Adult Swim are well known for their unique brand of humour and over the years they’ve become more prominent in the games industry, Monster’s Ate My Condo is a firm favorite of mine, but there’s not been as much choice on consoles.
Rise & Shine follows the story of a young boy called Rise, who’s strolling through the mall as Gamearth is mid-destruction at the hands of the mighty space grunts. The Legendary Warrior might be down, but it’s the gift of a large gun called Shine that’s going to keep Rise alive.
Firstly Shine isn’t your average weapon, it chats to Rise and helps to narrate goings on, as well as explain about pick-ups, power-ups and enemies. The first 5 minutes do a great job of introducing you to the game mechanics with some gentle hand-holding that doesn’t feel like you’re being dragged off your feet. Sure enough you will die and quite a lot too, but Shine’s power to allow you to respawn keeps you moving forward with generously placed checkpoints. These separate a large collection of mini-battles that still feel fluent and integrated into the side scrolling nature.
Rise soon discovers that, in accepting Shine, he has built a bond with the Guides, who will control him. Now the poor kid is stuck with the task of saving the earth, and sure enough there’s an ultimate weapon which might just save Gamearth, and Shine just so happens to be the key. So Rise and Shine must venture forth to find the king and locate the Ultimate Weapon.
It’s quite difficult to identify an exact genre, as what originally looks like a twin stick shooter soon starts to feel like a side-scrolling shooter with evade and destroy gameplay. This is important for taking down even some of the simpler enemies, but soon enough you come to rely on the cover mechanic mixed with the special abilities, such as the homing bullets and electrical shot.
Every trick will be required as you’re regularly faced with locked doors that need to be opened. Rather than strolling around looking for a key, firing a homing shot through a tunnel maze seems to be an effective way of progressing, and this soon becomes an integral part of the game; as does using the small double jump to evade missiles, and then there’s the cover mechanics which work incredibly well for a 2D scroller.
The controls are fairly straight forward: the analogue sticks control movement and aiming, whilst the Left and Right triggers bring up your weapon and shoot. The face buttons prove just as important with A jumping, X reloading and B dropping behind cover. As you learn very early on, cover is an important part of combat. When near an adequate piece of cover you can tap B to drop behind it and while there you can’t be hit by incoming shots. The decision to force players to hold LT to pull up Shine really pays off here, as when behind cover you’ll pop-out ready to shoot and safely drop back behind cover as the trigger is released. Without this technique you won’t survive very long, but it feels smooth and fluent when you get used to it.
This fluency continues throughout both with the control and movement, sadly the lack of much voice acting, and the comic-like cut-scenes don’t quite provide the same level of immersion. However it’s all well written, and the sharp, bright and vibrant art direction means it’s a pretty good-looking game.
Graphically it’s all very well done: crisp, sharp details and well drawn textures depict a variety of locations ranging from urban areas to underground caverns. There’s some good clear audio with background music that is well made and obvious enough without being distracting. Sadly there’s little to no in-game speech or narration meaning you’re left to read blocks of text which does take a little from the immersion of the otherwise well produced atmosphere.
Sure there’s a few blocky textures, but these are intentional inside 8-bit city, and contrast perfectly with the modern-day, sharp and gorgeous graphics of the surroundings. You’ll also notice plenty of references to other games of the 8-bit era as Rise and Shine does a fantastic job of showcasing how games used to be done. You’ll die, you’ll die a lot, but you’ll feel like a hero every time you complete a task that initially feels impossible.
There’s a very clear charm to gameplay in Rise and Shine. It might not last long enough for many; some will stroll through in a number of hours, while others might be looking at 4-5 hours, especially if you take your time to explore and find all of the extra shot chests which give you an extra bullet in your magazine permanently.
Adult Swim and the Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team have done a pretty good job throughout, but at times it does feel a little repetitive, so it’s probably best things don’t drag on too much. It’s fair to say it’s a fun and unique experience, but likewise, not something you would return to time and time again once you’ve completed the game. There’s no multiplayer, leaderboards or stat tracking so you’re reliant on a simple scene select to provide further enjoyment after the initial story.