By just looking at the game’s screenshots, it’s difficult not to be charmed by Rise & Shine. A hybrid 2D run-and-gun and bullet hell shooter infused with puzzle-solving and presented in a charming visual style packed with plenty of old-school and modern day video game references. It displays a great deal of potential right out the gate – but the more you advance, the more the game’s allure quickly begins to diminish.
A war between GameEarth’s inhabitants and the invading space grunts of planet Nexgen have left the planet in disarray. You control a young boy named Rise who takes ownership of a legendary gun, Shine. Not only can Rise’s new companion talk, but he’s also able to grant whomever possess him with unlimited respawns, which is a plus given how challenging (and occasionally cheap) Rise & Shine happens to be.
On paper this game sounds great. In terms of its gameplay, Rise & Shine has you moving from left to right, dashing, occasionally hiding behind cover or jumping away from incoming fire, or shooting at it to make it disappear. The key to success here is quick reflexes and making good use of two types of ammo – standard and electric – and swapping shot modifications – explosive, which gives you a handheld mortar that sticks to things when fully charged and bullet control, which allows you to control the direction and the speed of your shot with the right stick within certain areas. Every expended shell must be used intelligently, but a punishing level of difficulty and touchy twin-stick aiming makes it near impossible to not want to rage quit.
Right off the bat, gauging where your shot will land is harder than it should be. Aiming with the right analog stick, a glowing dot shows where your bullets will hit, but in the heat of battle, it’s extremely difficult to keep sight of it. At times there are five or more enemies on-screen, all of which can shoot multiple bullets at once, making it effectively impossible to fire with any precision when seconds matter. This gets especially frustrating during the final level, where the game’s difficulty dramatically spikes. Most of the time, I found it easier to just spray bullets in the general direction of my intended target in hopes of hitting the mark before I died.
What the game does have going right for it is a presentation that is ridiculously good. From the beginning of a stage to the end, there’s a rich palette of color, plenty of variety, and a wonderful attention to detail. I consistently found myself impressed with how developer Super Mega Team managed to leverage foreground and background elements to create a presentation that is on par with what would be expected from a larger studio. In addition, the animation in the game is spot-on and everything simply flows together.
It’s a shame that Rise & Shine‘s gameplay and story can’t match up to the wonderful art style. But hey, at least you can finally kill the dog from Duck Hunt.
A Xbox One copy of this game was provided to Gamer by Nature for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.
- Gorgeous graphics
- Homage to classic video games
- Finicky shooting mechanic
- Low replay value