Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 18.01.2019 1

Review for Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special on PlayStation 4

Genius Yamada, known far and wide for his brilliance, villainy, and disregard for clothes, wants to rule over the world of videogames. By utilizing the latest advancements in hacking technology, the evil professor has taken control of Kamiyoga, one of the dozens of Game Centres located throughout Tokyo. At this very moment, his horrifying visage is being displayed on all of the cabinets. The only person capable of putting a stop to this madness is "clever gamer extraordinaire, and super-able employee" Yuki Ito. A goddess when it comes to soldering irons and screwdrivers, Yuki wires together a bunch of arcade boards. Somehow this creates a team of classic arcade heroes. They must enter a gaming paradise and take the fight to Yamada.

When this critic writes about shmups, 'tradition' and 'bullets' are two words that get used far too often. Since almost every game in the genre consists of multiple stages that are all filled with bullet-dodging action, the superfluous reminders tend to hamper one's ability to provide valuable insight. Indeed, readers should be expecting more from the written material that they consume, especially when it comes from someone who claims to be well-versed in STGs. There's no value in a word that's absentmindedly repeated. With that said, moving on to today's review. Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special breaks from tradition by offering its own skewed parody of traditional shooters. Don't worry though, there are still plenty of bullets to dodge, bullets of all shapes and sizes.

The quest to defeat Genius Yamada will require players to endure six stages, all of which are filled with a variety of dangers. Yes, variety is emphasised for a reason. No two stages are alike, and that even applies to the enemies that will appear. The first takes place in the Game Centre, where one of the six playable characters will have to contend with violent arcade machines, and volatile pinball bumpers. In the second, the hero/heroine enters a Crane Game to smash animals that are as stuffed as they are deadly. From there it's on to the third, which takes place inside of a shmup… yeah. If one succeeds at toppling the tyrannical professor, they'll enter the second loop. Naturally, the second verse is harder than the first, because enemies will fire off suicide-bullets when they are destroyed.

Screenshot for Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special on PlayStation 4

While all of this madness is going on, be sure to hunt for eggplants. These delectable goodies can be found inside of numerous enemies. Picking up just one nets the player 1,000 points, but that's not all! When several are picked up in a short amount of time, this phenomenon causes a gauge to fill. As the gauge fills, the value of eggplants increases up to 10,000 points apiece. Hang on, because that's still not all! Exceptionally skilled fighters who are able to defeat baddies while retaining a high gauge will be awarded exceptionally delicious eggplants. They're slightly larger and worth a whopping 48,050. Why such a random number? Who knows! Anyway, eggplant chaining is the secret to happiness, or high-scores, at least.

Though this title seems like a collection of oddities, it's still pretty tough. The speedy bullet-patterns are specifically designed to blindside anyone who isn't paying attention. It'll take several retries to get a feel for the later stages. There are a slew of difficulty settings as well as the option to enable auto-bombs. While they are helpful, the only real way to leaderboard dominance is through constant practice. Oh, and be careful, this is one of those rare shmups where enemies can fire from off-screen. Be sure to destroy everything or risk being hit from behind.

Traditional STGs often take a small handful of ideas, and then stretch them out for as long as possible. One would think that shooting through hundreds of tanks and airplanes would get dull after a short time, but the best titles arrange everything in a manner that keeps the action frenetic and compelling. As this game represents a break from tradition, it instead offers a surplus of ideas. That's fine and all, but rarely are those ideas allowed the time to breathe. The average play-through clocks in at around 15 minutes. All of the wildly disparate and creative themes are crammed together.

Screenshot for Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special on PlayStation 4

Just when the player thinks they have the answer, the game changes the question. That's the general idea behind Game Tengoku. Pilots are tossed from one set-piece to the next, never mind if they've managed to understand what's going on. While this does it make it easier to memorize trouble-spots for future attempts, the action tends to feel like constantly shifting gears. It would have been preferable to have a longer-lasting play-through. 30 minutes would go a long way towards creating really involved scenarios. All of the neat ideas could be pushed to their limits. Still, what's there is entertaining and sufficiently difficult.

Anyone seeking a chance of pace should check out Time Attack. This functions similarly to caravan modes that appear in STGs like Super Star Soldier and Bullet Soul. The player is given unlimited lives, but only a few minutes. They have to clear a special stage and get as high a score as possible. A heaping helping of power-ups and bombs are regularly delivered, so one's attention should be spent on setting up huge eggplant chain bonuses. Not only is this mode a lot of fun, but it also uses the game's unique scoring mechanics in a rewarding manner. Enemies tend to clump together in large groups, making them ripe for achieving lots of 48,050 bonuses.

Screenshot for Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special on PlayStation 4

Also included is the 1997 SEGA Saturn version, which comes complete with an exclusive 'Arrange' mode. Basically it adds two new stages for a total of eight. As a trade-off, there's no second loop. These "new" stages are about as weird as anything else. In one of them, the heroes fight through a console game store, and then enter some sort of Dragon Quest knock-off. Weirder still is the boss battle at the karaoke hall. Players are encouraged to hold their fire and enjoy a performance by little Misato. Just a warning, however: the lyrics have become sentient, and are fatal to the touch. In between stages, there are scenes featuring the entire cast. They don't really add to the storyline, but are still pretty amusing. There's also a training mode to test the controls and practice eggplant chaining.

Those out there who want to brush up on their gaming knowledge can also check out the Data mode. Here, six classic Jaleco arcade titles are documented, allowing one the chance to check out the history of Game Tengoku's colourful cast. Various screenshots and artwork are included, and the characters even commentate on their respective games. It's a fun extra.

Screenshot for Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Game Tengoku CrusinMix Special is best thought of as an experience. There are a lot of scenes where the main characters chat with each other and goof off - not to mention the multiple songs with vocals, commentary tracks, and even an interactive karaoke performance. This creates an atmosphere not often seen in such a tradition-focused genre. None of this comes at the expense of the game itself, which is a solidly enjoyable trip down memory lane. The scoring mechanics are well-realized, while the stages are cluttered with things to see and destroy. Ideally, all of the clutter could have been stretched out to create a more consistent and fully-realized shmup, but what's there is perfectly all right.


City Connection







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   


this looks kooky

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