Shikhondo - Soul Eater (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 10.11.2018

Review for Shikhondo - Soul Eater on Nintendo Switch

It is said that Limbo is the home of demons. They were banished there for all of the sins they committed in the realm of Earth. Imagine the foulest creatures, whose very existence is a scourge against nature, locked away for all eternity. It's a good thing that they are not the type to hold grudges… right? Oh, oops. Sure enough, these fiends managed to escape, and now they are raising quite the ruckus. Innocent souls are being stolen, the people are overcome with fear, and colourful bullets are being strewn every which way. Two mysterious girls have arrived to restore order, but can they handle the chaos? Find out in Shikhondo - Soul Eater.

Visually, Shikhondo - Soul Eater is liable to turn a few heads. The art style is very distinct, and the yokai designs will surely burn themselves into the retinas of shmup fans. Of course, looks can only go so far. This game is part of a genre that prides itself on both strong mechanics and inspired design. Plus, this is a bullet-hell, a style of STG that isn't exactly uncommon. There are a lot of competitors out there, all vying for a little of the player's money and time. What does this one have to offer?

Going over the facts, there are multiple play-modes, two playable characters, and five stages of bullet-hell action. Each stage features the usual array of both small and large demons, whose sole purpose is to fill the screen with bullets. At the end, the heroines must contend with a boss, which is divided into two phases. Naturally, this arch-yokai is a fair bit tougher than the minions. It has no qualms about devising ornate bullet patterns to crush the opposition's spirits. Upon the fiend's demise, the player is given the choice between an extra life and an additional Soul Bomb. Finally, whether or not they succeed in their mission of saving the Earth realm, the player's top-score is recorded for posterity in the online leaderboards.

Screenshot for Shikhondo - Soul Eater on Nintendo Switch

While extra lives are always nice, stocking up on Soul Bombs is also a worthwhile investment. Soul Bombs serve two functions. When the player is trapped in an especially bad situation, they can use the Soul Bomb for a much needed breather. That's all well and good, but ideally they are going to want to master the "Soul Collect" system. As the heroines get uncomfortably close to bullets, a gauge begins to rise. When it's full, Soul Collect can be triggered. This enhances their weapon's power, while boosting the amount of souls acquired from demons, which results in a significant amount of bonus points.

While under the effects of Soul Collect, a Soul Bomb can be spent to enter hyper mode. This temporary power-up increases the player's damage capabilities ever further, and multiplies their soul collection rate. When managed properly, this becomes a fantastic method for boosting the score to stratospheric levels. Also, it's important to note that during the transition between Soul Collect phases, all enemy bullets are cleared away. Mastering this mechanic is essential for survival. Unless, of course, the player is just that good, and can easily evade patterns that are as thick as fog.

Screenshot for Shikhondo - Soul Eater on Nintendo Switch

Managing these subsystems is part of what gives Shikhondo - Soul Eater an edge over similar games. Using Soul Collect at the right moment not only keeps the player-character from dying horribly, but it's also just plain satisfying. In most bullet-hell shmups, bombs are typically used when the player is in a panicked state. They realise that they are in over their head, so they rely on a bailout. This isn't the case here, as when used strategically, Soul Bombs are a great way to earn tons of points. Also there is a high level of patience involved, as it can take a few seconds of being surrounded by bullets, before the Soul Collect gauge is filled.

The multiple modes of play are fairly self-explanatory. As opposed to the normal setting, the novice setting grants players both an extra life and an additional Soul Bomb whenever a stage is completed. Appropriately enough, the hardcore setting does away with extra lives altogether, so the game ends after a single death. On the plus side, the Soul Collect gauge fills at a much faster rate. In Boss Rush, the only goal is to defeat all of the bosses. Finally, there's a customise mode, which allows for some minor subsystem configurations to create a more personalised experience. Instead of Soul Bombs, for example, a maximum Soul Collect can be performed by filling two gauges.

When playing for score, it's in the player's best interest to work their way up to the hardest difficulty. There are four to choose from, each having their own bonus multiplier. As would be expected, the Extreme level of difficulty is ridiculous, but it guarantees the highest possible scores. Keep in mind that the online leaderboards are separated by mode, not difficulty. If someone is feeling left behind by the competition, it's probably because they are taking it too easy.

Screenshot for Shikhondo - Soul Eater on Nintendo Switch

While there are two characters to choose from, there's really not much of a point in choosing the "Grim Reaper." That's the girl with the pipe and, yes, that's actually her name. Anyway, her spreadshot covers a wide area, but the damage isn't very high. Even when focusing her shots, it still takes her a bit too long to destroy enemies. Seriously, "The Girl" - also known as the Girl with the Sword - is the better choice here. Her homing shot is great for all situations, and whenever Soul Collect is triggered, she performs a massively damaging special attack. Oh, and nobody knows why her name is "The Girl," either; it just is.

When the Switch version of Shikhondo - Soul Eater first released, it was in a very rough state. A few of the bosses had glitched bullet patterns. Actually, calling them patterns would imply that there was any rhyme or reason to them. To put it bluntly, some attacks were absolute insanity and impossible to dodge. Thankfully, a recent patch rectified the most significant issues. Now the game is much more manageable… relatively speaking. It's still a bullet-hell, after all.

Screenshot for Shikhondo - Soul Eater on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Shikhondo - Soul Eater is a visually unique and very enjoyable shmup. That's really all there needs to be said. It's not as if there's some riveting plot or a fantastic ending to look forward to. In fact, the story is basically non-existent. Perhaps, instead of filling the screen with words, the developer chose to cram in some more bullets. That's fine - wonderful even. There aren't any distractions to keep players from performing their best. If the idea of navigating a sometimes literal maze of death grabs you, then consider giving this a go.

Developer

DeerFarm

Publisher

Digerati Distribution

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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