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Castle of Shikigami III review

The best 2D shooter that should have been a download you'll play this year


  • Solid "bullet hell" 2D action
  • Ten playable characters
  • Wild art design


  • Should've been cheaper and downloadable
  • Dated or classic? Depends upon your taste
  • Vertical screen doesn't translate well

Castle of Shikigami is one of those games that we really wish we saw more of these days. It's a vertical "bullet hell" 2D shooter, which basically means there are more pink death blobs in the in-game sky than there are paparazzi hanging out at Britney Spears' neighborhood McDonald's. It's challenging, it's colorful, the controls are blessedly simple (no motion-waggling required), its dialogue is wonderfully campy and wacky.

It's deeper than you first imagine, withten playable characters - not ships, characters, because these folks don't need machines; they just fly around on their own spitting fireballs and laser beams. Each has different shot patterns and special attacks, and you choose two at a time, swapping between them at will. Also, two players can play cooperatively, a cool feature every shooter should have. Ifthis were a downloadable title on WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade, or PlayStation Network, it's a safe bet that we'd be telling you to go fire up yourconsole and start it downloading right now.

But that'sactually the game's biggest problem. Never mind that the arcade original had a vertical screen, so your view will be marred by giant banners on either side of the action -if it's a real problem, you canrotate the view 90 degrees andplay horizontally using the entire screen. No, thereal rip here is that we couldn't help feeling the entire time we played it like this should have been a downloadable title instead of a $30 (at press time) full-package product. All three of the major consoles feature downloadable shooters both old and new, and they cost $10-$20 on average. At those prices, Castle of Shikigami would be a definite buy. As it is, only shooter die-hards will feel like they're getting their money's worth.

Jun 17, 2008

More Info

DescriptionFly forward quickly in this horizontal shooter, killing the enemies in front of you without being hit. This time some anime cut scenes are mixed in for good measure.
US censor ratingTeen
Alternative namesCastle of Shikigami 3