As a cross-platform (PS4 and Vita) freebie as part of the April 2016 PS+ line up, Shütshimi is the kind of thing that’ll get the forum idiots – the sort that say ‘why doesn’t Sony give us Far Cry 4?!!?!’ – in a total tizzy. For one, it’s indie as fuck. I mean 2D, retro-pixelly indie. And also, it’s flat out weird. This can put you off and I get why it would (I’m more than a little bored of the style myself) but Shütshimi is decent.
You play as a muscle-bound action hero. Except he’s a goldfish. He has to defend his homeland (land?!) against marauding sharks (in sunglasses), submarines and other sea-things and to do that, you float along destroying them in a 2D horizontally-scrolling shoot ’em up kind of a way. The twist here is that rather than being some sort of R-Type or even Parodius (a game built on a sense of ridiculousness) clone, the big influence here is probably Wario Ware.
Each stage of the game is short. Like ten seconds or something. In that time, a few enemies will attack you and then it’ll be over. You’ll then have eight seconds to pick an item which will either bestow a weapon or perk on you or will affect the level. The problem is that the descriptions change. Key words will tell you what’s what but in eight seconds, speed-reading it can take some doing. So you might end up with a laser or cannonball or you might shrink. The camera may turn upside down or your controls might flip. One item turns the whole level into a battle against arses (see the pic in the top-right of the review). It’s pretty chaotic (especially if your next level is a bouncy castle or a disco party) but, with practice, it’s easy enough to pick the right things.
This is a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that it actually lets you make progress but the bad part is that it adds a little too much order to an otherwise mad game. If it went full-Wario Ware and really messed with the levels, this could be a thing of wonder. Instead, it’s just a weirdly original take on an old concept. That said, it’s a truly enjoyable game. The bite-sized levels make it all about the shooting and movement and less about memorising patterns and whatever else.
The presentation is all a bit Xbox Live Indie but it works. Well, for a freebie. Local co-op options add a little something to the package too but this is the kind of game where you’ll have seen it all in less than an hour, although beating it will take a fair bit longer as the game gets a little tricky during the second loop (there are three bosses and then three upgraded versions). But there’s not enough here to really get too excited about in the long-term. It’s daft, it’s fun and it’s pretty fresh but is it PS4 quality? Not really. Is it the best shoot ’em up on the system? No. It’s harmless enough though but once April passes, it’ll be hard to recommend picking it up.