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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

Review: Ginga Force

By: Roberto Nieves

Publisher: Rising Star Games

Developer: Qute Corporation

Available on: PC (Steam), Playstation 4

Even in the future, there are criminals and evil-doers afoot. Drugs, extortion, hacking, it all still exists in the future. Crime doesn't pay, and when crime begins to threaten the colonized worlds, it's up to Alex and Margaret in their specialized police interceptor to take to the skies and bring a criminal empire down. From Rising Star Games and Qute Corporation comes the interstellar spaceship short, Ginga Force. Featured at PAX EAST in March 2020, Ginga Force is an exciting spaceship shooter with great action and options that make it a great entry for casual gamers.

Ginga Force puts you in charge of a special police interceptor starship. The goal is to complete each mission by blasting away at the waves upon waves the enemy throws at you. Ginga Force is a spaceship shooter, and as such, the combat is straightforward. Players must blast enemies, defeat bosses, and stay alive to rack up a high score. There are many spaceship shooters on Steam and PlayStation Store, but Ginga Force separates itself with its unique gameplay mechanics, upgradeable ships, and accessibility.

Ginga Force contains a single-player campaign. Players are encouraged to begin the campaign on easy, then pursue the additional difficulties when they feel ready. Between levels, the ship can be upgraded with new weapon types, engines, and even a new paint job. Ginga Force gives players various weapons to choose from, from traditional machine-gun style laser shots to beams, cannons, and missiles. Players can choose a special weapon that can either be offensive or defensive, depending on their choice.

Ginga Force can be challenging, but for newcomers playing on easy, it isn't impossible. If players die, they receive a game over, but the credits used to acquire new weapons carry over. Additionally, an extra life is added, keeping the experience challenging and exciting, but neither impossible nor pointless, for those that yearn for a challenge. In fact, Ginga Force encourages players to keep trying and get the highest possible rank, which is required for completionists looking to earn all the achievements. Spaceship shooters are notorious for their difficulties. Seeing Ginga Force offer a competitive yet balanced challenge is greatly appreciated for players who wish to play a spaceship shooter and are new to the genre.

Ginga Force features a remarkable presentation that is both nostalgic and modern. Ginga Force wears its inspirations on its sleeve and is reminiscent of spaceship shooters' features on the Sega Saturna and the Sega Dreamcast. Visually, Ginga Force is fast and sharp, filled with color and a diversity of levels. Players will fight in space, through water-logged cities, futuristic highways, deep forests, and so on. Each level feels distinct, which is important as each level has small touches that make each stage distinct from the next.

The gameplay for Ginga Force is what one would expect for a spaceship shooter. Players dodge, shoot, and ultimately survive. Each stage is filled with flying ships, all aiming at the player and hoping to destroy the player by every means possible. The screen fills with laser fire and bullets as players evade swarms. Fortunately, players have three weapon systems. The primary shot allows for players to concentrate direct fire. The second shot, which contains more of an artillery shot, compliments the primary shot. Players also have a special weapon that can be used, such as a shield or special offensive tool that gives players an edge in the game’s toughest battles. Occasionally, in each stage, the level will morph or shift, requiring quick action of the players. One level has players dodge incoming traffic to avoid a collision. Ginga Force plays around with perspective, and at some points, almost plays from behind the ship, keeping the experience interesting. Finally, Ginga Force has a solid story told, and the art assets, which are clearly inspired by older space anime shows from the 90’s era of anime, are interesting and distinct. Regrettably, it brings to the forefront one of the bigger faults of Ginga Force, at least for someone that isn’t versed in Japanese.

During each level of Ginga Force, a story unfolds, with the characters speaking over the radio, communicating the events of the level. Ginga Force does feature English subtitles, but players cannot focus on the story given the chaotic nature of the gameplay. It felt like more of a distraction, and as someone that liked the premise, it can feel disappointing not getting the full story during combat. There are cutscenes at the beginning and end of the levels so the player can get a grasp of what is going on. For anyone fluent in Japanese, this flaw will likely be no problem. However, the focus of Ginga Force is the gameplay, and the game succeeds in that manner.

Playing Ginga Force is exhilarating, fun, and enjoyable in all the right places. Even moments of difficulty, especially with the game’s multitude of bosses, still offer plenty of enjoyment to encourage continuous play. The presentation is nostalgic for the player that grew up on spaceship shooter but excitingly different for those that are tired of grey, dystopic shooters.

Ginga Force is a thrilling experience. It’s quick and action-packed, and while it may get a bit chaotic with its story, it’s a fantastic entry point for players new to spaceship shooters and players that are ready to dodge bullets and dish out punishment for the 100th time. Ginga Force is an excellent shmup and great action game.

Ginga Force was reviewed thanks to a key generously supplied to Stack Up by Thunderful Games Publishing.

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