Having started life as a Kickstarter project, Wings of Bluestar comes to consoles with the aid of eastasiasoft. The game is from a company that prides itself on the quality of its anime art. And in this Wings of Bluestar review, you’ll learn exactly why.
In the very opening sequence, immediately after choosing your preferred language, the player is treated to a scene that lies somewhere between retro-styled graphics and felt pen coloured anime. It’s an intriguing intro to what is otherwise a fairly run-of-the-mill bullet hell shoot-’em-up affair. There are several gameplay modes to choose from, including Arcade, Story, Tutorial and Boss Rush.
Beginning with Story, there are two characters to choose from. Aya pilots the Bluewing, and is obviously the easy way to play. The young pilot shoots many bullets in a wide ranging attack. Zarak pilots Altair, and is the experienced fighter. He has a constant stream of fire, but occupies far less of the screen space. However, before you get to use either of them, you are introduced to the backstory.
Mankind has finally developed the technology to travel into deep space. Upon doing so, they find a mysterious object. Bringing it home, they discover that it is actually a vault of data left by a highly advanced alien species as their own wars brought them to extinction. Using the AI within this technology, humans made huge leaps in both scientific and social fields, and expanded their colonisation efforts to new planets. What’s more, all civil wars within the human race were now a thing of the past. Yet peace, it seems, can’t last forever.
The AI within this vault became frustrated with the human resistance to using the technology within to create what are essentially cyborgs. Eventually, the AI declared war against the humans. It had secretly built a huge army, revealing that it’s play to conquer the human race had actually been in motion for many years. If you hadn’t guessed just yet, you’re a fighter pilot in the rebellion against the AI.
As stated above, the game is a fairly standard bullet hell shoot-’em-up. You scroll through levels avoiding obstacles and shooting bad guys. Collecting power-ups and facing down bosses. You have a limited number of credits (more can be bought with in-game currency) but in Story mode can continue from the last story beat reached. Arcade mode however, forces a complete restart each time.
One very welcome addition however, is that of Risk Points. These can be awarded automatically or appear as collectable power-ups within levels. However, what generates them is risky behaviour. Fly close to enemy ships or between bullets. Stay in the progressing half of the screen while in combat or ignore the danger warnings that appear until the last second. These actions will generate Risk Points, that can then be spent in the in-game shop. It’s a simple addition that heightens the already tense risk/reward systems in place in bullet hell games.
So as this Wings of Bluestar review attests, the game is well delivered if somewhat typical of its genre. A two-player option exists for the Arcade mode, which is very welcome, however there seems to have been no balancing for the additional player. Even though credits are shared, this does make the game somewhat easier. That being said, it makes Wings of Bluestar a great option for introducing a friend new to bullet hell games. And for that – and the beautiful artwork – alone, Wings of Bluestar is well worth your time.