Macross -Shooting Insight- | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Saturday, March 23, 2024

Macross -Shooting Insight- | Review | Switch

Macross -Shooting Insight- has made its way to both physical and digital storefronts across Japan. This “multi-dimensional shooting game” promises a completely new, unique story spanning across multiple Macross anime series. Does developer Kaminari Games deliver? More importantly, is it fun and worth your money? That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about in this review. Let’s get into it. 

Generally speaking, developer Kaminari Games allows players to experience a “multi-dimensional shooting game” in Shooting Insight. Stages offer horizontal and vertical shooting as well as a 360-degree option as well. The stages themselves are made up of three parts, often mixing up the three gameplay styles. A fourth gameplay style is also here a handful of times throughout the game. This puts players up close behind the fighter in GERWALK/Guardian/chicken walker form in a Star Fox-like play style. I really enjoyed the general gameplay here, however, I found the behind-the-shouler Guardian sections to feel a little bit finicky. Given that the camera is in so close, it was sometimes difficult to judge the distance of incoming enemy fire. 
Regardless of perspective, inputs, by and large, remain the same throughout the experience. By default, shooting your primary weapon is done with R, A initiates a roll or dodge, Y launches an assist attack and the right stick is used for lock-on missiles. The assist attack can’t be used indefinitely as there is a gauge at the bottom of the screen that you will need to keep an eye on. The 360-degree levels turn the game, essentially, into a twin stick shooter. Although lock-on missiles are still assigned to the right stick, holding R and moving that stick will allow for shooting in any direction. Control-wise, these were all unique and felt smooth to play. 
Being a shooting game, the stages are of course filled with a variety of enemies as well as bonus items that can be collected. The latter come in the form of satellite “jammers” and ammo crates. Destroying these gives the players a boost in a few different ways. Some of these will open up different buffs for your ship. Additionally, simply taking out enemies and collecting the fragments they leave behind can increase your firepower. Avoiding enemy projectiles and attacks can also increase your score multiplier. Basically, the better play, the more advantages you get in gameplay. 

Multiple levels of difficulty are available in Shooting Insight, so if you’re a grizzled schmup veteran or a scrubby newbie like me, you can make the game as easy or as hard as you like. An option auto-recovery option is also available. This makes the game quit a bit easier and could be a good way to ensure you can see all of the stages that the game has to offer. Normal itself can be quite challenging, and as of right now, the “Very Hard” mode’s online rankings show that nobody has managed to clear the game (on the Switch version). 
There are six pilots/craft to choose from, each representing main characters from their respective place in the Macross series. Oddly enough, the English version will only feature five, but we’ll touch on that a little bit later. Here are all of the pilots available in the Japanese version:
  • Isamu Dyson
  • Gamlin Kizaki
  • Shin Kudō
  • Alto Saotome
  • Hayate Immelman
  • Hikaru Ichijo (aka Rick Hunter)
Each of the pilots and the fighters have different attributes for:
  • HP
  • Attack
  • Speed
  • Lock Range
  • Lock On (number of missiles)
  • Missile Damage
  • Rolling 
As a result, while each fighter does have the same capabilities, the way they handle, attack and take damage are subtly different. The most obvious difference that can be seen before making your selection is the range of the weapon (initiated with R) and the number of lock-on missiles (right stick). This makes it so you have to take on stages and the swarms of enemies differently with each character. Laser attacks that are more spread out or more lock-on missiles make it easier to hit enemies, but the fire-power is generally weaker and vice versa. Gameplay feels pretty balanced across most of the pilots.
The variety of gameplay is enjoyable and easy to grasp. My only complaint is that the game is a little bit busy visually. All of the stages feature moving backgrounds, or backgrounds that sometimes show moving, larger enemy ships and other elements. Add on the pink, glittering filter that turns out when you are synced with a songstress, it’s sometimes a bit difficult to see enemies and incoming projectiles. These effects look great, but come occasionally lead to accidental deaths.

Several different modes are featured in Shooting Insight. Form the main menu, players have access to GamePlay, Gallery, Ranking and Option. Delving into each of these offer more options. Under gameplay, players can try out Story, Arcade, Rival Battle, Boss Rush and Stage Select. Story mode puts players through the game’s eleven stages with different story elements and conversations depending on the pilot you choose. The story being told here is completely new and made specifically for Shooting Insight. While I’m not familiar enough with the source material myself (guilty confession, I’ve only ever watched Robotech back in the day), there seem to be some fun elements of this for fans. Just to note, all of the other gameplay modes outside of Story remain locked until you clear that mode at least once. I can understand this decision for some of the modes, however Arcade should have been an option from the start.
Arcade takes all of the dialogue and character interactions out of Story Mode to offer players the ability to get directly into the action. Gallery is the home to numerous artwork, information and more that you will unlock throughout your playthrough. The sheer number of things to unlock could be a driving factor to keep some coming back to the game as these cannot be obtained in one simple play through. Some are locked to different modes, which encourages players to try out everything the game has to offer.

Rival Battle puts one of our six pilots against rival character spanning across the Macross series on offer. Opponents are unlocked upon clearing the Story Mode with the available characters. These are also very short, as they are essentially boss encounters. These are quite challenging and offer no difficulty options. Battles can be over in less than a minute at times, however, losing or choosing to replay the mission takes players all the way back to the rival select screen. That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it does take a little bit of time for all of the screens to load before you can get back into the action. Given the inevitability of death, a quick restart here would have been a good idea.

Rankings & Replays
I think Boss Rush and Stage Select are pretty self explanatory, however, the Ranking area, believe it or not, needs a little bit of explanation. Of course, this is the place to be if you want to check out the top scores from around the country. Players are able to save not only their high scores after clearing stages/dying in a blaze of glory, but also a replay of how they performed the level. These can be downloaded by other players directly from the Ranking page and viewed in the Gallery. If you didn’t think that was enough, Kaminari Games also added the option to play stages in almost every mode alongside a ghost of these performances. You won’t see any firepower from the ghost, but you can see the path that they took while playing through the stage yourself. 
Would you like to save a replay file? No--Yes
To play a stage with one of these ghosts, you simply have to choose it from amongst your saved replays before entering a stage. Saving replays is a little bit confusing, but basically, if you die (or clear the entire game mode you’re attempting), choosing “Quit” will allow you to choose whether or not you want to save your own replay. 
Leaderboards are not very full as of right now on the Switch version. That either means people are playing the game with the auto-recovery option (which disables the ability to rank in), or not many people bought the game at this point. I’m ranked in the top 20 for a pretty subpar run on Easy mode, for example.

Visuals, Audio & Performance
Macross -Shooting Insight- is a sharp looking game. The presentation and story elements use artwork from their respective shows/movies and fit the overall Macross aesthetic well. The game itself features 3D ships on a scrolling 2D plane. These backgrounds are often filled with a lot of things such as asteroids, larger enemy ships, debris and more. Like I mentioned earlier, the background elements can often be distracting. Aside from some slowdown after finishing off some bosses, the game runs at a very smooth framerate and rarely (if ever) skips a beat in both handheld and on the TV.
The music and audio are definitely strong points of Shooting Insight. Several songs taken straight out of the various anime sare included in the game. These play throughout the levels which I found to be a nice touch. The only thing I found a disappointing was the lack of a fully voiced story mode. Sure, there is some spoken dialogue sprinkled in here and there, but things are mainly silent. Repeated short liners from characters during combat can be a bit grating, though. 

Ongoing Localization & Note on Japanese
Originally, Shooting Insight was going to see a simultaneous worldwide release with both Japanese and English support. After a delay here in Japan, the English release was quietly changed to TBD as the game neared its March 14 Japanese release date. A day before that, France based developer/publisher Red Art Games announced that they would be handling the English release of Shooting Insight outside of Japan. 
Japanese version art with Minmei
English Version art without Minmei
Although the Japanese version of the game features six pilots, the English version will feature only five. Red Art Games hasn’t confirmed this, but it seems rather obvious to me that their version of the game will nix Hikaru Ichijyo, aka Rick Hunter, and Minmei from the game given the complicated relationship with Harmony Gold and Big West. This isn’t just as simple as deleting the characters from the main key art from the game (which was already done on the English website for the game months ago). Both characters play a pretty big role in the Story Mode as they are mixed in with and interact with other characters. At the same time, Red Art’s blog post announcing this says that the English localization will feature “six stories,” despite the fact that the game only features five pilots. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes are made to make this work in the English version. 

As for the Japanese in this version of the game, menu navigation shouldn’t be too hard, but story elements will prove difficult for most if you don’t have a grasp on the language. If you just want to play this as a shooter and don’t care about the story, you’ll be just fine. If you pick up or plan on picking up the Japanese SKU of the game with the hope of playing the game in English later, I would advise against that. Given the likelihood that the release outside Japan will see significant changes (and a different publisher), I would venture to guess that they will not be cross-listed on Switch storefronts in multiple regions. This has happened in the past with other games as well. For example, Japanese releases on Switch of Persona 5, Hyrule Warriors and a handful of other indie titles only feature Japanese language options despite full English localizations being in place.

Macross -Shooting Insight- is a decent shooter that may grab the attention of gamers with it’s multifaceted control options. Of course, the Macross license will be a big draw for others, however, this game might leave fans wishing for something more grandiose. If you’re looking for a series defining game using this license, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If you’re in the market for a fun shooter featuring a license you enjoy, this might be the game for you. 

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