REVIEW: Grand Brix Shooter

Sep
15

REVIEW: Grand Brix Shooter

Good Brix Shooter

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player, Local Co-op
Genre: Action, Shoot ’em up
Developer: Intragames Co.,Ltd.
Publisher: Intragames Co.,Ltd.
Release Date: Aug 29, 2019

The last shoot ’em up game I played was Rival MegaGun. It is a good game with a unique premise of focusing on the player versus player aspect. The game didn’t fit right in the traditional shump mold as it is its own thing and that’s great. However it did leave me wanting a more traditional experience. Enter Grand Brix Shooter, a solid side-scroller shoot ’em up with interesting power-ups mechanic, that will keep me entertained for some time.

Gameplay

Grand Brix Shooter is a bullet-hell game, a sub-genre of shoot ’em up genre. That is to say, it plays like a regular one except that you will also have to navigate your way through a mind-numbing amount of bullets flying your way. In both arcade and challenge mode, the game is available in linear stages that are filled with enemies and often with a mid-boss and, of course, a stage boss. Assuming you can survive the onslaught of projectiles with ease, the stage flow is going to be fairly quick up until the bosses who will have multiple phases with different attack patterns. Grand Brix Shooter is a mostly single-player experience but it also offers the option to simultaneously play with a friend offline in Challenge mode.

A typical scene in a bullet hell game.

Fusion System

You start the game with a simple pea-shooter spacecraft that can be upgraded vias power-ups as is the tradition. What’s a bit different is the way they are implemented by Intragames. Instead of just moving over these power-ups dropped from the cargo unit, a button will also need to be pressed for your unit to fuse with it. This whole process is dubbed “fusion” as your small gunship docks with these upgrades which aesthetically are either external mecha or bigger spaceship armors. There is a decent amount of power-ups with their own attack patterns ranging from spread shots to auto satellite attacks to reflecting shield. More can be unlocked once certain conditions are fulfilled. Functionality-wise fusions work as normal power-ups for the most part save for two things: fusing with any new upgrades will refresh your life bar and each of the upgrades have three levels. Because there are no life pickups, this creates an interesting situation in which you have to decide if you want to swap out the current upgrade. Do you want to keep the old preferred maxed out power-up at low life or do you want to get a health refill at the cost of having to start fresh?

To switch or not to switch, that is the question.

The level system for the upgrades also does a fine job of making the players feel empowered. At level 3, you will be able to output so much firepower that any enemies less than mid-bosses will disintegrate in a matter of seconds. There is also a super mode which can be reached by maxing out the experience bar while having a level 3 power-up. Signified by a golden aura, your attacks will be further enhanced for a limited time. If you are able to survive in Grand Brix Shooter, you will be rewarded for your effort.

All the firepower!

Gripes

The 3d assets are on the simple side, which I do not inherently have a problem with. What I do have an issue with is how they are in motion. The way most enemies are animated is quite bareboned. The most you will see is maybe they will rotate a bit while flying around. Some bosses and mid-bosses also suffer from the same issue. I can let the grunts slide but I cannot for the others. The bosses are supposed to be a highlight for this kind of game. Seeing them just floating around with bullets appearing with no animations from the 3d models to accommodate them can feel lazy. For example, there is a boss with miniguns attached and is the point where one of the bullets-based attacks originate from. The machineguns don’t rotate when this happens. If I recall correctly, this boss is not animated at all except for floating from point A to point B over and over. I actually cannot tell if this is intentional to keep in-line with the simplistic models or not. Whatever the case, this is not less is more kind of situation: I expected more.

Bombs behave differently depending on the power-up. Shown above is the level 3 bomb while using Savior (reflect shield) upgrade.

There is also a major disconnection between the story and gameplay. It feels as if the cutscenes which are presented in a comic book panels style are from a completely different game as the tone and style are vastly different. Not to mention that the story seems to almost have nothing to do with what is happening in a stage. I personally feel that it would have done the game a favor to abandon the story altogether. Thankfully, the developer has added the option to turn this off in arcade mode.

One of the arcade story cutscenes.

Final Verdict

Grand Brix Shooter is a good shoot’em up bullet-hell game all around. It sticks mostly to the formula that works while mixing things up a bit on power-ups with the fusion mechanic. The minimalistic models, animations, and incoherent story may not rock your boat but the gameplay makes up for it. If you crave for some good bullet hell action challenges and don’t mind the little details unrelated to gameplay, Grand Brix Shooter will fit that bill just right.

About Hovermask

Asian dude/Mecha enthusiast/Video games hobbyist/Anime+manga fan Follow me @hovermask. for updates on reviews and/or @HovermaskR for art and NSFW stuffs.

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