Sisters Royale (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 18.04.2019

Review for Sisters Royale on Nintendo Switch

The illustrious Lord Yashin is kind, intelligent, and a total hunk. Who wouldn't want to marry this angel? As it turns out, there are five sisters vying for his hand. However, anyone expecting a harem arrangement is going to be sorely disappointed. This is a traditional marriage between two people, and that means four of the ladies will have to walk home empty-handed. Rather than dating, courting, or rock-paper-scissors, only the winner of the Sisters Royale can wed Yashin. What exactly does that entail? Well… apparently it's a 2D shoot 'em up where rivals face off in immortal combat.

For 30 years, Alfa System has been a remarkably consistent developer. Back in 1989, they achieved notoriety for their great port of Ys I & II for the PC Engine CD. Since then, they've worked on entries in the Phantasy Star and Tales franchises, as well as dozens of other games. Their best-known work among shmups fans is none other than the Shikigami no Shiro series. From 2002 to 2007, players engaged in danmaku duels with villainous rivals, all in the hopes of unravelling a mysterious plot, or to set a new high score. Over a decade later, a spiritual successor was released, and it goes by the name Sisters Royale.

Granted, the story certainly isn't the same. Five sisters battling over obtaining someone's hand in marriage is a far cry from occult murders and floating castles. Rather, this game retains the mechanics and design of the titles that came before, while employing a couple of its own ideas - that is essentially what being a spiritual successor is all about. Fans of the previous titles will be able to immediately jump into this one, but as for everyone else, please stick around for a second and keep reading.

Screenshot for Sisters Royale on Nintendo Switch

Basically, the goal of Shikigami no Shiro is to survive five or so stages of fiendish creatures and cruel rivals. Bullets are a given, as the baddies will pepper the screen with them. While it is in the player's best interest to dodge everything, they tend to benefit from being close to danger. When near a bullet, the player-character gains a substantial boost in firepower, and will earn a multiplier bonus on anything they kill or collect. The closer they are to death, the larger the pay-out. It's the standard risk versus reward system, with higher difficulties featuring more bullets as well as scoring opportunities. All of the playable heroes and heroines have their own weapon and sub-weapon. The differences between everyone tend to be very stark, which lends replay-value to the whole affair. To spite the rather dark plot, these colourful characters frequently engage in comedic banter.

The deal here with Sisters Royale is that it operates on the same wave-length, while employing a couple unique ideas, to help stand out from its predecessors. Rather than soar through the air with the greatest of ease, the gals of this game prefer to keep both feet on the ground. In other words, this is one of those rare shmups where everyone walks, much like Gun.Smoke or Guwange. Along with hundreds of fell beasts, each of the five stages is filled with obstacles that can affect movement. In the wind stage, for example, fans push the heroine around. These traps lend an interesting wrinkle, but they never become insufferable. This is just as well, considering one of the stages is filled with slippery ice physics. Imagine having to deal with that for an extended period of time, while the screen is flush with death-dealing bullets.

Screenshot for Sisters Royale on Nintendo Switch

Before one can dive into this quest of love, they must first decide on their difficulty and character. It's probably a good idea to think of the difficulty choice as the level of challenge and the character choice as the level of complexity. Each of the five "Love Rivals" has their own main weapon and familiar. The main weapons are general purpose and are mainly for weakening or destroying fiends. Conversely, familiars aka sub-weapons are best for scoring, but tend to put the heroines in difficult positions. Simply put, some familiars are really powerful, but also difficult to use. If the player doesn't know exactly what they're doing, then their games won't last long.

Starting off with Sonay, her element is fire, and her familiar automatically homes in on every creature in the vicinity. Yes, this is a "fire and forget" weapon that allows Sonay to focus on avoiding bullets. However, it's still a good idea to use the main weapon, because her familiar is very unlikely to discover fairies. For a short time, fairies can grant a 16x boost to the score multiplier, provided the person who collected it is very close to danger. On a side-note, there is one of these at every boss fight, save them for that perfect scoring opportunity.

Screenshot for Sisters Royale on Nintendo Switch

Nur, master of wind, has a familiar that summons twin tornados. While the dervish devils do a lot of damage, they also require their caster to always be within a certain range of enemies. Selma controls massive ice blades. The key word here is "control," so the player has to use subtle movements in order to maximize the sword's effect. Ece's lightning familiar creates a narrow blast, but it can be aimed in any direction. Lale, whose element is darkness, has the most powerful and hardest to use familiar. By holding the sub-weapon button down, her buddy sucks up any nearby bullets. When the button is released, a devastating barrage crushes most everything in sight. However, it's on Lale to constantly manage this powerful technique. If she's facing the wrong way, or underestimates how much firepower the familiar can carry, then she's going to eat a bullet.

The diversity in techniques makes for a shmup that can be as easy or difficult as one would like. Sonay definitely has an easier time than the rest of the cast, while Lale is the toughest to learn. Every character has to approach stages in their own way, if they intend to survive and score big. Sisters Royale effectively balances the five playable characters so that they appeal to all skill levels. Even in subsequent replays, who the player decides on will make a difference in every possible scenario. They'll have to consider different paths and spend a lot of time learning boss patterns, simply because every sub-weapon has its own optimal range.

The hardest difficulty further complicates matters by introducing its own mechanics. There are chests placed everywhere, with an infinite amount of coinage inside them. However, the player can't expect to simply park in front of one and cash in, at least not without also being bombarded by enemies. Speaking of, try to be careful when destroying the little beasts, as they'll cough up a few revenge bullets in their dying breath. A little restraint is required in some circumstances, because blowing everything up as soon as they appear can lead to chaos.

Screenshot for Sisters Royale on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

In short, Sisters Royale is dependent on players that'll take the time to figure out its every nuance. The five-stage campaign isn't particularly memorable, but it shows a good understanding of what makes a shmup work. The real enjoyment comes from learning each character and mastering every difficulty. There's a lot of depth in utilizing weapons to their fullest potential, and raking in billions of points. Even after 30 years, Alfa System has proven that they are as dependable as ever, when it comes to delivering a solidly put-together and fun videogame.

Developer

Alfa System

Publisher

Alfa System

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 None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

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