Japanese hell shooters have grown in popularity over the years. Deathsmiles is one title that comes to mind for its replay value and knuckle-whitening gameplay. Mamorukun Curse! by UFO Interactive is a direct port of a Sega Naomi coin-op that was originally released in 2008. As one of seven ‘chosen’ souls sent to the Netherworld to save it from being swallowed up by the World of Darkness, you must seal the gate that separates both worlds.
Mamorukun Curse! approaches the hell shooter genre with a unique variety of selectable characters that are designed for players of different skill levels. Gamers unfamiliar with the hell shooter genre will find the game easier if they play as ether Mamoru, Kinya, Nowa, or Luchino. These characters come equipped with bullet spreads that cover most of the playfield. The remaining characters – Beniko, Mayuno, and Fululu – are designed for veteran players because they are more difficult to play and they start with smaller bullet spreads.
The game includes a team mechanic called ‘Player Order’. This feature allows the player to add two additional characters as back up. However, they will only become available when your main character dies. And since there are no continues, the game ends when your team is defeated.
Gameplay is similar to games like Guwange where the playfield is seen from an overhead vertical perspective. Enemies rapidly pour in from the top of the screen as a hailstorm of bullets clutter the environment. This creates a large amount of slowdown that brings the action to a sluggish crawl. While slowdown is not uncommon in hell shooters, it has become an unspoken rule among gamers to us it to their advantage when the screen is overcome by projectiles.
Like all hell shooters, the gameplay is very unforgiving. Your characters will die instantly if they’re hit by a projectile, so a good amount of skill is needed to survive the onslaught of oddly chosen enemies that range from giant frogs to floating fish, to name just a few. When you have exhausted all the characters from your Player Order selection, you must start the level over from the beginning. Mamorukun Curse! not only takes a lot of practice to master, but plenty of patience as well.
Instead of playing on rails, the game includes branching paths that will sometimes act as shortcuts to the end of the level. These paths will occasionally include hidden score bonuses, power ups and mid-boss battles.
The game contains a multitude of stages that are divided into ‘courses’. The Casual Course, as the name implies, is the easiest of the three available. It contains six stages that are relatively easy to master (even if you’re not good at shooters). Fululu’s Challenge and Nowa’s Challenge are perplexingly difficult, leaving little room for error. Enemies attack so frequently and in such large numbers, you can easily lose track of your character.
Mamoruken Curse! also uses a manual scrolling technique where the environment only moves when your character does. Most shooters use an auto scrolling background that pushes you forward even when you’re technically standing still, so adjusting to this change takes time. The controls feel awkward; the game locks you in place when holding down the fire button. If you’re facing forward and need to fire in a different direction, you have to stop shooting, change your direction and then start firing again. The inability to fire and move in different directions will cause you to die often.
Graphically, the game has aged extremely well. Levels have giant Buddha statues protruding from the ground; ancient Japanese buildings adorn most of the landscape; and luscious fields of grass and bright colors complete the eye-popping ensemble. For all intents and purposes, it’s a testament to the Naomi board’s power.
Gamers looking for a new challenge will appreciate Mamoruken Curse’s unforgiving gameplay, larger than life bosses, and the variety of courses available. While the controls and manual scrolling can get in the way at times, they don’t necessarily ruin the experience; it all boils down to personal preference.
Platform: Playstation 3 (Available on PSN)
Developer: G. Revolution/Gulti
Publisher: UFO Interactive Games
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
|Colorful 3D graphics that have aged well.|
|Ear-jarring explosions and impressive voice acting.|
|Intense action and a large selection of courses.|
|While the controls are not perfect, they do not hinder the experience. Mamorukun Curse! is still a worthy addition to any gamer's collection.|