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It is nice to come across some of these newer shoot ’em up titles making their way up the ladder, with one being Natsuki Chronicles from developer QUTE and publisher Rising Star Games that takes place in the same universe as their other shooter title Ginga Force, serving as a prequel/interquel. If you’re a fan of these type of games like I am, you’ll find yourself delving deep into this chronicle.
The story follows the life of rookie pilot Natsuki Sugiura, as you guide her in learning the ropes of being a new recruit and getting used to her space fighter and battling enemies. She starts having doubts if she’s doing what’s right after her leaders constantly want her to kill everything in sight and ask questions later, which is a nice spin on the typical mindless shooter story. It’s up to you to find out what’s really going on as you progress through the missions while leveling up and customizing your ship.
That last part is definitely the biggest highlight of this game, as you can customize just about everything on your ship and the gameplay itself. From your movement speed and weapon loadout, to going into deeper options such as enabling bullet trajectory lines and enemy spawn markers for those new to bullet hell shooters, you can easily get lost with just the customization alone.
Once you’ve worked out the settings to your liking, you’ll be blasting baddies with the best of them as your ship comes with a standard attack and a secondary attack that allows you options such as shooting forward and behind you, and other useful firing techniques. As with most shooters, these attacks become more useful as you grab power ups along the way. You’re gonna need them too, as this game is no slouch when it comes to difficulty with bullets and enemies crowding the screen at every turn. Thankfully your ship also features a rechargeable shield that recovers as long as you’re not constantly getting hit.
I had a good time playing this one as it feels like one of those solid shooters from the 90s such as the later entries in the R-Type series or those released by Atlus and Cave. The graphics are simple but clean and colorful, and the upbeat music keeps you into the action as you dodge enemies and their multiple projectiles.
The only flaw that comes to mind is the constant dialogue during the gameplay between Natsuki and other characters interacting with her. Much like Raiden V and the more recent Rigid Force Redux, a lot of the latest shoot ’em ups love pumping in exposition that’s voiced, which comes off feeling as though you’re listening to an audiobook or podcast while playing instead of the standard “radio buddy” in your ear.
To add insult to injury, the audio is in Japanese, so you’ll have to read the text in the upper corner of the screen to have any idea what they’re talking about, as if you’re not distracted enough. Good luck trying to do that while keeping your eyes on the intense action.
There’s also some nice replay value to be had as you can play through the main story mode while leveling and purchasing all sorts of customizable parts for your ship, or take a more streamline approach with the arcade mode that’s basic but fun. There’s also an online leaderboard for those who want to show off their best scores and climb up to the top.
Natsuki Chronicles is a good shoot ’em up for anyone looking for an intense challenge or thanks to loads of customizable options, newcomers can find an easier, streamlined experience as well. This just released on Steam and PS4 this week to go along with the Xbox version that came along last year, so anyone can dive into this action-packed chronicle when ready.