I’m on the record for saying “hey, some background context can flesh out and add personality to a shmup,” but honestly, the opening story for this game is just kinda nonsense. It doesn’t come across very well in-game either? Like, it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting magic expressed in technological form.

Anyway, Blue Revolver. Blue Revolver is a game made by Stellar Circle, where the notorious pilot hacker Mae fights against the elite Blue Revolver group.

For difficulties, Blue Revolver offers Normal, Hyper and Parallel. While Normal is the easiest mode, it is by no means “easy” (unless you’re a pro at these games, I guess). Parallel mode promises a surprise at the end, which is probably, you know, an extra boss battle. Additionally, the game page also claims that it tailors difficulty on the fly based on your skill level. It’s kinda hard for me to tell how well it works, though, because I’m a pretty middle of the road player that can consistently get to stage 3 but eats shit on any farther levels.

You get your pick between Mae, the apparent villain protagonist, and Val, Blue Revolver member who somehow ends up fighting the same bosses? Yeah, something’s going on with that. You pick how your orbitals act and you can choose a sub-weapon. There’s a nice variety of sub-weapons that differ between the characters; Mae’s default weapon fires lances in front of her while Val’s default has an expanded range but strikes random places like lightning, which may not be useful for enemies that hurt on contact.

Blue Revolver‘s action is standard shmup stuff, with the exception of its main scoring mechanic. When you destroy 8 things in a row, anything you destroy with your sub-weapon gets a huge point multiplier for as long as the combo is active. Because sub-weapons have a limited charge, their use becomes a balancing act of using them conservatively to get the most points and just going ham and tearing through bosses. I think it’s a great scoring mechanic because it’s pretty easy to understand and it encourages sub-weapon use and putting more thought into what kind of sub-weapon you want to equip.

The game’s approach to playability is a bit weird. The main mode lacks continues, even on normal, fully expecting you to try going for a 1CC run, which can be alienating to novices. This is thankfully balanced out by the stage select mode, which essentially lets you practice stages – even letting you start at midbosses or bosses to practice them. Want to know what a break bonus even is? Going into the extras will just show you how to do the specific ones on each level; I mean, you still have to actually do it, but it’s still surprisingly helpful.

You can unlock an actual free play mode that can let you use continues. However, it costs far more than anything else in the game’s store, so you’ll have to be putting a lot of 1CC attempts in and doing a bunch of missions long before you can do so, which feels weird from a playability standpoint. Like for the sake of rookies, I feel that it should be available earlier.

But speaking of the missions, there’s also a mission mode! You get assigned to a level with preset ship selections, tasked to fulfill something with an A+ rank being granted for doing an additional objective. There are some standard things to expect, like reaching a certain score before the end of a level or playing through it without dying. Blue Revolver, however, also experiments a bit with some weirder levels. One mission type has bullets turn invisible when they get close, requiring you to pay extra close attention to their trajectories, while another has a large bullet constantly chasing you, unrelenting and unstoppable. These missions make for a nice change of pace and I was real into them.

Back to unlocks, you can buy different wallpapers and ships, as well as alternate music tracks to listen to. I’m real into the music for the game, it’s great high energy stuff that fits the game’s action. I’m somewhat divided on the alternate tracks, because while I prefer some remixes over stuff in the game, some remixes felt too chill to be a good fit to me.

The best buy in the game for me is stuff for the Experimental Weapon mode. Accessed in extras, Experimental Weapon removes your orbitals and bombs and the score ceiling to get extends is vastly increased. In exchange, your sub-weapon becomes a powerful weapon that refills by itself. It’s a mode where you can cut loose with reasonable drawbacks that I think is really great. My favorite weapon is the one that unleashes a wave of junk, because it is real satisfying to just clear the screen of enemies. It is the weapon of going apeshit.

Blue Revolver is a fun time, if a bit mixed about being welcoming toward novices. My peak enjoyment of Blue Revolver is the Experimental Weapon mode and some of the missions in that Blue Revolver changes things just enough that it feels like a different experience. Even outside of the experimental stuff though, Blue Revolver is a pretty good game that shmup players can definitely get into.

Now, what you’re getting now with Blue Revolver isn’t all you’ll get, because the developers are working on a free content update called Double Action. It’s kinda been in development hell looking at their Twitter (but honestly they should take their time, especially since it’s free), but a video promises that it will be out sometime in 2019.

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