Pawarumi, an old school 80s, and 90s style shoot’em up that recalls the great classics of the past, winking a little to the immortal Ikaruga, proposing at the same time more strategic and peculiar gameplay. Let’s see in detail the work done by the independent French firm, Manufacture 43.
Rock-Paper-Scissors with lasers. What you have just read is the slogan that describes the adrenaline-fueled game, which bases all the experience on the use of three different weapons, each characterized by a color and a deity: Red Jaguar, Green Serpent, and Blue Condor. If the color changes the weapon also changes, in fact, the laser is tied to the Condor, the Gatling gun to the Serpent and the missiles to the Jaguar. The difference, however, does not consist only in the use of three guns to be exploited according to the game situations (something quite necessary), since they are linked to the Trinity system, the peculiar mechanics of Pawarumi and which makes it possible to differ from productions of this type.
In essence, it works like this: hitting enemies of the same color increases our shield, called Boost, which will act as real energy and will be of vital importance. When you don’t get that increases it is game over and then we must start all over again. If instead, we shoot on the alien ships alternating the colors, one allows us to load the bar of the devastating Drain that accumulates all the damage inflicted to the enemies for an explosion of destructive bullets. With the other, instead, he increases the damage multiplier thanks to Crush. It then becomes necessary to learn the alternation of colors and what effects they cause, so much so that in some boss battles we will not only have to shoot but also use our brain.
Initially, it might be a bit tedious to learn by heart how to use the weapons of the three gods. For this reason, Manufacture 43 has seen fit to include a Tutorial mode in addition to the Arcade, as well as a training mode that allows us to practice on the passed stages. Obviously, as there are three levels of difficulty, if you pass a stage in Normal mode you will be able to train on the latter in this difficulty. It might seem like a senseless choice, but in reality, it would be absolutely unnecessary to face the levels without learning them. However, once you overcome a difficulty it can be useful to train in case you want to tackle the game in hard mode.
As if that were not enough, the plot undergoes small variations depending on the difficulty level chosen, with Easy it is only necessary to pass four stages, in Normal and Hard there are instead five. It even changes the order in which we will deal with them, with the exception of the first stage and the final one which however is not present in the lowest difficulty level. Pawarumi undoubtedly disposes of a mechanic that is difficult to learn and master but when you managed to overcome this first obstacle then the game becomes a joy, challenge, and pure adrenaline. We will have to wisely use the weapons in our possession, alternating them with a pinch of strategy.
Furthermore, the title comes to our aid thanks to an interface that reminds us of the color combinations. What is striking, however, is how well this all went with the excitement and the action of the title. We will always find waves composed of multiple enemies and an infinity of bullets on the screen. Therefore the strategy must combine observations and dodging skills, typical of a shoot’em up worthy of belonging to this class. Everything works optimally. The works offer exciting and adrenaline-filled sections and the boss battles are impressive and well characterized.
Manufacture 43’s production defends itself very well also from a technical point of view. It is difficult to encounter declines in frame rates, despite the number of shots and space ships on the screen. The game boasts 3D graphics even if it develops vertically like Ikaruga, 1943, Battle Garegga, MUSHA, Terra Cresta, DonPachi, Radiant Silvergun and so on. This helps to make you understand the structure of Pawarumi better. There is also good animations, particle effects, and polygonal patterns. Unfortunately, it is noteworthy that some cooperative modes have not been designed for a second player, a possibility that would probably have damaged the gameplay but that many would have expected.
Having tried the Switch version, we also confirm that the game defends itself very well in portable mode. Being developed with resources that are not overly complex, we can say that on a small screen it is even more enjoyable. Considering also the nature of the title, it is really good on a laptop. On TV, however, the production shows the side to some slight smudges that do not compromise the audiovisual experience. The soundtrack is also very good and during the stages, it keeps the sounds a little softer than usual.
Pawarumi is a very original game, which enriches the world of shoot’em ups with interesting dynamics designed to engage the player by creating a strategy that is not limited to just shooting. The combination of colors to get the desired result is not really immediate but with a minimum of practice you can master it and you are ready to challenge the game on the easy difficulty. For the other difficulties, it needs a lot more but the fans will look forward to putting themselves to the test. If you love this old school genre, you will certainly like Manufacture 43’s work. Playing on the Nintendo Switch is also very enjoyable even in portability mode.
Pawarumi proved to be a small surprise; a strong appeal to the old school that bases the experience on an original mechanic. The work carried out by Manufacture 43 is valuable from all points of view. Without a doubt, a title to keep an eye on.
- Excellent combination of strategy and skill
- Excellent level design
- Good training modes
- No local cooperation mode
- It could be better visually