After spending some quality time with a preview version of Int13’s new bullet hell shooter Shogun: Rise of the Renegade [Free] last week, we were eager to get our hands on the final version to see how it all came together. And sure enough, earlier this week Shogun quietly snuck into the App Store.

It was interesting that Int13 was departing from their typical augmented reality based games, like ARDefender [Free], and trying their hand at an established and nuanced genre like arcade-style manic shoot ‘em ups, especially with veteran shmup developer Cave basically cornering the market with their stable of high-quality ports. However, Int13 has surprised me with just how right they got Shogun, and while it might fail to totally impress the more discerning bullet hell enthusiast, fans of shmups in general will find a lot of action and fun brimming from the game.

The very first thing that pops out at you about Shogun are its graphics. The environments are done up in 3D and give off a great feeling of depth as you’re scrolling by in your ship. It’s also Retina Display ready, meaning it’s razor sharp. Enemies are your standard alien-type of spacecrafts, and there are some rather interestingly designed mid-boss and end-boss fights that will give you a run for your money in terms of challenge. On the whole, gameplay in Shogun doesn’t divert too far from your typical bullet-hell shooter formula, but it executes the components of that formula extremely well.

However, Shogun does show some more innovative signs in a couple of areas. One is the method in which you change your weapons. Your ship comes with 3 weapon types: spread shot, laser, and homing. Whenever you lift your finger off the screen, the game slows down bullet-time style and a small menu pops up above your ship that lets you choose from the 3 weapon types, as well as trigger a screen-clearing EMP or choose to add small wingman ships for added firepower. It’s nice that the action slows down to allow you to concentrate on what weapon you need to pick, but you can still take damage in this mode so you’ll still need to stay alert.

The other thing in Shogun that I found very interesting is the system for filling and using your shield meter. You have the ability to scrape bullets that pass you by, which basically means getting your ship extremely close to them without actually getting hit. With each consecutive bullet you scrape, you build a multiplier, and this adds to your shield meter above which can go past the 100% full mark. Every time you fill up your life meter completely, it fills one of the 6 reserve tanks above the meter.

Now, these reserve tanks can be used for various things, like setting off the aforementioned EMP blast or adding one or more sets of the satellite helper ships to your own ship (which VASTLY increases your firepower, I might add). Also, when you do get hit by enemy fire, the game will automatically clear the screen of bullets and shield you for a brief moment while giving you a refilled meter, but it will cost you one of your reserves.

The scraping and usage of reserve tanks aren't totally new ideas in the shmup world, but they're done well and add a ton of strategy to how you go about being the most effective in Shogun. It’s in your benefit to scrape as much as possible and always strive to keep your reserves well stocked for particularly challenging sections and boss battles. But, you can’t concentrate too hard on just scraping, as inevitably that will lead you to take damage if you aren’t paying enough attention to killing the enemies as well.

While the graphics are gorgeous and the underlying mechanics are sound, about the only thing I don’t like about Shogun is that it’s pretty short. Featuring just 4 levels to play through, it comes to an end pretty quickly, but it’s a satisfying and challenging ride while it lasts. The pay model is also pretty accommodating, allowing you to download and play through the entire first level for free. The remaining 3 levels are accessible as well, but you can only play them for a brief minute – just long enough to get a taste. Each full level is then unlockable separately for 99¢ each, or $1.99 to unlock them all at once.

As a big fan of Cave’s shooters, I find it hard to really get into most of the other shooters on the App Store. They really did set the bar that high. But Shogun is a game that instantly drew me in with its visuals, and then backed it up with a ton of solid action. It even Universal and has iCade support, to truly complete the arcade experience. As a free download, there’s really no reason not to give Shogun a try for yourself.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

    I might add that we (the int13 team) have almost finished the next update of the game, based on requests from the toucharcade forums and others.

    - Configurable dead zone at the bottom of the screen
    - Alternative control scheme (with permanent buttons)
    - Disabled Vibration setting
    - Audio settings
    - Visible hitbox setting
    - Support for mobile iCade

    More updates will come with new games modes and some graphical updates.

    You can also get more infos about the game score system and global leaderboards here:
    http://www.shogun-mobile.com/ 

  • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

    a great exemple of how shmups don't need to be, ahem, $12 bucks (Taito's ports anyone?).... this looks awesome, now it only needs Game Center achievements!!

    • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

      Shogun fully unlocked cost $1.99

  • http://twitter.com/Mowlthrow Björn

    it would be nice if you can tag your games with "iCade" if they support :) 

  • http://photovoltaik.bandcamp.com/ Ujn Hunter

    Would appreciate a non-freemium version of this without the IAP crap. :

    • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

      Hi Ujn, what kind of version would you like? I don't really understand the hate about IAP, could you explain your feeling?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000107046282 Tom Trusock

        Most gamers like to purchase a game once.  Not continually.  IAP leaves many of us cold.

      • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

        In our case the game is built on the "try before you buy" model, once you tried the game you can purchase it fully, no need to download again the full version. 

      • http://photovoltaik.bandcamp.com/ Ujn Hunter

         Yes, I understand the freemium model... I just don't like it. If you offered a version of the game that was complete for a price I would be interested in buying it... I do not agree with the IAP concept of buying piece by piece.

      • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

        You can get the complete game for a price, but directly from the "lite" version, so no need to download it again. Shogun is not a freemium.

      • http://photovoltaik.bandcamp.com/ Ujn Hunter

        Regardless of what you'd like to call it... my point is that if the game was offered for a price directly from the App Store so that I could pay for the complete game once when I downloaded it without having to buy things from within the game I would be interested in purchasing it. I am not a fan of the whole IAP nonsense. I see where it makes sense for you to release it the way you did... but I as a consumer, I don't like it. Just an opinion that some people have of the IAP business model.

      • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

        What you dislike is the freemium / free-to-play business model, and I can understand that, but this is not what we're doing.

      • http://photovoltaik.bandcamp.com/ Ujn Hunter

        So you're not selling IAP unlock codes? If I download this game from the App Store... it is a complete game without needing to pay for unlocks? The iTunes App Store description seems to say otherwise.

      • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

        Ujn, I think you perfectly understood how Shogun is sold, it's like a lite + paid combined in one app, so you can download it for free, try it, and if you like it then you can purchase it, there is no tricks, it just works and the fact that the billing is done with IAP does not mean the game is a freemium, it's simply an alternative way to buy the same thing. And I think that others developers should do the same instead of using Lite versions of their games.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/rick.lindeman Rick Lindeman

      it's not really freemium is i, just a friendly demo, not IAPs to keep on playing... and even free you get a nice game.. you're mad at the wrong guy here..

    • Anonymous

       i completely disagree.  this is actually the perfect balance:  substantial free demo with option for a REASONABLY PRICED FULL GAME UNLOCK, and option for those who prefer to buy the game piece by piece.  i wish all games with iap had the option for a full game unlock purchase.

    • Anonymous

       

       i completely disagree.  this is actually the
      perfect balance:  substantial free demo with option for a REASONABLY
      PRICED FULL GAME UNLOCK, and option for those who prefer to buy the game piece
      by piece.  i wish all games with iap had the option for a full game unlock
      purchase.

    • Anonymous

       

       i completely disagree.  this is actually the
      perfect balance:  substantial free demo with option for a REASONABLY
      PRICED FULL GAME UNLOCK, and option for those who prefer to buy the game piece
      by piece.  i wish all games with iap had the option for a full game unlock
      purchase.

    • Anonymous

       

       i completely disagree.  this is actually the
      perfect balance:  substantial free demo with option for a REASONABLY
      PRICED FULL GAME UNLOCK, and option for those who prefer to buy the game piece
      by piece.  i wish all games with iap had the option for a full game unlock
      purchase.

    • Anonymous

       

       i completely disagree.  this is actually the
      perfect balance:  substantial free demo with option for a REASONABLY
      PRICED FULL GAME UNLOCK, and option for those who prefer to buy the game piece
      by piece.  i wish all games with iap had the option for a full game unlock
      purchase.

  • http://twitter.com/fabien_basile Fabien Basile

     I think it's a good idea, it always annoys me when you have to download a Lite or Free version to give it a try. At least there, you download, you like, you buy, the price is fair too and the game is great.

  • Anonymous

    My only complaint is another way to change weapons, holding my finger on the screen becomes tedious when you're just staying at one spot. Other than that, this game is amazing, and I love the graze system they put in. (or maybe I'm just a sucker for grazing in general :P)

    • Stéphane Cocquereaumont

      We're adding a second control scheme for the next update, will be uploaded to the App Store on monday, should be available on friday.

  • Daniel Borges

    You don't need to hold on one spot, when the weapon menu pops out, you just click somewhere else than the buttons and it disappears, leaving the ship shooting in one place and the game running at full speed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.lindeman Rick Lindeman

    Bought it directly, i mean bullet hell with icade support is :love: (please cave please?)... not 100% convinced though, even though i really appreciate it, it tries so hard to be a jap bullet hell game  (lets be all elite and say damnaku) somehow it feels a bit fake... just not so natural flowing like the cave games.. i keep trying though..

  • Anonymous

    Int13 just rules the game!!!
    Really nice work guys ! I can feel the true passion of video & arcade games in you title. Boooom!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1170735613 Moon Kim

    Wow, so professional in answering questions (no sarcasm).  Never losing the patience till the end!  Yea, it's not freemium. :p

Shogun: Bullet Hell Shooter Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4