Developer: Neon Deity Games
Publisher: Choice Provisions
Format: PC, PS4 (Reviewed), Vita, Wii U
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Copy obtained via PlayStation Plus
Shutshimi: Seriously Swole is one of the most absurd games I’ve ever played.
You play as a fish with two muscly arms, which is weird enough, but when your underwater home is attacked by dangerous sea life, it’s up to you to use an assortment of weapons and power ups to save the day. Shutshimi both looks and plays like a retro shoot’em up, and it’s quirky characters, abilities, and weapons result in a surprisingly delightful little gem that’s unfortunately bound to go under the radar.
Given as a free title on PlayStation Plus this month (May 2016), this is the first time I’ve ever even heard of Shutshimi. However, as soon as I saw our little muscle-bound fish friend, I knew this was something worth checking out.
As previously mentioned, the story is rather simple.
Given in just a couple lines of dialogue, you’re tasked with saving the sea from an overwhelming onslaught of sea life. There’s no real cutscenes, plot twists, or story/character arcs, but there doesn’t need to be, at least not for a game as purely focused on gameplay as this. Shutshimi is completely focused on squaring you off against a plethora of foes and giving you a fun arsenal of tools to destroy them with.
As a 2D shoot’em up, Shutshimi doesn’t do much to reinvent the genre, but it does deliver a constantly fun (and hilarious) experience. Enemies consist of squids, laser sharks, cats in robotic missile pods, and other assorted crazy animals. The way different enemies move and attack make for a challenging time, but the outlandishness of their appearances keep everything silly, even when dying for the hundredth time. Thankfully, there’s several weapons and upgrades to give you a fighting chance.
You start off with just a basic gun (that looks like it’s shooting water blasts), but in between rounds you can access a shop where you can choose between one of three different upgrades. Some give you weapons, some give you hats which instill special abilities, and some even make the game harder (slower movement, slower fire rate, more enemies, etc.). However, the items don’t tell you exactly what you’re getting, just what type of upgrade it is, so there’s a sense of randomness to it. Some upgrades I found to be incredible helpful (lasers, cannonballs, a fishbowl that acts like a shield), and some made things extremely frustrating (such as increasing the speed of the game, or inverting controls). There’s a ton of fun little cosmetic upgrades as well, with my favorite granting me a Dragon Ball Z style wig and surrounded my fish in flames. Things like this kept me constantly coming back for more.
After every 5 waves of fighting enemies, you’ll enter a boss fight.
You only have a couple seconds to beat them, and if you don’t manage to deplete their health bar they’ll return in 5 more stages, with their remaining health. Bosses are obviously harder than normal enemies, have attack patterns that need to be memorized, and can be a royal pain in the ass depending on which upgrades you’re stuck with. There’s technically only three bosses, but you later fight advanced versions of them, with more health and slightly altered attacks. While rewarding to beat, these fights become extremely frustrating. One boss in particular (a kraken), forces you to swim between his tentacles while avoiding several projectiles that fill up practically the entire screen. Some upgrades make the fights significantly easier (and one boss has an exploit where you essentially beat him without putting yourself in any danger), but they’re mostly just frustrating.
If you want to make the game a little more manageable, you can play co-op with up to four people. I’m not sure if the co-op works online, but my brothers and I played it on the same screen for about an hour or so, all while having a blast. Each player chooses a different color fish, and each fish has different “stats”, all though they’re purely for laughs with things like “taste in music” and “odor”. Regardless, it’s just as fun and chaotic with friends as by yourself.
What can I say about Shutshimi? It’s a fun, quirky, little game full of challenge, laughs, and frustration. Its weapons and upgrades are fun to discover, and the different types of enemies are surprising and entertaining. Unfortunately, the boss fights can border on insane and cheap, but the inclusion of co-op makes the challenge a little more forgiving. If for nothing else than its sheer absurdity and sense of humor, Shutshimi is worth playing. And if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you can get the game for free this month (May 2016)*.
– Zack Burrows
*This is an older review from my previous blog. Shutshimi is no longer available through PlayStation Plus, unless you claimed it during the month of May 2016.