Warning, massive post. I'd hide it in a spoiler tag but that makes all the text the same colour and I put some more URL links in there.
Okay, opened up the readme - the controls on a 360 pad look fine, but the default mappings on a keyboard are icky. Spacebar should not be mapped to the main shot button since on some older keyboards it interferes with controls (Left Shift, Z, X controls became a staple of keyboard shmups for a reason). You have everything remappable custom which is nice though, so that's not an issue.
Having switchable on-the-fly shot types for main and sub weapon is cool. My only complaint so far is with the charge shot - if you release the charge shot within a few frames of the bar filling and getting its yellow glow, it fails to shoot. You have to actually hold it about a second longer after the bar fills for it to successfully fire.
A minor nitpick - when you enter a new corridor or room, the entire corridor/room instantly shows on the automap. It's nicer to have each 'block' need to be revealed by touching it since it's more of a surprise when exploring and it helps you better keep track of where in larger rooms you've examined the walls already.
I wish the tutorial section were a totally separate part of the game, like a pilot training simulator. Then, when you actually enter the planet for the first time proper, you have a short period of time to actually explore on your own and come to grips with the game, using your massively outfitted ship without the tutorial's handholding (then losing all those goodies).
I'm not sure I'm crazy about the movement. The "Stop Movement" key for initiating autoscrolling works well, but having a separate button for direction change is less appealing. It feels a bit clunky - I'm more fond of games like Raiga: Strato Fighter
or Deathsmiles where you can fire in any direction at will. However, since you have three shot buttons that won't work here. Have you experimented with a movement system where you can face backwards during autoscrolling? I think for what you have a movement system where when you're not holding shoot tapping left or right will instantly switch directions, and then whenever you hold shoot/sub/special weapon, you hold the direction you're facing? That way, you can scroll forward while facing/changing to either direction, and when you're stopped and press the movement button to restart scrolling, you can simply have the scrolling direction move in the direction you're currently facing. Under that kind of movement you just have to stop firing briefly, and tap left or right when you want to switch directions.
There's a TON of items to craft, but all of them seem to be tied to your ship's stats as opposed to making new weapons? At least that's what I assume, since none of them have detailed descriptions, and only list their respective stats.
There's some typos to address. For instance, when purchasing in the crafting screen it should be "acquired", not "adquired". A couple I noticed on the opening screens I saw too I'll have to go back to.Okay, this right here is pretty annoying:
In this vertical segment, you can shoot through these rocks to hit the turrets in the middle, but they act as obstacles for your ship and if you touch the glowy section you take damage. This is annoying and inconsistent with the side-view sections where you can figure out what sections are 'solid' environmental hazards by shooting at them. I'm aware now to pay attention in the vertical segments to environmental hazards I can shoot but not move through, but I can see this being an issue later on if there's tight spaces I need to squeeze through where I can't use my shots to determine if it's safe to move through or not. There is also a sidescrolling room where you can shoot through a solid wall, whereas other walls in the room block shots, which is really inconsistent design.
It's too early to determine if the RPG elements (healthbar, enemies that take increased damage as you level, etc) are well executed or not. RPG mechanics and shmups rarely mix well, as in the case early game here when the basic popcorn enemies take two hits to kill, so until you gain a level or two you won't be able to actually kill enemy waves effectively with your basic shot. There's a lot of stats in the screen and a lot of equipment slots, but without knowing what each does it's hard to know if they're meaningful, if they'd lead to the game being way too easy once you're vastly overpowered, etc.
For reference, in The Guardian Legend, shot damage is determined by item pickups
so you can't level your way to victory - you will be at an appropriate power level throughout the game as long as you keep finding items before tackling bosses, and bosses have specific tweaks to ensure that they aren't killed too quickly even by the stronger weapons, like damage capping. There is also a levelling element thanks to the scoring as every so often you'll gain slightly more max health as you gain score, but its impact is minor (and you can crash the game by counterstopping it, but this won't happen unless you go out of your way to counterstop the game).
Made it to Apolion Magma's door. There's nothing visually different about the door aside from a message stating I have to find her "core" first to open it. So it's like a key, I guess? Again, I'm pointing to The Guardian Legend - in the game you will encounter various doors and portals. Some are locked and you have to puzzle out how to open them for yourself. In the case of doors that connect one area to the next, they're locked by a door that has a unique symbol on it. It's very obvious that these doors are different from normal ones simply from a visual standpoint, and it's easy for the player to figure out without an ingame prompt explanation that they need a key to open this locked door.
So far, the rooms don't feel distinct enough from one another in terms of the terrain layout or the enemies that appear. I almost wish the game was more like Metroid in that your ship simply hovers in place, and as you move you automatically scroll the screen at your own pace navigating around enemies that were positioned to move and appear more naturally. The scrolling feels rather slow and almost unnatural, especially when I'm simply lost and exploring (and having to go through the same room multiple times) so having the ability to go at my own pace depending on if I know where I am or not, or some kind of turbo function to zip through rooms similar to how you can run in Super Metroid would be a nice convenience. Also, if you switch directions like in front of a doorway and you're at the edge of the screen, sometimes an enemy will immediately appear and hit you as it comes onscreen. Bit of a nuisance.
Honestly, I think the autoscrolling as you're wandering is to the game's detriment. It works in The Guardian Legend because the vertical scrolling segments are all designed to be individual shmup levels played at a specific pace with enemy appearances well-thought out by the game designers. Here, the level design and enemy waves that appear aren't as well thought out in each corridor so the autoscrolling segments aren't all that engaging and I think that's where it needs to be rethought - instead of simply having long corridors where enemies occasionally pop out at what seems like random add more elements to make them feel more interesting and shmuplike. Lava flows that act as hazards, magma that shoots out, boulder hazards that appear, etc. Unless I am mistaken, basic enemy encounters in many rooms is randomized?
In the original Metroid for the NES, the enemies that appeared were not constantly antagonizing you - many felt like part of the natural landscape by simply wandering back and forth and weren't necessarily a direct, immediate threat. The platforming elements in the game meant there was always a constant, interesting threat or hazard. Even in rooms without enemies, you had lava to avoid, secret corridors to hunt for with bombs, and so on. More environmental hazards would be neat - the few special rooms with meteor storms/sandstorms are okay, but it'd be nice to see more unique, individual hazards throughout the areas and not just in a few locations. This room was kind of interesting
, but there's a clipping bug where you can actually move through the spot where the two boulders touch (if you're willing to take collision damage). Only works going up, not down though.
The lack of an onscreen experience meter is unusual, given the space you have onscreen. I just kind of get levelups every so often it seems, but I don't really have an idea of how much exp each enemy gives without going into the status screen constantly. On the GBA Metroidvania games where screen space was limited this is understandable, but here an exp meter would be nice.
Music is way, way too 'epic' for something that is supposed to be about a human coming to colonize a planet. The music gives the feel of a kind of dramatic march to war to destroy the planet, and feels way too intense for the slow paced exploration of the game.
Spreadshot weapons do not register multiple hits on single targets. If you hit an enemy with a spreadfire weapon (the Trishot and whatever starting sub weapon you have, there seems to be nowhere in the menus you can look at weapon names??) and multiple bullets connect at once, the enemy only registers one hit. It limits the strategic options as far as pointblanking goes. I also find your main guns simply don't fire frequently enough, and don't travel fast enough to hit popcorn enemies in a timely fashion. Even early on, your main guns shouldn't feel too useless, but even when I'm levelled up enough that everything dies in one hit and I take negligible damage, my shots aren't firing enough to clear enemy waves nicely.
It'd be nice to be able to instantly teleport to a known teleport location. Hero Core offers this convenience in spite of the level design being much more tightly knit and interconnected (so far less backtracking is necessary), but maybe I'm spoiled? I ran into both a red door in the sand area, and a blue door in the ice area, and was annoyed about the sheer amount of backtracking in exploration. The ice segment's blades were way too easy, so I found it easier to simply suicide than to backtrack properly. The individual gameover screens for each area are a nice touch though. In Metroid, the platforming and map navigation is interesting enough that when backtracking it's not dull, and in The Guardian Legend your walking speed just zips through the exploration areas (considerably faster than the original Zelda even) but here the really slow autoscroll speed coupled with the bland enemy layouts makes it a chore to explore.Stopped playing shortly after here.
I wanted to at least see one boss fight but since the only boss room I located was locked, I spent the rest of the time running into multiple "The Power Source is On The Other Side!" and coloured doors before I decided to call it quits for the day. Usually the key for the boss room in this sort of game is found in the same are the boss is located in but I couldn't be sure - I thought I'd been pretty thorough with hunting for secret doors and with the sheer time it takes to backtrack in this game it wasn't encouraging to have to go hunting through everywhere I'd already been or keep exploring new places and hitting dead ends. I did find a couple more secret doors after this that gave a sub weapon and a slot item, but still no door keys or boss room 'core'. It was also annoying that while the map marked coloured doors, it didn't mark de-powered doors - there was no way for me at a glance to know what on the map were doorways I hadn't checked and what were doors whose power source was in a different room.
You have the good template for a game, but currently the shmupping and navigation are quite dull. The exploration isn't as interesting as your average Metroidvania platformer, and the shmup battles in corridors as you explore feel really sloppy instead of being solidly designed levels. Making a good shmup is very difficult and requires thoughtful enemy placement - simply throwing enemies onscreen at random rarely makes for good gameplay in a shmup. Even as I levelled up, I never felt like I was getting any more powerful because my normal shots still were too slow to kill waves of enemies in a timely fashion (either because they shot too slowly or because I reached a new area where waves of enemies now took two bullets instead of one to kill).
I think you could have a really good game if you changed how enemies appear and how you navigate - make all enemy encounters fixed, so you can design each room uniquely. I'm sure you've played Super Metroid, but I'd go through it again, see how each corridor feels like it was crafted and feels recognizably unique (without needing the map).
Pretend you were making a Metroid sequel, but instead of a platformer, your character floated and had no gravity. Imagine instead of running around, Samus floated. Instead of running, you had a dash button (like Fraxy) so you could boost your way through levels or go slowly at your own pace. Instead of lava pits, the planet had more actively hostile elements to avoid,
ones you couldn't always simply shoot through. You can also experiment with seriously adjusting the weaponry - it doesn't have to be complex to be fun. Even a basic weapon system can be really engaging if it's designed around it (I strongly encourage you to play Hero Core for an example of how a peashooter type weapon can still feel really powerful in a skilled player's hands).