The shoot 'em up genre is one particular aspect of gameplay that has evolved at a much more gradual rate than the rest of the industry, and one whose roots are still clearly visible.
As you'll know if you read our History of Bullet Hell piece from a while back, the shmup genre has a long history, branching off in a number of different directions over the years -- bullet hell or "danmaku" shooters are just one.
The "cute 'em up" style is another offshoot of the basic shmup formula, and is sometimes combined with elements of danmaku to produce games that look utterly adorable, but which want nothing more than to make you suffer. Notable examples through the years include Parodius, Fantasy Zone, Twinbee and even the legendary Touhou series. All share the same common elements: challenging gameplay coupled with colorful, cheerful aesthetics that help you forget the fact that the game is trying to kill you.
There's a new addition to the cute 'em up roster from today: Mamorukun Curse! from G.rev (Border Down, Under Defeat) and Gulti (an outfit made up of former Seibu Kaihatsu employees), published by UFO Interactive. The "new" game actually isn't that new, as it first appeared in Japanese arcades under the name Mamoru-kun wa Norowarete Shimatta! (literally Mamoru Has Been Cursed!) in July of 2008. It was followed a year later by a port to Xbox 360 -- a platform which inexplicably became the spiritual home of shmups in Japan, despite the fact the country has been otherwise indifferent towards Microsoft's consoles since the 360's predecessor -- and then enhanced for a 2011 downloadable PS3 release. The PS3 version included full widescreen support, a new gameplay mode and two former DLC characters bundled in from the start.
Mamorokun Curse is a top-down shooter with a twist: unlike many of its peers, scrolling is not forced. Instead, players may move around the levels as they please, though the natural progression tends to be in a vertical direction. Players take on the role of Mamoru and six other characters as they attempt to bring balance to the Netherworld and prevent the World of Darkness from taking over -- damn those roleplayers, they get everywhere.
UFO Interactive's Western release of the game includes everything from the original Japanese release along with all previously released downloadable content -- two new levels, two extra characters and alternate costumes for all characters -- at no extra cost. There's three modes of play, online leaderboards and 66 trophies to unlock for those who like that sort of thing.
Like the sound of all this? It'll set you back $19.99, and you'll be able to find it on PSN later today. Find out more at the official site.