Respectable Resistance To Robotic Revolution

HIGH Great multi-phase boss battles.

LOW The combination health/continue system.

WTF This alternate 19th century is extremely advanced.

As a teenager, I spent many late evenings plunging coins into cabinets at my local arcade. Two of my go-to’s were 1942 and Raiden – I love shoot’em ups and these ate more quarters than I can count. So, I was excited to play AngerForce: Reloaded, an homage to ‘90s vertical shmups.

AngerForce: Reloaded takes place during the robotic rebellion of an alternate 19th century, so players choose one of four characters to go out and quell this uprising. Each character has a slightly different motivation, like avenging the death of their father or demonstrating that they’re one of the ‘good’ robots. The stories are often a little cheesy, but it’s a shmup, so less-than-stellar narratives can be forgiven.

Movement in AngerForce is smooth as silk. Controls are tight and hitboxes are forgiving. There’s a slow-down and speed-up button, but the difference between these two and the regular movement speed seemed negligible at best. It’s a neat concept, but not fully-realized.

The four characters have slightly different health and weapon stats – the less health, the more powerful the attacks. However, I don’t think the sacrifice in health provides a commensurate increase in firepower.

Besides standard gunfire, each character has two special attacks, like a floating proximity mine or laser rocket, and a powerful bomb attack. Characters need energy charges to fire their secondary weapons, so they can’t be used nonstop, but the energy bar is quickly filled by defeating enemies. Bombs are harder to gain so must be used more sparingly, but provide a significantly bigger damage payout when used.

AngerForce: Reloaded has a total of three difficulty settings. The easiest only has three stages to beat and the bullets are easy to dodge. As the difficulty increases, previous stages repeat but more are added, each filled with more bullets. By the time players reach Veteran difficulty, some feelings of redundancy have set in, but there are a total of seven bullet-filled areas to conquer.

In true shmup fashion, every stage (regardless of difficulty) has a multi-phase robotic boss guarding the end, and they’re the highlight of AngerForce. Every one has multiple attack patterns filling the screen with bullets and launches unique, hard-to-avoid attacks. However, the fights always offer a path to victory, and even when death occurs, it doesn’t feel cheap or impossible to overcome.

While most of the game is a commendable shmup, there is one major complaint with AngerForce: Reloaded – the health and continue system.

Health is extremely limited with only two health drops per level, right before the boss. There’s an option between stages to buy two health bars (currency is picked up during each stage, though I’m unsure how) but beyond the pick-ups and between-level purchases, the health meter doesn’t replenish at all — losing health bars during a boss fight puts the player at an immediate disadvantage when starting the next level.

The same currency that purchases health is also used if a player dies and wishes to continue, and these continues increase in price. What costs 9 points in one stage, costs 15 points in the next level, then 24 points in the stage after that. The further the player gets into the game, the harder it gets to keep progressing. Death in later levels meant only one continue since it becomes difficult to pick up sufficient currency after a single death.

Each of these systems by themselves would probably feel manageable, but by combining the currency for health and continuing, AngerForce gives little room for error and ultimately becomes frustrating for the wrong reasons.

AngerForce: Reloaded is a decent shooter that controls well and offers some fantastic boss battles, but the problematic health/continue system will probably limit its appeal to only the most hardcore shmup fans.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Screambox Studios and published by Indienova. It is currently available on Nintendo Switch, PS4 Xbox One, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed on Normal mode, but was not completed at the highest difficulty option. Zero hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. This is standard shmup fare – parents can expect plenty of screens full of bullets and numerous explosions. The playable female character is depicted in slightly revealing clothing, and also has ridiculous jiggling physics, but this is only seen on the character select screen.

Colorblind Modes: There no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game is fully subtitled, but text size is not adjustable. The story includes a few captions for sound effects, but not all – however, these sound effects do not impact gameplay, there are no necessary sound cues.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

Brian Theisen
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4 years ago

Does the game support Tate mode (vertical screen mode), and if so, how well does it work? The Switch is such a great platform for vertical shooters, and it already has a lot of games compatible with peripherals like the Flip Grip, so I like to see reviews address this issue.