Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ghost Blade HD (Xbox One) Review

Ghost Blade HD is another bullet hell shmup on home consoles, and I was happy to get my hands on a review code for the game.

There are three different ships, each piloted by a different lady, and each with different shot patterns.  You get the basic shot, which covers more area (some much more than others), but isn't very strong.  Next is a focus shot, which is skinnier than your ship, but packs a mean punch.  Finally, all three ships get a limited bomb attack.  The bomb is the same for all three ladies, and on the whole, the bombs are underwhelming.  They hit an area in front of your ship.  It doesn't even effect the whole screen.  It's not too powerful on bosses, either.  It does make you invincible for a few seconds, so it does have a use, but could be better.

The game has five stages, and three different difficulties.  Easy was nice because there are fewer bullets, but it has auto-bomb.  I'm not a fan of that.  Yes, it makes the game easier, but it also doesn't help you learn timing the bomb for maximum benefit.  There is a lot of stuff going on on the screen at once, which can make it feel a little cluttered, not to mention confusing.  There was an option to turn the background down, so I tried that and it does help a little.  Still, there are several different bullet types and colors flying around with other things, and it can be hard to differentiate the threats from the non-threats quickly.  Practicing does help, though.

Another thing that took some getting used to was the extra point stars.  When you kill some enemies, their shots will turn into extra point stars, which then fly toward you (auto collect).  It took me a bit to get used to that.  Granted, it's nice, but at first it's scary.  You are barely dodging some bullets when all of a sudden, they change their look and zoom toward you.  My initial reaction was a fraction of a second of panic.  Once I had a better grasp of when it would happen (since it's not all enemies, all bullets, or all of the same color/type), it was fine.

Besides the normal modes, Ghost Blade HD has the requisite Score Attack and Practice modes.  Score Attack is nice in that you have infinite lives...although that won't really help you get a high score.  It also has a set stage that has a different enemy configuration from any other.  Practice will let you, well, practice any stage or boss that you have previously encountered.  You can set the number of lives and bombs, too.  I like it for practicing the further out stages and bosses, since that's where I ran into the most trouble.

Ghost Blade HD doesn't do anything new for the genre, but it doesn't have to.  It's a solid, fun, and quick bullet hell game that I would definitely recommend to fans of the genre.

The Good:
Solid and fun shmup action.

The Bad:
The screen can get very busy and hard to make out threats.

The SaHD:
At first, I thought concentrating on the game would make me do better.  Eventually my mind wandered to other things, and that's when I started doing really well.

(Review code for Ghost Blade HD was provided by the publisher)

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