Designed to look, play, and sound like a new original Gameboy game, Spacewing War is a very simple and approachable shooter. The control is incredibly accurate and responsive, the difficulty is never rage-inducing, and the entire presentation is oh-so charming.
Aliens are about to invade Earth and this spacecraft is the only chance humanity has. There is just enough plot, complete with a few minor cutscenes, to carry the experience from beginning to end.
You control the Spacewing, a spaceship that looks like a bird flapping its wings in mid-flight. It might look like a simple and straightforward shmup but there is actually plenty of detail in the gameplay and enemy design. For the most part, the screen auto scrolls from left to right and it is your job to shoot anything that moves, collect some power-ups along the way, and not get trapped against the environment as the screen moves forward. On paper, it might actually sound bland but I highly enjoyed this experience and happily played until I bested the final boss and the credits rolled in about 40 minutes. Enemy types, for the most part, also change from stage to stage to keep gameplay feeling fresh.
Unlike comparable shooters like R-Type or Gradius, the player has access to four types of weapons which can be used at any time. Each weapon is rather different and has varying levels of damage output making some guns more situational than others. The bombs, for example, are great against bosses but pose a threat when used against the common enemies and even yourself. I personally found the fourth option, the spread shot, to be the most practical during the meat of each stage but the boomerangs weren’t bad either. Having a variety of weapons immediately available makes the game much more enjoyable.
Stages are also broken down into bite size chunks so the player feels a constant sense of accomplishment and a checkpoint is never far behind if you happen to fall in battle. The difficulty definitely ramps up with each passing stage, peaking in the final level. This final area also gives the player a unique ability that makes you feel like a powerful badass and really turns gameplay on its head. The boss of the final act also has tons of energy and takes skill to defeat. In my stream embedded here in my article, I managed to complete the game in one sitting (my first time playing it), snagged all the Achievements, and unlocked a few extras once the campaign was completed.
Part of what makes the game so endearing is its simple approach to everything. Visually, it looks like Kirby’s Dreamland, the first Kirby game which was on the original Gameboy, but placed inside the shooter stage of Super Mario Land, Mario’s first Gameboy title. This graphical style is only furthered by the 50 different color palettes that are available, each looking like a Super Gameboy-enabled handheld game. Even the soundtrack is simple and nothing fancy but fits the casual mood of the gameplay.
I guess my only complaint in the presentation comes from the bosses. Their designs are fine but they do not flash or blink when they take damage. At first, I wondered if my shots were doing any harm at all. That is when I realized there is a boss health bar at the bottom of the screen that depletes a bit with each shot. So instead of the typical flashing, the player can just keep an eye on this decreasing number. The final boss is also a literal heart attack and is probably one of the best final boss designs of all time. The sound effect of the spread shot gun also gets a little annoying by the third stage though.
Spacewing War does a lot with a little and is one creative little shooter. With its charming and approachable design, this is one shooter anyone can enjoy. The icing on the cake are the numerous, worthwhile unlockables that become available once the player completes the campaign and snagging all Achievements doesn’t take much effort (like most other EastAsiaSoft titles). This is easily one of the best indie, new Gameboy games I have played… this one just so happens to be on Xbox, Switch, and Playstation consoles.
Also Check Out: Genesis (the new original Gameboy game, not the Sega console)
Better Than: Solar Striker
Don’t Forget About: Gunship
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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