You think I’m joking with this post’s title? I’m not, and you can tell because I’m quoting Sony. This is the official description of Shienryu (aka Gekioh Shooting King), as found on the North American PSN store:
Shienryu one of those great shooters you go to again and again cause its [sic] so much fun to shoot the living piss out of every mech coming at you. If you don’t laugh as you blast the Red Octopus boss in stage 3, then you really should have your humor honed. It’s a game that will surely keep your fingers tapping and your heart racing.
Seriously, how did they let “the living piss” slip through? Was Google Translate playing up that day? Clearly someone noticed it because the description was sanitised for the UK PSN store: Shienryu is merely described as “one of those great shooters you go to again and again cause its [sic] so much fun.” Boring. Who wants to play that? I want to shoot some living piss!
Weird official descriptions of this game aside, Shienryu is a very good shmup and I’m glad to play it, even the PS1 version of this game. Originally Shienryu was released in arcades, but it also had a great Sega Saturn port because the arcade hardware it ran on was virtually identical to the Saturn’s own. Yes, that was a Virtua *insert noun here* joke. Bad jokes (more like non-jokes) aside, the Sega Saturn port is the best way to go.
So with that said, the reason I got the PS1 version is that unlike on Saturn, Shienryu is cheap and readily accessible. The Japan-only Saturn version sells for a minimum of £50 on eBay these days. £50 is not terrible as far as Saturn shmups go – Radiant Silvergun says hello – but I’m not sure Shienryu does enough to distinguish itself from other, less expensive games on the system to justify it. Specifically, I’d recommend games like Soukyugurentai and Layer Section over this one based on cost alone. Especially because Shienryu bears more than a passing resemblance to Layer Section, a similarly high quality game that is more widely available at around a fifth of Shienryu’s price. Of course if you don’t have a Saturn to hand the fact that there are other similar games on that system is largely irrelevant. I’m not as experienced with PS1 shooters, but given that this game is readily available on PSN for a few measly units of currency I’d say it’s worth a look at least.
Apart from the graphical downgrade and a few other lacking features compared to the Saturn port, nothing screams “budget” louder then the fact that on the PS1 version of Shienryu you cannot save. I don’t mean save your progress in the main game or anything – no, you can’t even save your high scores, which is a real shame. Despite this, the game does include several different modes other than the standard arcade mode that spice things up, including a surprisingly beautiful rendition of the game in an LCD graphical style?!
There’s not really a whole lot else to say here. I’m enjoying Shienryu a fair bit but the swear-y press release is probably the most exciting thing about it! (Yes, even more exciting than the Red Octopus on stage 3 – oh, and in case you were wondering, I didn’t laugh.) There’s a bit of strategy about which weapon to use on any given level, and there’s a nice, smooth difficulty curve as each level ramps up the intensity an extra notch. By the end of the game it’s plenty challenging, make no mistake.
If I come off as rather down on this title as whole, it might be because at the same time I’m playing a uniquely ambitious shmup: Gradius V. I’ll get to that in another post soon, with any luck. Until then, reader, keep watching the piss-streaked sky…