I had a huge gap in my gaming experience when it came to SHUMPS, for those of you who don’t know SHUMPS are “Shoot ’em Ups.” I vaguely remember having a Gradius on my Super Nintendo and then I kind of fell off the bandwagon of those games for some reason. Thankfully because of YouTube I’ve rekindled my love for these unique games that we just don’t seem to get enough of anymore. The original Xbox had several that I found out about recently and I decided to boot one up and see what I was missing. Xyanide is the first one that I found, developed by PlayLogic Entertainment and released in August of 2006. This game really breaks the box of SHUMPS and I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled that I hunted this game down successfully; it wasn’t very easy to find.
First off, let me say that this game is insanely gorgeous, I know that the original Xbox was the most powerful system in that generation but Xyanide really put the Xbox through its paces with the graphics. The opening cutscene had my jaw on the floor with just how beautifully done it was. The developers nailed the apocalyptic look of this futuristic world. I wanted to know more about the place but sadly the cutscene ended and thrust me into the game with no more deep looks into this world. Apart from the cutscenes, the actual gameplay looks great as well. Diverging from the normal SHUMP formula and going from the bottom of the screen to the top Xyanide makes some great changes. You are on rails and can move a little bit in the lane, but instead of taking you straight up the screen you are moved to every point imaginable. PlayLogic made sure to use every bit of power to get the levels to bend and twist around you as you defeat ships that only want to see you dead.
The story of the game is a pretty scary one. You find yourself watching an execution, an execution of what looks to be a young girl. What you find out is that she is a terribly powerful entity that can bend the world to her whim. As the ship pierces her chest to take her into the black hole she slowly takes control of the ship and turns the ship and that galaxy into a nightmare for any pilot that survived the initial attack. You fly around what she creates and she creates it and attempts to destroy the most important parts of the entity she is creating. Think of yourself as a disease in a human and you’re going after the heart and lungs while the immune system does everything it can to destroy you. That is pretty much what this game is like, and it must be my immune system that it is using because this game is HARD!
For how difficult this game is the controls don’t let you down as you weave and fire and dodge. The left thumbstick is move and in an odd design choice, the right thumbstick is aim and fire. I’ve never been a fan of games that use the right thumbstick to attack like Grabbed by the Ghoulies and Too Human, but this felt natural once I got used to it. Maybe it was due to the fact that I was firing lasers and missiles and not wielding a sword. Right Trigger switches the main weapon back and forth, Left Trigger is your secondary weapon, you hold it down aim with the right thumbstick then release to unleash the barrage. When you think you’re in trouble press B and you shield will pop up for a short amount of time. There are certain ships that you can destroy for power-ups, I didn’t see any rhyme or reason to the power-ups you get, but they do come in handy when you decide to use them.
This game is very fun, for people who aren’t as adept at SHUMPS I suggest playing it on Easy, that’s what I did and I still got my teeth kicked in. It is a pretty difficult game to find, so I don’t suggest purchasing it on a whim. If you are a hardcore fan of SHUMPS or are trying to get better at the genre it is a great game to start out with, just due to the fact that it has difficulty settings. There are other SHUMPS out there that offer no quarter for your sucky ass. There were a lot of SHUMPS that came out for this generation, Chaos Theory, Ikaruga and so on, but for some reason, they didn’t gain any traction and they really aren’t coming out on current generations. If you feel you are missing out on some SHUMPS I suggest grabbing this title and quenching that thirst, if you’re just looking to dabble, go a cheaper option.