Home Reviews 2/5 Review SHMUP Mania Review

SHMUP Mania Review


SHMUP Mania leans on the rewind button and goes all the way back to Space Invaders. On the one hand, it makes things easier for developer DERIK D.F., since the shooter classic isn’t the hardest thing to emulate. But on the other, finding something that modern audiences can get their teeth into is a whole other challenge. What do you stir into the Space Invaders pot to make it exciting and worth sticking with?

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When ships attack.

SHMUP Mania side-steps the first opportunity to try something new. It doesn’t mess about with game modes, difficulty modes or ship-choice. You are lumped straight into thirty levels of shooting with nary a cutscene or text scrawl. There is one pre-game option that you will want to pay attention to, though: as default, there’s no auto-fire in SHMUP Mania, so we’d recommend you toggle this on unless you want to end up with carpal tunnel by the end of the thirty levels.

SHMUP Mania side-steps the next opportunity to innovate, too. There are no smart bombs, alternate fires, satellite ships or anything beyond a single button press for a primary weapon. You won’t be needing to press anything else other than A throughout the game. You can probably sense SHMUP Mania’s problem advancing like a huge shoot ’em up boss. 

What it does have is power-ups. There are three of them, and collecting one will cycle out the others. There are no power levels to these bonuses – you can’t keep collecting the one that looks like a Dairylea Triangle to make it an uber-Dairylea Triangle, for example – so there’s the merest sliver of strategy to using them. That triangle has a barely perceptible faster fire (something that only becomes obvious once you toggle the default-off autofire), while the other two are light years ahead. A missile locks onto enemies and obliterates them in a blast, while a star sprays out in multiple directions when it hits. Two of these weapons are game-changers, the other is dire. So, the strategy becomes avoiding one while chasing the others. 

These two are too good, in fact. Take the homing missiles. Ninety-percent of the ships you face can only shoot downwards, true to Space Invaders. Now, try to imagine playing Space Invaders with homing shots. You’d quickly adopt the tactic of sticking to the sides and unleashing hell, right? That’s exactly what happens here. It’s difficult to stray from the obvious tactic of staying out of the way and letting the missiles do all the work. It’s inordinately successful and inordinately boring. 

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Homing shots?

The enemy ships are partly to blame for this, of course. They’re dumb as doornails with two wings sellotaped to the sides. They arrive on screen and charitably wait five seconds for you to wipe them out without firing. Then they start firing, but that fire is rarely more than slow-moving bullets in a downward direction. On occasion, some more funky shaped ships will fire multiple shots, move down the screen to engage, or even fire missiles of their own. But you soon learn to kill those first in the loving five-second amnesty that they give you. Kill the occasionally tough ships first, then mop up the easy ones. Again, it’s not what we would classify as strategy. 

Remember the lack of difficulty modes? That becomes a problem as you will, without doubt, surge through the thirty levels. We didn’t die until the last-last boss, when – finally – things got interesting. Homing missiles chased us about the screen, as we did loops around the ship in a desperate attempt to lose them. Suddenly our brains kicked into gear, only for the credits to roll. 

Ah yes, the bosses. These appear every five levels, looking remarkably similar to each other, and offering cycles of bullets, lasers, ship adds and homing missiles. We managed to kill one of these without them firing a single bullet (thanks, star ability), so while they might look more imposing than the average ship, they are often as difficult as them. We stepped back on the conveyor belt, moving through yet moreships and achievements. 

On that note, SHMUP Mania is one of those games that have jumped on the 2000G bandwagon. Why have a measly 1000 Gamerscore when you can submit a Title Update to Microsoft and get yourself an extra 1000? You will need to reach level 30 to lap up every last drop, but – as mentioned – that’s as easy as pie, and will take you about as long as eating that pie too. We completed SHMUP Mania in just less than an hour. It was a monotonous, sleep-inducing hour, but you’ll get there. 

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Easy Gamerscore for little effort

SHMUP Mania has the most egregious use of ‘Mania’ in a title that we can recall. There’s no Mania here: it’s more a plod or power nap. There is no world where a shoot ’em up should be this boring or easy, but SHMUP Power Nap embraces it, offering no modes, difficulties or even a button to press other than A. 

Emulating Space Invaders was always going to be a challenge, mainly because some bells and whistles were needed to update that classic for a modern audience. But SHMUP Mania goes the other way. It takes things out, making a minimalist game even more minimalist, and the result is a snooze ’em up that you can safely ignore. ‘Mania’ indeed.

TXH Score
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shmup-mania-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Controls are functional</li> <li>A couple of the power-ups are clearly overpowered</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>A couple of the power-ups are clearly over-powered</li> <li>Offers no additional modes or difficulties</li> <li>Enemies are brain-dead</li> <li>Over before you know it</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 22 December 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>
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