Cute ‘Em Up

HIGH Stages one, two, three, and five.

LOW The fourth stage.

WTF Locking an advertised feature behind a secret location!?

I’m a dog person and dogs are great, but even the best ones can be frustrating at times — like when the dog wakes up at three in the morning and proceeds to puke on the carpet while standing on the hardwood floor. The recent, dog-based shoot ‘em up, ProtoCorgi, has inspired similar mixed feelings of joy and frustration.

ProtoCorgi is a shoot ‘em up that focuses on a C3 class (Cut Cybernetic Corgi) pup, Bullet, on a mission to save its owner from aliens intent on conquering the universe. Players take control of the titular corgi and blast their way through 5 lengthy stages filled with robotic fish, space samurais, and a bevy of other over-the-top android enemies.

The graphics are bright and colorful pixelated cartoons that fit perfectly with the not-so-serious premise of this shoot ‘em up. The art is enhanced further with excellent music that’s fast and upbeat, conveying a Saturday Morning cartoon-like urgency of saving the world.

Thankfully, ProtoCorgi controls smoothly, providing players with a great experience as they control Bullet. Holding the fire button unleashes a steady barrage of lasers and rocket upgrades that are dropped by enemies throughout the campaign. Repeatedly pressing the same button sends out a sonic “BARK!” – powerful, but comes at a price, as this attack is slower.

There are also alternate abilities, and all are unlockable by finding secret sections within each stage – a perplexing inclusion given the game’s advertising. One of the main attacks shown in PR videos is a “spirit” attack – Bullet has a ghost dog that zooms across the screen and punches enemies with an extremely powerful strike. Even though this can be unlocked in the first stage, due to its hidden status I imagine that many gamers will play for hours without unlocking it.

Another annoyance with ProtoCorgi is the fourth stage. The rest of the campaign provides a good challenge without being too frustrating, but thanks to some questionable visual decisions, level four is the equivalent of the dog puking on the carpet while standing on the hardwood floor. The level begins with a background that scrolls vertically with Bullet’s movements, while the foreground action scrolls horizontally. I don’t get motion sickness, but this made me queasy.

Stage four also has quick-dodge sections that preview the upcoming area by blinking the entire stage’s layout. While this warning is needed in a fast-paced flying game, something simpler, like a small, lone arrow, may have helped make it easier on the eyes. With both visual miscues, I could only play this section once per day, as multiple attempts resulted in headaches.

Overall, ProtoCorgi is a good game – it controls well and has style galore, which are both key parts of a good shoot ‘em up. Unfortunately, one level with seriously questionable design decisions keeps this from winning Best of Show.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Kemono Games and published by Ravenscourt. It is currently available on Switch and PC.This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. Less than 30 minutes were spent in the stage creator mode.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains Mild Fantasy Violence. No official description is available, but this one is safe for most younger gamers. This is typical shoot ‘em up gameplay, with not an ounce of bloodshed. Most enemies are humorous looking robotic creatures and blow up when defeated, leaving behind debris or food when they explode.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not offer subtitles. The game’s intro tells the main story, but only through pictures, no voiceover. There are no audio cues needed for play. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls. Controls on PC include keyboard and controller options, both of which are remappable.

Brian Theisen
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