You can pretty much guess at what you’re gonna get with a Xitilon game. That often being a pixelated art style platformer that will usually keep you busy for a couple of hours or so. Shiro, from the folks at Game Dynasty, is no different.
Holo and Shiro are sisters, who are on the hunt for a mysterious artifact. However, their journey is interrupted by the evil witch Satella, who kidnaps Shiro and has taken her prisoner in a gloomy cave. Playing as Holo, you immediately set out to find her.
Before Shiro is kidnapped, there is a brief spell where both sisters are together as you play, when some dodgy looking birds start firing purple energy balls at your airship. This is a brief but fun little sequence, and rather sadly doesn’t make a return as the rest of the game plays out on foot.
There are four areas to battle through in Shiro: the forest, temple, mushroom cave and red cave system. Each is cosmetically different in terms of look and feel, but each plays pretty much identical to the other.
It’s really hard to describe Shiro’s visuals as anything better than average. There are a slew of games which look very similar and it does nothing to stand out from the crowd. The pixel art style is heavily overused in games, especially platformers. Still, the soundtrack is a little more distinctive, and does a solid job throughout the game.
Once you’re on foot, you’ll need to jump, slash and roll your way through the dangerous world of Shiro. You can also wall jump to reach higher areas, however the response time on your control inputs sometimes feel laggy and will often cause you to die. Rolling will allow you to dodge enemy projectiles for a short time, so you can get the drop on them and hack them to pieces. There are a few different attack patterns that enemies will display, but after a few deaths you’ll figure it out. There is no real penalty for dying either, with very regular checkpoints and unlimited lives.
You’ll encounter Satella around halfway through, in a very basic boss battle which is simply a case of dodge and attack. At the end, you run into her again and give chase through the cave system. However, you won’t fight her this time but instead simply catch up and then it’s game over. It’s an anticlimax to say the least.
The only real attempt at fleshing out the gameplay is the introduction of glowing symbols, which you can attach to and use to fire you through the air (in a similar way to the barrels in Donkey Kong Country). There are only a couple of variants however. One will fire you in the direction of any four of the compass points of your choosing, whilst the other will continuously rotate and require precise timing to launch you safely onwards.
There is a gradual difficulty curve in Shiro, and it’s near the top of this where the game is most enjoyable. There are some short sequences which require a combination of good reflexes, precision and a little luck as you traverse the caves riddled with spikes and floating orbs of doom (I’m not 100% sure that’s their official name).
Unfortunately, as Shiro starts to get a little more challenging, it ends. There are roughly two hours or so of gameplay here with little to no replay value. You’ll most likely pick up all the achievements as you play, perhaps the most “challenging” being freeing all the caged birds along the way. That said, they are all pretty easy to find in the linear levels.
Taking all of this into account, Shiro will only cost you £4.19 at full price which isn’t bad for a couple of hours of pretty straightforward platforming action.
Shiro is a ten-a-penny platformer which achieves what it sets out to do; no more, no less. If you fancy some cheap thrills and easy Gamerscore, you’ll know exactly what to expect here.
You can pick up Shiro from the Xbox Store