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Kyotokei (Wii) artwork

Kyotokei (Wii) review

"Kyotokei tries to be the horizontal Ikaruga and it does what it sets out to do in a perfunctory fashion, lacking distinction or panache. That being said, if you loved Ikaruga, you’ll like Kyotokei, because how many other colour based shoot-em-ups are there really? "

Kyotokei sets out to be a side-scrolling Ikaruga with cutesy characters – developers Microforum Ltd. bandy press releases which all but confirm this. If you’re lost already, you can probably check out now; Microforum has a very specific target market, and you’re not it.

To wit: Ikaruga, is a 2D shooter first released eons ago on the Sega Dreamcast, when 2D shooters weren't extinct. Further, it belongs to a sub-genre of shooter known as bullet hell shoot-em-ups. To narrow our audience even more, Ikaruga is known for its colour-based bullet dodging (and absorbing) mechanics. Taking inspiration from a form that specific, guarantees Kyotokei's obscurity – we can only infer that this game was a labour of love aimed at like-minded players.

Ikaruga was – and is – extremely difficult, like many old school classics. Not only are you expected to dodge hailstorms of incoming enemy projectiles, but there’s almost a puzzle game element to it, as you are also required to absorb red bullets and dodge blue ones when your ship is red – and with the press of a button changing your ship blue, make the on-the-fly adjustment to absorb blue and dodge red. The game rates you on your performance, and similarly rewards you for chaining blue and red enemy groups apart from one another – so it’s not enough to just blast away and survive. You need to do your killing in an orderly fashion.

Kyotokei expects the same, and more, and the “and more” is not a good thing. Given the obnoxious level of difficulty, certain improvements would have gone far in keeping us interested and keeping us from breaking our controllers.

More continues would have been nice – perhaps not right away, but the ability to unlock more after a certain amount of time clocked could not have hurt. The cutesy character visuals are bright and colourful and adequately drawn, but the backdrops are static and uninteresting.

Good tunes often champion bad ass shooters, but the score is a forgettable fusion of synthesized dance and elevator music. Worst of all, despite Ikaruga’s punishing personality, at least that player ship is small, and its “hitbox” even smaller.

Kyotokei (WW) asset

Kyotokei’s character is not small. It brings to mind Cloud Master and that game’s ponderous protagonist. Bullets seem large too, and so a projectile grazing the hero and causing death reminds me of watching Wimbledon and seeing a tennis ball paint the outside of a line in slow motion only to be called “in”.

Despite these failings, Kyotokei manages to have a certain appeal. While difficult to master, it’s easy to pick up and play, and it offers two-player simultaneous play, so that you can drag a friend along to die with you. I’ve been hard on the difficulty curve, but at least the developers had the sense to include three levels of difficulty for us to choose from (although even on Easy, progress is hard-earned).

Kyotokei tries to be the horizontal Ikaruga and it does what it sets out to do in a perfunctory fashion, lacking distinction or panache. That being said, if you loved Ikaruga, you’ll like Kyotokei, because how many other colour based shoot-em-ups are there really?

Kyotokei (WW) asset

If you enjoy shooters in general, but Ikaruga left you cold, Kyotokei won’t win you over: inferior presentation, little appreciable charm and far more unforgiving gameplay ensure that Kyotokei won't earn any fans who don’t already love the game Microforum is honouring.


Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (September 09, 2011)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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honestgamer posted September 09, 2011:

The hit box thing really does sound like an issue. I can forgive a lot of the other stuff, but a hit box that's bigger than it seems like it should be is hard to take. Looking at the screens, this looks like it also borrows a bit from Deathsmiles... though maybe I'm just saying that because of the flying witch.
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Masters posted September 09, 2011:

Yeah, a fat guy and a fat hit box and fat bullets... I don't like the combination.
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pickhut posted September 09, 2011:

Wow, I was actually browsing the Wii Shop last night and saw this game before downloading a certain something else. Since I've been in a specific shmup phase lately, I almost wanted to download it for kicks. After reading your review, it's a good thing I didn't. Was never a huge fan of Ikaruga (but didn't hate it, either), so this being a flawed clone of it probably would have made me rage.

It was a helpful and informative review, Masters!
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Masters posted September 10, 2011:

Awesome! Glad it helped. I wasn't a huge fan of Ikaruga either.

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