Shooting “the living piss” out of mechs in Shienryu (PS1)

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!

Nice.

I always appreciate a two player mode when it comes to shooting the living piss out of mechs.

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.

This boss is cool.

This boss is cool, but it’s no octopus.

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?!

Supposedly this mode in Shienryu is based on

Supposedly this “retro” mode is based on the PocketStation, a Japan-only device a bit like Sega’s VMU which doubles as a portable game device and a PS1 memory card.

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…

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3 comments

  1. moresleepneeded

    I have not heard of this game. It seems interesting that some games released on the Saturn had an arcade feel (like sidescrolling shooters focussing on producing a high score and shooters using a lightgun). How come these games were only released in Japan? What are the different versions of the game? What is supposed to be funny about the Red Octopus boss?
    I can understand how not being able to save gives the game a “budget” feel. I would not expect this sort of game to allow the player to save, as the game seems intended to allow the player to complete the story in one go, how does the saving work in the Saturn version of the game? An example of a game not allowing the player to save is Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb.

    • veryverygaming

      This game was actually released in the U.S. with a different name (though not Europe as far as I know). I think basically shoot ’em ups are just more popular in Japan, always has been, which is why a limited number of them come out in the West. Also when talking about the Saturn specifically, that console was always more popular in Japan than anywhere else so many more games for it came out in Japan. Plus for some bizarre reason Sega designed it primarily for 2D games, which is why it has so many 2D arcade ports on it and why they look better than on the PS1 which was better suited to 3D games. I’m not sure how the saving works on the Saturn game, I’m guessing it saves settings and high scores and not much else, that’s been the case for other shooters I’ve played on Saturn. It definitely feels cheap and lazy on the developer’s part when you can’t save on hardware that would easily allow it. Does the Indiana Jones game use a password system instead of saving?

      • moresleepneeded

        I found Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb to be an enjoyable game ruined by a bad saving system. The game uses an autosave feature with no checkpoints, which basically means the game will only allow the player to load from the beginning of each level. If the player dies during at any point during the level (from close to the beginning or near the end), they will have to start the level from the beginning. During difficult levels, I found I had to repeat an easy beginning many times to progress (which got especially annoying if I failed the beginning and had to wait through a long loading sequence before trying again). Also, the game does not reset the character’s health meter after completing a level. This means that if the player is playing a difficult level and they scrape through the end with only a slither of health, they will start the next level with a tiny piece of health. They will also restart the level with a tiny piece of health if they die or turn the game off and turn it back on. This gives the player a choice at the end of hard levels, start the next level with little health and hope they will be able to heal or commit suicide and hope they will pass the level again with more health.

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