”
Practice makes perfect
Akai Katana’s three modes include Origin, which is a straight port of the arcade version, and Slash, a new mode with its own scoring mechanics. Then there’s Climax – a variation of Origin but with the scoring restrictions lifted.
While Rising Star says the amount of bullets and colours on-screen at once is “truly an amazing sight”, the publisher admits players may need practice to get through unscathed.
But that’s not to the game’s detriment – part of the appeal of shmups is setting higher scores. With this in mind, Akai Katana is a must-have for Cave and shmup fans.
A brief history of Cave
Japanese developer Cave has been producing games since the mid-‘90s. Its first release, DonPachi, spawned the popular DoDonPachi games. Today its titles are available on a range of formats including iPhone and Xbox 360.
Akai Katana will be promoted via an online advertising campaign including activity with Google, Gorilla Nation and specialist websites. There will also be a microsite for the game featuring Flight Training tutorials to teach players various in-game skills.
Shooting to retail
Rising Star Games will support Akai Katana with several retail initiatives including POS materials, which games stockists can use to decorate their shopfloor and pull in pre-orders.
Rising Stars and Stripes
UK-based publisher Rising Star opened an office in the US earlier this year. This means US Cave fans will be able to get hold of the studio’s latest boxed releases. The firm also opened Rising Star Games Digital, which will handle downloadable releases.