Have you ever heard of Team Ninja? They’re a Japanese video game developer that should not exist. If anyone has a time machine, I’d love to borrow it so that I could convince this studio never to begin making games. Why do I despise them? For all intents and purposes, Team Ninja are the progenitors of what they call “breast physics”. For those that aren’t aware, this is the term for anytime a female character in a video game has outlandishly ridiculous physics applied to her chest. In the worst cases, women in games with this disturbing piece of code can look like they’ve had oddly-shaped jello strapped to them. Team Ninja’s infamous reputation for this technology has gone on to inspire too many developers to follow suit. Which brings us to Shing!: an incredibly uncomfortable, overtly sexual game that’s as fun as swallowing rocks.
Created by Mass Creation, this side-scrolling beat ‘em up sees you take control of four different warriors: Tetsuo, Aiko, Bichiko, and Wilhelm. Tetsuo is an obnoxious, whiny, pervert who is either talking about women and how much he loves them, or how enormous Wilhelm’s manhood is. I kid you not, he just wouldn’t shut up about it. On more occasions than I care to count, he talked about this other character’s schlong. Wilhelm, who also goes by “Willy”, has the worst Scottish accent I’ve ever heard in my life. Anytime he talked my ears wanted to fall off. Why’s he Scottish if every other facet of the game is geared toward a more Japanese vibe? Hell, if I know, because the game doesn’t want to talk about its story, setting, or plot.
If it isn’t talking about Willy’s willy, it’s talking about Aiko and Bichiko’s bodies or relationships. The two are sisters, and constantly bicker with one another. Every single piece of their dialogue was written by someone who’s never met a woman. They talk about boys, boyfriends, relationships, ask the male characters if they have girlfriends, and, of course, talk about their “shapely bodies”. Before I forget, yes, every single character in the game pronounces the name as “Bitch-iko”. If that doesn’t tell you how the creators of this game feel about women, I don’t know what will.
Of course, it could be the obnoxious breast physics that I was ranting about in the beginning of this review. I endeavored as much as possible to avoid playing as the female characters. However, if you die in combat as Tetsuo and Wilhelm, you’re forced to fight every enemy while a great deal of unnecessary and uncomfortable jiggling takes place. It’s downright embarrassing. I cannot imagine that this would appeal to any female player anywhere, or that any woman would want to be viewed in such a sexist way.
When you are playing the game, you’re moving from left to right in order to wipe out hordes of enemies. Once the screen is clear, you can move on and do it all again. And again. And again. The game’s solitary unique idea is that of the default controls. You can choose to play by controlling every combat action with the right analog stick. Pointing and flicking it in different directions will take your character through all of their combat motions. It’s a neat idea, because it can make you feel like your fighter is moving with a great sense of fluidity. However, it isn’t implemented too well, since there is zero tutorial explaining how to do different moves with the stick. So, eventually, I decided to use the alternate control scheme of using X and Y to do light and heavy attacks respectively so that I could actually understand what button was doing what.
As far as the combat goes, it’s not amazing nor terrible. Baddies are thrown around in a satisfying way, and there are enough different moves in place to ensure that the fights don’t get too old too fast. However, that could also be due to the fact that I beat the entire game in a single afternoon. Each character has their different strengths and weaknesses based on the range and speed of their attacks, but the fighting doesn’t get much deeper than that. The system is clearly designed for fighting groups of smaller baddies, since every boss fight was an absolute slog. They had too much health, moved in awkward patterns, and felt like they were squeezed in at the last second just so the game could have boss fights.
In terms of story, Shing! is definitely not at risk of winning any awards. As previously mentioned, characters are too preoccupied with making crude euphemisms, and the plot moves along at a snail-like pace. Some magical orb was stolen by someone evil, and the main characters had a sacred duty to uphold by keeping it safe and blah, blah, blah. It’s all incredibly predictable and bland. One would expect to find this story in the back of a thirteen-year-old boy’s notebook.
However, the visuals weren’t entirely made by pubescent children. Aside from the skimpy outfits of the female characters, everything else is made competently enough. It isn’t going to wow anyone with its graphics or aesthetic, but the use of colors is nice and the animation is actually well-done. The different ways that your demonic foes are eliminated is visceral and fun to watch, but further begs the question of how this game got away without being rated M.
Now, I firmly believe that video games are for and can be made by anyone. The stories they can tell are entirely unique to the medium. Yet, when a title like Shing! on Xbox comes along, I can’t help but feel annoyed. Its uninspired combat system, lack of narrative cohesion, and insultingly crass writing makes the game one that doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near the enormous collection of well-made titles the industry has to offer. If you give Shing! a try, I promise that you’ll be wi-shing! you hadn’t.