Shmups Forum
* FAQ    * Search
 * Register  * Login 
It is currently Thu Jun 08, 2023 11:31 am View unanswered posts
View active topics

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Wings of Bluestar (XB1 - X|S - PS4|5 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2023 8:46 am 

User avatar

Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 716
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base

I've saw this game since Shinu announced it. It was nice to following its development since day 1, and now I can finally give it a shot.
Yeah, I'm talking Wings of Bluestar by Shinu Real Arts.

The Wicked Maze

The game gives you two options, the Bluewing piloted by Aya Morobito and the Altair piloted by Zarak. The Bluewing is the R-9/Dino-246 like ship that uses a Shield, which is the Force that goes in front of the ship (Voyager on the Dino-246's case). Unlike the R-Type-like ships, it doesn't grant you any particular beams, acting as a defense and special attack which requires to throw the Shield as a beam, mirroring the Dino-246's Voyager "Bomber" attack. Its Add-ons (Bits in R-Type and Ios in Pulstar/Blazing Star) can aim on a desired direction, if the player aims up, BOTH Add-ons aim up. The Bluewing's Add-ons fire a stream of bullets on the direction they're aiming, making them a full 360° Support Vulcan. This is also the only ship that requires power ups to increase the main weapon's strength.
The second ship, Altair has a different play mechanic. To begin with, it powers up throughout a level-up mechanism similar to the XA-1/XA-2 from Jaleco's E.D.F. Earth Defense Force, but its shots are stronger than those of the Bluewing. As you take down enemies constantly, the ship will power up one level, making all the obtainable upgrade items useless. The Add-ons fire laser beams of continuous duration as long as you hold the fire button. The rotation is different as they upper and lower add-ons move on open-close directions, this means the upper one moves up and the lower is down, kinda like the Round Vulcan from Axelay. Although it lacks of a shield, it replaces it with a chargeable laser that destroys most bullets.

Just what I needed. Thanks!

The core gameplay of Wings of Bluestar is heavily based on the Neo-Geo shmup Blazing Star in the aspects of combo making, score multiplying madness involving charged shots. But on this game, the score mechanics change depending on the ship you're using. The Bluewing ship uses its Shield to get the chains by touching small enemies, but unfortunately it can get damaged and destroyed by hitting bullets or using it to exploit a boss, while the Altair uses a charged beam to destroy the bullets which became bonus panels at the same time. While the Add-Ons give the game the R-Type/Pulstar look that Aicom/Yumekobo borrowed from IREM for the Dino's Ios, their controls are more similar to the Movers from Gleylancer as they involve rotation. Unlike Pulstar's Ios which could be locked at a desired angle, you can reset their default position immediately by pressing a button. Speaking of controls, you have two fire buttons, one is to fire your regular shots at normal speed, while the second fire button is to fire but in a slower speed, helping you to navigate through tight spots. Learning this is essential to take care of enemies that could appear from in front and behind your ship. Making "Chains" is one way to obtain points, but the other is getting Risk Stars. This requires you to get close to enemies and even through gaps between bullets to make them appear. Although your ship goes down with one hit, the game grants you three lives before going down and you can respawn right where you left off rather than a checkpoint like Pulstar did, making the game fair but still challenging and fun for two players. One of the major key features was the option to play the game on either Story Mode and Arcade Mode. Arcade is like the name implies, your no plot, zero blah-blah-blah, pull no punches shooting action where you're pitted to the 8 stages with no excuse to stop the action, while Story Mode is your game with a vast storyline and a few new elements which I'll mention a while. But before I'll explain a few more things of the gameplay.

The game has a few differences. ¿Remember that Blazing Star lacked of a 1Up system? This game addresses that by sending a Patema piloted UFO at the beginning of the Hollow Moon stage. Although it is only a once-in-the-whole-playthrough, it is good to have a small second chance to progress a little further or even complete the game.

It's like a treasure hunt, but much more lovely.

Remember the LUCKY Bonus Panels? This game also brings that feature but in a much easier way. While in Blazing Star you had to take down an entire formation of purple-green ships (According to Neo-Geo Freak, those ships are called "Platin") to obtain a letter which granted you bonus points at the end of the stage. Wings of Bluestar simplifies that as we can get them by taking down an enemy or simply appearing on the screen. Getting all the panels that form Patema's selfie will give you 1000 Risk Stars.

Sometimes the game will require some obstacle navigation.

The game pulls some Gradius III-like challenges. One of the levels has a speed tunnel like segment, but with turrets firing from above and below. Fortunately you can avoid the enemy fire by moving to the right before the cannons begin to fire, giving you time to navigate through the tunnel while staying out of danger. This game pulls a few stage hazards where do you have to navigate through tight tunnels and spinning gears. One of the bosses also involve getting close to the main body of the boss to damage it and to avoid the spinning blades that protect it.

Risk Store™: The Official Patema store in Bluestar.
TODAY'S PROMO: Buy 10 items and get a summer, beach-themed Patema pin-up.

You wanted to know what the Risk Stars are meant for?, Well here's the answer: Like in Area 88/U.N. Squadron, there's the store where you can buy things. But unlike McCoy's Storehouse where you can buy weapons, here you can buy the unlockable contents of the game. Risk Stars are the currency of the game which can be stacked through multiple playing sessions regardless if you win or die and choose not to continue the game. The Risk Store allows you to buy extra credits and additional content like the Gallery, the Awards database, Boss Rush mode and Sound Test.

It's like Panini's Qatar 2022 album all over again.

You've might unlocked a feature, but that doesn't mean you'll get them so easily. After buying the gallery, you have to buy each pic separately rather than playing the game on certain levels and get'em for free like the Digital Viewer from Thunder Force V: Perfect System. Fortunately, the price tage for each image is not too expensive allowing you to obtain one or three pics through your gameplays. You can unlock fan arts, concept sketches and Shinu's official artwork. While all the mentioned content requires Risk Stars, the Story Mode cutscenes are for free as you unlock them when you reach the particular cutscene on Story Mode.

Tonight on Ancient Aliens: "Ancient Supercomputers".
¿Did extraterrestrial beings brought computers to our civilization before we could even create them?

Story Mode pulls the concept of adding the game a plotline quite well, starting off with the introductory cutscenes. While quite lengthy, it explains all what you need to know about the basic aspects of the world of Bluestar.

Paragon or Renegade? Your choice.

Along with cutscenes, the game grants you the option of picking a choice, which affects the story and that means the outcome of the battle. Here's an example for Zarak: "Who are you? > I had enough sleep yesterday > I just need some fresh air = Ending #1: Eternal Amnesia". Apparently you can unlock more choices after completing the game.

Trigger, everyone, listen up. The operation was a success.
Erusean defense forces have been neutralized and all Arsenal Birds are down.

There's also room for briefings along with the visual novel styled cutscenes. While you can make the text scroll fast for the sake of faster navigation, it lacks of a "Skip" button like in Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced where pressing Start allowed you to skip all the cutscene if you don't wanted to watch all of it.

While the game has all what it takes to be the new Blazing Star, or getting close to that title, everything goes down the trash as flaws and bugs begin to hammer the player's gaming session, and they range from minimal to critical.

1.- The life stock. Most games consider 0 as the zero of all life stock, get killed with zero lives at reserve and it's Game Over (or Continue), right? Well, not in here. The game relies on the "1 is the zero" rule of Super Mario Bros.

2.- While the game grants you the option of continuing the game on pure "Arcade style" for story mode, you can also pick "NO" and resume the game later, but that's where a problem kicks in: Your score and power levels are not saved. Your credits stock is intact, yes, but if you were planning to use this featured after being killed on the later levels you're fucked unless you're a pro-player or something, making more convenient to star the game all over again. Is like thinking on a Megaman X game where the password could get you in the Sigma levels, but without saving your Hearts, Sub-Tanks and Armor parts.

3.- I don't know if we can call this a bug or not, but the enemies can be killed by the stage hazards on stages 3, 4 and 5 (I could say the game is playing fair in terms of "If player dies crashing, so the enemies").

4.- The "Patema Bonus" in stage 8 is quite broken, sometimes the game gives you the second panel and others don't.

5.- There's broken awards. One of them is the Stage 6 "Clear without using credits" award. Fortunately, it doesn't affect achievement/trophy progression.

6.- Aya's "Shield" is prone to destruction. Anyone who played Pulstar and Blazing Star will remember that the Dino-246's Voyager acts the same way as the Force from R-Type as the invincible frontal shield regardless of what touches it. On Wings of Bluestar, if a bullet or a boss makes contact with it, it will damage it until its Shield gauge is depleted unless the player discards it as the "Beam" weapon.

7.- Zarak's chargeable beam has delay times. If Shinu played Blazing Star, will probably know that the charged shot gauge is always ready for the next charge. Here it has to delay around 5 seconds before charging again. This reminds me more of the "Charge Break" on Blazing Star. But there had sense since you cut-off the charge attack in an abrupt way.

And no matter how many times you hit somebody, they don't die!
Die! What the hell?

Now we're in the Critical level of the game's bugs as they go even further.

8.- Being Stage 6 boss one of the worst, as this R-Type-esque worm machine has destructible parts that after going down, the boss doesn't explode, and no matter how much you shoot at it, it won't die. My only guess was to destroy the chutes where the worm emerges, but believe it or not, they're not destructible. So the only way to "win" the level is by surviving the worm's attack patterns until the time runs out, and to make things worse, that means 8 minutes of mindless shooting and bullet dodging, and believe me, there's nothing more humilliating than being killed by a defeated boss who refuses to die.

9.- If you're playing Story Mode with Zarak and after leaving the game you pick Arcade Mode by mistake, the game will think you've been playing with Aya 'cos she's the default option. Yeah, one small error in picking Arcade Mode instead of Story will erase your progress as one character.

All your efforts went down the drain.

10.- But the nail that seals the coffin of problems happens during the final boss fight at level 8, as the boss takes damage, an error message will pop-up and close the game sending you to the XBOX Dashboard. ¿How good is a shmup if I can't even finish it? All the mentioned problems are a clear testimony that the game was not tested properly before releasing it. I don't know who's to blame but one thing is certain for sure: This is a great example of "TEST YOUR GAME BEFORE RELEASING IT".

One thing is certain, that Chain is "Over 9000".

BONUS DATA: Did you know you can get a Chain of 10000 and further? All you have to do there is to go to the tutorial, pick Bluewing (Aya), and when the game explains you about the shield, just go to the right side so the chain doesn't reset before the next enemy appears, all you have to do is leave the ship there until you get the desired chain.

All hand-drawn. No sprites required.

Graphically, this game is pretty unique since EVERYTHING was hand drawn: Cutscenes, ships, enemies, landscapes and even planets. All of them with parallax-styled scrolling and 3D tunnel effects that add depth to the game. This makes the game kinda look more like an interactive cartoon instead of a Flash game like all the other indie shmups that break with the use of sprites or CGI models. Despite looking and feeling "Home-made", they're an accomplishment for what Shinu's aiming for and is something to be applauded.

...and that's the Low-Resolutia Nebulae.

While the hand-drawn illustrations for every single aspect of the game are well made, there's some flaws and they can be found in Stage 1 where the nebulae has a low-resolution/overpixelation problem as if the pic was taken from a bad internet archive or something.

The Canyon of Grand Shell

Wings of Bluestar doesn't nod Blazing Star only in gameplay, but also in some scenes. For example, Stage 2 borrows influences from "The Canyon of Grand Shell", there's an ocean stage that is a homage to "The Guardian's Criff" and there's 3D tunnel segments in clear reference to "The Wicked Maze".

What a hero turns out to be with that expression.

I couldn't resist to talk about this one, but look at Zarak's expression at the end of the intro, is laughable. Of all the possible ways to show the protagonists, the less thing you'll do is depicting them in an "Aww, fuck" kind of face. I understand that he's amnesiac, but that doesn't work for a title screen pose.

The music of this game, rather than following Harumi Fujita-Seisuke Ito's fast, electronic, anime influenced style, Shinu takes a more Alternative-New Age approach similar to Robert Miles and Jean-Michel Jarre. The Main Menu-Options theme is a good example of what you'll get throughout the whole game. So if you like the Ambient-Alternative songs of the 90's with a mix of Euro-Synth, you'll definitely like the soundtrack of the game: Fast, rhythmic with brief calm-but-not-slow energy packed moments. Appropiate for your everyday space shootouts.
It was nice to see how the opening cutscenes had voiced narration, but that's only for the prologue because once when we're on the briefing-like cutscenes, the text will use a typing machine sound effect as the text appears. For a futuristic game, the typing machine sounds out of place. I think silence or maybe the "Klaklakla-kla-klakla" text sound from the first Megaman X would work, that also means no voiced dialogues, which is kinda disappointing. Despite that flaw, the game has voiced samples like "Bonus" and "Nice" in a clear homage to Blazing Star.


Zarak the Movie Geek.

- In the Transformers franchise, Zarak is the name of a Nebulan leader who became a Headmaster, a small robot that transforms into the head of a larger Cybertronian robot and powers him up. In Zarak's case is the Decepticon Scorponok. He was the first Non-Cybertronian Decepticon leader.
- Zarak's comment about "Dormant Implants", "dime-a-dozen action flicks" and "Secret labs making super soldiers" are a reference to films such as Total Recall and Captain America: The First Avenger.
- The award "A Blazing Star" obviously refers Blazing Star, the Neo-Geo shmup which this game borrowed influences.
- This is the first entry in the Bluestar series as Shinu is currently working on a second game which changes the shmup genre in favor of a Megaman clone.

More like "Mission failed", Nina.

Wings of Bluestar is a visual homage to Blazing Star, while the gameplay reminds me more of Gleylancer, E.D.F. and Pulstar with a few elements borrowed from Yumekobo's masterpiece shmup. The game has a lot of potential, but the flaws encountered throughout the gameplay just kill the whole thing which is sad because this aimed to be the Blazing Star of Indie games.

Lea hates broken games.
Get out of her sight.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup and video game reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

 Offline Profile  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Space Pilot 3K template by Jakob Persson
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group