Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rise & Shine Review (XONE)

Rise & Shine has been marketed as an oldschool run and gun 2D shooter, but that description couldn’t be further from the truth.  The reality of Rise & Shine is that it is a slowly paced cover shooter where every enemy encounter is a puzzle to solve as you assess the situation and strategically take out enemies based on threat level.  Or, more likely, you just spray and pray and die a lot until you make it through to the next checkpoint.  Is any of it actually fun, though?  Sort of.  Kind of.  Maybe?  The game has a great art style and the constant references to other videogame characters are kind of cool, but the core gameplay isn’t exactly spectacular.  Find out all of the details in our full Rise & Shine Xbox One review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Adult Swim Games
  • Developer: Super Mega Team
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: 2D Action Platformer
  • Pros: Great art style; references to other games; solid movement
  • Cons: Trial and error difficulty; frustrating; short length
  • MSRP: $15

The planet of Gamearth is being invaded by the muscle-y space marines of Nexgen and it is up to a kid named Rise and a talking gun named Shine to save the world.  Their objective is to fight through the invading hordes and deliver Shine to the King, who can then activate a special super weapon to defeat all of the Nexgens at once.  It is a dangerous mission, but with the help of the God-like “guides” (the human players of the game) Rise and Shine will succeed.

As I mentioned above, Rise & Shine has been marketed as a fast paced Contra-style run and gun shooter, but it really isn’t like that.  Running and gunning only leads to quick and frustrating deaths and instead you have to slowly and carefully avoid land mimes popping out of the ground and use conveniently placed waist high cover to slowly plink away at enemies during firefights.  More often than not these firefights will include five or more enemies, all shooting a hail of bullets bullet-hell shmup-style at you, so all you can do is hide until you have an opening and then spray and pray and, hopefully, kill them all so you can move onto the next encounter. 

See our review of another Adult Swim Games title, Headlander.

There is a tremendous amount of trial and error in Rise & Shine because you usually don’t really know what is coming until a bunch of enemies suddenly pop up and kill you.  This style of learning by death game design certainly isn’t inherently bad (hello Dark Souls), but the actual shooting gameplay in Rise & Shine isn’t especially fun.  Rise can run and double jump and also has a dash move you can use to dodge around and avoid bullets, which all works well and feels pretty good, but shooting with Shine is a pain.  You have to hold the left trigger and then aim with the right stick and then shoot with the right trigger.  Aiming is awkward at best and it can be hard to tell where you’re really aiming even after you get a laser sight power-up fairly early on.  The game demands a fair amount of precision, though, as the “right” way to play the game is to take out specific, more threatening, enemies first before mopping up the fodder.  Because the aiming is only so-so, however, and the game gives you only split-seconds to actually return fire, you usually end up just wildly spraying bullets whenever you have an opening and hoping for the best.   

The game does throw a little much-needed variety into the mix in the form of puzzles here and there, though, which helps ease the frustration of the combat by introducing a different type of frustration.  As you play you pick up new upgrades for Shine that include electric bullets or remote control bullets you can manually drive around in any direction you want.  You use these different bullet types to solve puzzles or kill enemies that have a specific weakness.  The problem, however, is that the game doesn’t really tell you what the heck you’re supposed to be doing in these puzzle situations so you frantically try to shoot everything that looks the least bit interactive until something works. 

The game does look pretty spectacularly good with a very nice art style, good animation, and solid special effects, and the soundtrack is awesome.  The cameos of lookalike characters from other game series are also undeniably cool and are something that will compel you to keep playing just to see who pops up next.

Ultimately, Rise & Shine is pretty disappointing as it isn’t really what the trailers and previews promised.  It absolutely isn’t a Contra-style run and gun game and, despite the Adult Swim Games partnership, isn’t nearly as funny as you’d expect.  It’s just sort of slow and dry and bland.  It sure looks pretty, though.  More of a problem is that even with a ton of trying and dying and wasted time on puzzles Rise & Shine is still less than 3-hours long, which makes it pretty hard to justify the $15 price tag.  Skip it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.