Rise & Shine is a small quiet title from Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team (badass name, right?). The game is a unique blend of bullet-hell, platformer and arcade shooter. Think I Wanna Be The Guy but less infuriating and way better looking.

So to get right into it, it’s short. Very short. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The story isn’t deep and involved and it doesn’t suffer from being overly drawn out. You have a set destination, you get there and it’s done. You don’t get bored slogging through hours of dialogue and huge stages. It’s both a pro and a con. It’s short but it’s concise and to the point. It works well for the game’s story and style, but maybe a couple extra stages woulda been fun?

The story of the game is pretty simple. Gamearth has been invaded by the war-hungry Space Grunts of Nexgen. You play as Rise, a young boy who is inside a mall when the invasion begins. The Legendary Warrior saves your life at the cost of his own, but before passing he bestows the weapon Shine unto you. Shine is a unique weapon that grants it’s owner infinite respawns so long as it’s Guide deems it necessary. Rise & Shine now partners are tasked with saving Gamearth from the Space Grunts and have to find the King, because he’ll know what to do.

The cool part about the story is that the cutscenes are a procession of hand drawn panels. Fantastically detailed, they convey the story beautifully along its duration. It’s an interesting and very visually pleasing way to provide the narrative. The main focus of this though is the nature of the artwork. Boasting a comic-style design all of the art is incredible. Be it the simple designs of the characters and enemies or the incredibly well detailed background images. Each stage has an immaculately well done hand-drawn background that scrolls with the level. The layers above it are equally as well detailed and just as beautiful too!

Don’t let the stunning visuals fool you though. Rise & Shine is all business when it comes to gameplay. Rise being a 10yr old child against killer robots and laser blasts, isn’t particularly durable. So it’s great that Shine bestows immortality upon him. Lose focus for a second and you’ll find yourself vaporised or blown into chunks quite easily. Dodging enemy attacks with jumps and dashes becomes an artform all of its own when facing hordes of bad guys. The bosses can be a real handful to beat, especially when they call in constant support to keep you on your toes. The platforming sections tend to be reasonably straight forward but they’ll often have a hidden twist to catch you as you start to relax.

The controls in such situations need to respond accordingly as new dangers arise or that one stray bullet sneaks up on you, and they do. Any faults you encounter are mostly on you (you’re not as good as you think you are, deal with it). Combat controls can be kind of fiddly when changing between fire modes and bullet types, but luckily there aren’t many so the cycling isn’t too bad, however it can lead to you accidentally blowing yourself up a number of times….

For those of you with a particularly self destructive trait there’s the Iron-Man Mode that you can unlock after clearing the game first time around. Why anyone would want to put themselves through it though is beyond me. It’s exactly as brutal as it sounds but it’s a brilliant test of skill and dexterity. Aside from that however, there’s sadly very little replay value to Rise & Shine.

Almost forgot to mention the game’s soundtrack! That’s by no means a comment about how great it is. The soundtrack for the game is perfect for the style and pacing of the story. Calm and soothing when it needs to be, but heavy and intense when all hell is breaking loose. The soundtrack absorbs you into the rhythm of attacks and motions of the game. It helps you predict how aggressive the next screen/monster/boss is going to be and how to move accordingly. It’s quiet enough that it’s not distracting but loud enough to be heard around all the guns and explosions.

It’s a real shame how this charming little shooter is exactly that. Short, but very charming! Personally I would love to see another game featuring Rise and his faithful side-arm Shine.

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A run in with a Nintendo 64 one fateful evening gave me an inexplicable power to untangle any wire and clear any game cartridge of dust. Powers that are little use in this day of wireless technology and digital media downloads….