Cave’s latest “bullet hell” shooter is yet another considered study of reflexes, tactics, timing and blistered thumbs. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they might have diversified into hack-and-slash territory either, the “Katana” of the title might reference samurai but these are gun-toting, jet-flying neo samurai; oh and did I mention their magical ability too which sees them flying sans aircraft and unleashing attacks which destroy everything on screen?
Fans of Cave will know exactly what to expect: wanton destruction, hundreds of projectiles on screen and a wealth of strategies at your finger tips as your pursue that precious high score. In fact so in depth is Akai’s system that it takes some kind of degree in “Caveology” to pierce the almost impregnable depths of its point scoring, with players able to transform from vehicle to flying samurai upon gathering enough energy, before gathering yet more orbs to unleash “Katana attacks” which in turn release bonus tokens from downed enemies – still with me?
The fact I’ve yet to even mention the various tactical benefits of attack and defence modes and smart bombs only illustrating my point further, that this is a the newbies to the genre might struggle to find any purchase in.
A lack of stages (only five in total), scant instruction by way of tutorials and a translation of in-game dialogue which is at best functional (and at worst non-existent) perhaps confirms that Akai is aimed more at Cave’s loyal user base than anyone looking to decode their patented formula.
I might also note that visuals really should be of a higher standard and, in their present state, the presence of slow-down during congested scenes is borderline unforgivable. Another release that fans will no doubt clamour for then, but one which might leave any number of debutants scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss is about.