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 Post subject: Sisters Royale (XB1 - PS4 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:16 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 359
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Time for more multi-console shooters. Today's review: Sisters Royale.

This is not your typical magical girl shooter.

It's been quite a long time since we've had a shmup from Alfa System. So let's see how good this one is. Sisters Royale, also known as Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire is the latest game from them, while it was initially released on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC, it finally got an XBOX One release.
It is considered as a spin-off of the Shikigami no Shiro series of games due to its similarities on its gameplay.

Looks like the shmup audience has spoken.

I thought you won't be asking that, kid. Besides, looks like we have a lot of eyes looking at Selma rather than reading the review already.

They start by acting just a little discreet.
Then they're in the skies and they're in the streets.

SONAY (ソナイ): The Rapid Fire type and eldest sister. Her main weapon is a frontal fire with a considerably good fire rate. Sonay's Power Shot increases the strength and rate of her shots.
Her Summon attack unleashes a red demon-like creature that locks on nearby enemies, making it very useful for long range attacks and keep you out of danger. Her Bomb unleashes flames in four directions.

Music got my head, spinning all around.
She got me in a trance (in a trance) just by the way she danced.

SELMA (セルマ): The Spread Shot type and second eldest sister. Her main weapon is to fire a 5-Way Spread Shot, resulting in your basic multi-directional fire. Her Power Shot releases a much faster and stronger 7-Way volley. Her Summon attack releases three ice-blades that can be rotated by wriggling the D-Pad or the Analog Stick around. Mastering the triple-blades will allow you to reach some good scoring and deal considerable damages to the enemy. Her bomb unleashes several ice spears that passes through everything.

Dude looks like a lady - Part II: "Lady looks like a dude".

ECE (エジェ): The Auto-Aim type and the middle aged of the group. Her regular shot is a "V" aimed Three-bullets-in-a-row Twin Shot that aims on nearby enemies. Ece's Power Shot increases the rate of fire and its strength. Her summon attack utilizes a middle-ranged lightsaber which acts like the Aryustailm's "Sword" charge shot from Blazing Star. However, it's direction can be adjusted based on the player movement before pressing and holding the summon button (upper left + summon). Her bomb fires four frontal lasers for a few seconds.

She really loves Japanese festivals.

NUR (ヌル): She is the Homing type character and second youngest sister. Her shots are basically the Hunter from Thunder Force as she fires a three way homing shot that locks on enemies. Her Power Shot releases a faster 5-Way volley increasing damages nearby, making her a good option for starters due to her homing capabilities. Her "Summon" unleashes two tornadoes that spin around her. Her Bomb is a stream of frontal explosions.

The cute prankster of the group.

LALE (ラーレ): The "Wide-yet-Frontal" firing character and youngest of the group. She fires a frontal three bullet shot that covers some width due to the size and separation between bullets, but here's the catch: Her fire rate is the worst of all as we have one shot on screen. On its "Power Shot" form, the number of bullets increases to five. Her Summon Attack releases a demon which can be rotated in any direction, it also has a double function; first, it damages any enemy which gets in contact with, and second, absorbs bullets and fires them back after charging. Her bomb attack releases homing lasers that locks on enemies.

The DLC-exclusive mysterious character.

ODE: The Angle-Controlled, Rapid Fire type character and the DLC of the game. Ode is a mysterious character that unlike the five sisters, she has her own agenda involving eliminating Seytan. Her main weapon is a three bullet frontal fire similar to Crueltear's Linear Shot from Triggerheart Exelica, but with a swinging function similar to the Swing Vulcan from Raiden V as the stream of bullets curves as Ode moves. Odes' Power Shot fires a faster and stronger version of her swinging fire. Both of them with great fire rate capabilities. Her Summon is what I can best describe as a "Manual Raystorm Laser Lock" since it utilizes a sight to fire a blast of energy, while Ode's movement is locked, you can move the sight to decide where to drop the lightning. Her bomb turns on-screen bullets into coins and then releases a laser carpet bombing that turns enemies into coins and damages bosses. Unlike the sisters, Ode doesn't slide on the frozen lakes in Stage 2.

The whole structure of this game is based on bullet grazing, Unlike Raiden Fighters and Raiden III where it gradually added points to your score, here you have to scratch a bullet in order to get a major multiplier, being "x8" the biggest and what becomes the "x8 Action" feature of the game. Not just scratching or grazing a bullet is the only way to get an x8 bonus, you can also get close to an enemy to get the bonus obtained from another enemy, this is useful when you're trying to get coins by using the Summon Attack. Hidden in the stages there's "Fairy" items which duplicates the multiplier, making a "x4" become a "x8" and a "x8" become a staggering "x16" bonus, becoming a very important high-score making item for those who are striving to reach Rank SSS whether if they die or finish the game.

While vertical shootouts are well known by Alfa System (Psychic Storm and the Shikigami no Shiro series), looks like they made mistakes in Sisters Royale. First and the worst of all, the Stage Hazards in most of the stages. Being Cave of Ice the worst of all as we have large frozen lakes where your character will be sliding, resulting in a collision/death in 99% of the times, something similar happens with those windmills in the Temple of Wind that will push you and guess what?, you'll hit a bullet!, in a "No Bomb Run" these are the instances where you have no choice but to get hit.
Since this game is a bullet hell where the screen is covered with heavy fire, you'll probably be thinking on using the "Pause-Unpause-Move-Pause-Unpause" trick in order to save a few bombs. But guess what, the game uses the "3 seconds to unpause" crap from Espgaluda and the Dreamcast port of Triggerheart Exelica. So, pausing and unpausing is out of the question. This countdown also appears after saying "Yes" in the continue screen.

Boss battles are timed just like in Blazing Star, so naturally you'll be in a hurry about defeating the boss sister before she escapes or self detonates with deadly consecuences like in Strikers 1945 III. In Sisters Royale's case, when time hits zero you'll enter in Overtime and the screen will be pelting you with mines moving in curved paths across the screen and increasing the number of mines until you die or defeat the boss.

Playing on a higher difficulty adds new features, for example: Playing in Hard will add Treasure Chests with apparently unlimited amounts of coins which a player can exploit the "x16" special multiplier obtained by picking a Fairy and grazing enemies or bullets near the chest. It will also include an additional bar to the sub-bosses and boss sister, giving them a total of 3 bars for sub-bosses and 4 for the boss sister.

¿Did you called me a girl for playing this?
Those pastel colors are only a disguise.

The visual section of the game is quite unique, while the game is a cute'em up that involves the typical "Mahou Shoujo" (Magical Girl) theme and utilizes kawaii looking enemies and chibi styled character designs on pure Parodius style, the game is basically pelted way too much with hearts, jumpy fonts, rounded point stars, pink and pastel tone colors to a point that makes Care Bears, Hello Kitty and Super Princess Peach look like Gears 5, Doom Eternal and Contra III: The Alien Wars if we compare them. Not to mention this game will make you think if you're playing a game for girls. Well, guess what? actually is only a disguise, the "surface of the iceberg" since Sisters Royale is not what it seems. The game will give us clear signs of this from the use of suggestive themes in the story dialogue along with instances of adult comedic humour, so this game is not for younger audiences. While the in-game scenery looks beautifully made as the temples and shrines look gorgeously stunning, we can appreciate that the game is not fully vertical like Raiden or Aero Fighters, is more of a perspective vertical like RayStorm or Axelay due to how the screen scrolls and the angle of things like tombs, trees and even drawn gates and stairs in two of the game's stages.

As for the character design, the game give us the favorite treat of present day gamers, and that's the anime styled girls. This game features a variety of characters that cover the serious adult (Sonay), the sexy girl (Selma), the tomboy (Ece), and the youngsters (both Nur and Lale) even for being the youngest, they're on the legal age of marriage (I'm sure Lale is somewhere on her early 20's). While the artwork depicts them in the standard anime physical proportions, the in-game characters appear in a "chibi" style of "Big head with small bodies". ¿Why that decision?, I don't know, but I prefer the regular proportions just like in the Shikigami no Shiro series, if they're working perfect there, why would not in Sisters Royale?
Another difference from the Shikigami characters is that the sisters run instead of fly around, explaining why they're prone to sliding in Stage 2 except for Ode who's riding her broom.

All the game's cutscenes are like this.
I hate to say it, but they could be better.

A major weakness of this game is the cutscenes, as we only have these character cut-outs that moves "over the other" to represent their dialogue moments. Bad orthography and mistranslations are frequent on this game "Yougest", "listeninto", "final ast outpost", "I sad that", "Four lasers to control space", looks like this game tries to rank up with Blazing Star and Aero Fighters 2 on Engrish terms.

*Eyes glowing and with a robotic voice* ROBOTS IN DISGUISE.

We know there's 5 stages and each one belongs to a sister, so the game has one question: "How to deal with a "Specific Sister boss when the player is using her already" (Example: Selma in Selma stage). There's three options:
1.- Skip the boss fight
2.- Mirror Match with an alternate colored sister
3.- Put an original boss to fight the used sister on her respective stage

Alfa System decided the second option on the form of the character's conscience. Might sound like a good idea when its executed correctly, for instance an alternate colored character (Example: A darker blue Selma), but in this game, the character looks the same, except her eyes are glowing in purple. That kind of thing reminds of those old Transformers commercials where they had a kid with eyes glowing like if they're possessed rather than being "robotic".

Mii would never be replaced, but she will have a successor.

Something that I've noticed is that Sonay has a slight reminiscence to Mii Koryuji from Project X Zone at the point she kinda looks like her successor. Well, her costume has a Mii-like style and combined with Sonay's red hair, it completes the reminiscence. Something similar can be said for Ece, who kinda looks like Lucrezia Noin from Gundam Wing.

The music of this game is what can be considered cartoony and theme park-ish. I'm not talking about the pun-on-the-origins parody music like Parodius as we have this jazzy, silly noted soundtrack that reminds me a lot of games like Cuphead and Top Hunter: Roddy and Cathy, in said games, the music fit with the comedic elements there and in Sisters Royale is the same thing as we have a chibi-styled girls running and shooting cartoonish ghosts and birds, although there is instances where the game pulls some ambient-electronic-esque beat in Stages 2 and 3 with a pace that makes me think of Robert Miles and Blazing Star's Stage 5, bringing an unique mix to create something new on soundtrack terms.

Once again, if we compare Sisters Royale with the Shikigami no Shiro series, then we will find another major blow to the game: LACK OF VOICE ACTING. This thing was an element that made Shikigami no Shiro's world and lore become more alive as we had the characters talking during the cutscenes. Even if they're still images like in Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced, the voices were enough to make you watch the cutscene, not to mention they had some big names from the anime industry to voice the characters. Alfa System forgot that on Sisters Royale giving us only the music making you want to skip the whole reading and go to the game, like I said before, you are given the option of turning the "Story Play" on or off, or simply skip the cutscene with the Menu/Start Button.

- Despite being subtitled "Five Sisters Under Fire" in the consoles online stores, the in-game logo lacks of the subtitle.
- The development name of this game was "Project Kinugoshi".
- The original japanese subtitle says "I’m Being Harassed by 5 Sisters and It Sucks".
- The DLC character Ode is actually Fumiko from Shikigami no Shiro, to be more exact, is a "vessel" (or avatar) doll created by her sent to the alternate world of Pultima to eliminate Seytan.
- Unlike the main five sisters, Ode doesn't have achievements if you clear the game with her or get Rank SS.
- The world of Pultima can be compared with Ace Combat's Strangereal Earth as they are alternate versions of our world that have different landmasses, countries and history, but similarities in their culture. Examples of these similarities can be found in the characters clothing: Nur's Japanese clothes which she mentions they're from an unnamed Japan-like "Eastern country" and the crosses on Selma's dress implies the existence of Christianity and Catholicism in Pultima.
- The wedding dresses of Nur and Lale are somewhat out of place, since Nur's dress resembles more of a Sweet Sixteen one while Lale looks like she's doing her First Communion.
- While anyone would probably pronounce Sonay's name as "Son-ei", her name is pronounced "Son-ai".
- Ece is pronounced "Eh-sheh" like the latin word "Ecce" which means "Behold".
- The correct way to pronounce the name Nur is "Noor".
- Lale is pronounced "Lhy-leh".
- Seytan, the name of the evil alter-ego of Yashin comes from the turkish word "Şeytan" which means "Satan".
- In a twist of irony, the name Yashin comes from the word "Jashin" (
邪神) which means "Evil Deity".
- This is the last game developed and released by Alfa System before the company was acquired by Meteorise.

As the spiritual successor of the Shikigami series, Sisters Royale has a lot of potential, but Alfa System screwed it up in a few instances. But still, Sisters Royale is still being an entertaining shooter and a breather in this world of Gamerscore Milkers and trash shooters as it offers something different from the trash indie shooting that infest the consoles nowadays like Aircraft Evolution.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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

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