Review: Mamorukun Curse!
Hopefully you’ve played Ikaruga on an older console, but it’s not entirely a prerequisite to play Mamorukun Curse! which was co-developed by G.rev, one of the developers responsible for Ikaruga. UFO Interactive has brought Mamorukun Curse! to the PlayStation Network exclusively for PS3. I can’t help wondering how awesome this game would be on Vita, with the instant satisfaction of turn the system to the side and playing it the way it’s meant to be played.
So what does the North American version of Mamorukun Curse! include for $20? The full Japanese version plus DLC of the game which adds two Netherworld Adventures courses, two additional characters for play in Arcade and Netherworld Adventures modes only, and alternate costumes for the seven base characters. The game features a Story Mode, Arcade Mode, and Netherworld Adventures as well as a Practice mode for Netherworld and Arcade with online leaderboards. There is a gallery where you’ll find a decent amount of art to unlock with each character across all modes.
Pro Tip: In Story mode, it’s Game Over when all five characters take a single hit. Learn the layout of each level and memorize where hearts are located so you can resurrect your team.
In Story mode, you’ll choose the order in which to play all five available characters. The story in Mamorukun Curse! is a little zany, which is to be expected anytime anime is thrown into the mix. Mamoro gets hit by a truck and wakes in the Netherworld which is being consumed by darkness. Fululu, it’s protector of sorts, calls for the help of the “chosen souls” to push the darkness away and save the world. Throughout the Story, you read line after line of dialogue between the five characters representing the main game. Fululu is very careless. The other four characters cover the gambit of personalities. Thankfully, there is a “skip” feature to get into the action more quickly. Once in the game, it plays the same as every other mode except each character can only take one hit.
Each of the seven characters in Mamorukun Curse! has a different bullet pattern. Of course, my favorite one is only available in Arcade or the NetherWorld Adventures via the included additional content. The characters fly through the levels and handle reasonably well with the left stick. The right stick is for aiming your shots, but I quickly discovered the game doesn’t let you shoot behind your character. This game’s hook is supposed to be the curse bullet which can be used strategically to curse yourself and power up for a short period or curse your enemy and slow them down but make them deadlier. You can charge the R1 button for a curse bullet blast of sorts, that shoots through a row of enemies dealing massive damage.
Pro Tip: Use the Curse Bullet often during heated battles. It’s easy to forget about but can quickly clear the screen of bullets and enemies when used correctly.
Since Mamorukun Curse! is a single player only game, you’ll need to leverage each character’s strengths and the curse bullet to get through some of the tougher sections. There is no shortage of big boss fights in this top-down shooter. During some big bosses bullets will fill the screen and everything slows down to a crawl. Most enemies take up half of the screen, which is technically 1/6th of the screen given that the game only plays in the center third of the screen. There is an option to rotate the gameplay to fill the screen in portrait if you can turn your HDTV on its side.Let me know how that works out for you.
Netherworld Adventures is a type of trials mode where you pick any three of the seven characters and complete a variety of missions. Having played this with few others with review copies out there, there was not much competition on the leaderboards. The fact that Mamorukun Curse! includes local and online leaderboards for score and time within both Netherworld Adventures mode and Arcade mode is a huge selling point that easily accentuates the shmup gameplay. I just wish they were a bit easier to get to from within each mode without backing out to the main menu. Japanese games tend to have a clunky UI and Mamorukun Curse! is no exception. Instead of pressing Circle on any screen to go back, some modes require you to press Start to exit.
Pro Tip: When cursed, each character shoots a different pattern of powered up bullet hell. Master this and your character will be unstoppable.
Arcade mode is unique because there are unlimited continues. You choose just one character to take through the levels of the game in the order you choose. This is where shooting crazy enemies like dashing turtles, giant toads, and mechs is fun for awhile, but other enemies becoming a bit repetitive. Ice walls mean to slow you down, uninspired enemy spawn pods, bullet pods, or giant shooting skulls are simply cannon fodder until the boss fight. A couple levels have you dodging indestructible obstacles like giant rolling balls and spikes. One thing I really liked about the level design were the forks in the road. I could choose to go up through the level or take a narrow secret path tucked away between two buildings.
Overall, Mamorukun Curse! is a solid shoot’em up that fell short of my expectations of a game coming from the legacy that is Ikaruga. There is no shortage of content, replayability and fan-service to appeal to anime junkies or fans of shmups. Adding the DLC from the Japanese version, and bringing the trophy count to a whopping 66 with a platinum, helps. The hook of the game is the curse bullet and it does offer a decent risk reward strategy for beginners and veterans of the genre alike. Mamorukun Curse! never truly delivered the bullet hell gameplay I was hoping for and just when it begins to, the game suffers a terrible slow-down that would backhand the whole experience.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Comes with the DLC Japan had to pay for separately
- Nice selection of characters with different shooting arrangements
- Choose your path level design
- Three entertaining modes of play
- Online leaderboards
- 66 trophies means plenty to do
- Curse Bullet as a strategy
What I Dislike:
- No multiplayer
- Gameplay slows down to a crawl during bullet hell sequences
- Missing that hook that made Ikaruga great
- A bit too much anime for my tastes