When I first heard about Adult Swim Games’ Rise & Shine, I was pretty excited as I’m a big fan of some of their other titles such as Robot Unicorn Attack 2. Sadly all my excitement left the room as soon as I started playing and ran into the numerous problems with the gameplay mechanics that developer Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team was wrought which I’ll get into my review below. That being said, while the game looks and runs fantastic, even those who enjoy hardcore, difficult titles will want to find their run n’ gun platformer kicks elsewhere.
Things kick off with you taking control of a kid named Rise who appears to be in some sort of war-torn future. As he’s making his way through a demolished mall, he runs into a hero with a sweet living gun named Shine. As the hero gets shot and is dying, he passes Shine over to Rise and also the mission of saving the world from the robotic enemies that are attacking everything. From here this is where things get tricky as Rise can take cover behind walls and obstacles and fire Shine with two types of shots, the standard shots and electric ones that do more damage to tougher enemies. The goal is to switch between the two types of ammo and prioritize which ones to take out first while also taking cover and dodging tons of enemy fire.
Now you’d think this would be pretty fun and simple, right? Then you quickly learn it’s not thanks to the terrible aiming system in place here. I know a lot of people who play shooters (especially first person ones) frown upon lock-on buttons and options, but if a game EVER needed one, it’s this one. The controls for the aiming are way too loose and imprecise for the precision needed to dodge, take cover and fire back at the appropriate enemy you’re trying to target in this 2D side scroller. The best way I can sum it up is if you took the aim system from the original Angry Birds game and tried to use it in a run and gun side shooter with a hundred different things moving around and firing back at you. So if you’re trying to shoot a deployed bomb with a parachute, you’ll more likely hit the parachute which will make the bomb drop and instant kill you rather than being able to hit the bomb itself and live to fight. Couple this with one hit deaths and an annoying reload feature (imagine playing any of the Contra or the Metal Slug series with reloads, nuff said) and you’ve got a recipe for a controller throwing disaster.
There are a few things in place to help you survive, such as being able to dash out of the way, along with some nifty skills you acquire later on such as remote controlled shots and all, but they do little (in most cases nothing) in terms of helping you avoid the countless, cheap deaths you’ll face. Besides its many faults, the game looks and moves fantastic. The hand drawn artwork looks like you’re playing an interactive comic book or graphic novel, which is funny seeing that’s exactly what the cutscenes play out like. I also thought it was funny and cute how they threw in loads of classic video game references and parodies, such as the hero you meet in the beginning that looks like Link from Legend of Zelda crossed with the Gears of War franchise, or a giant boss you meet at the start that nearly fills the screen and has Level 999 over its head. It’s small, humorous details like that which make me want to like the game, but in the end make me feel bad that I can’t.
Unless you’re a masochist that enjoys dying every few seconds on nearly impossible games, you’re not going to get much outside of frustration from Rise & Shine. I really wanted to like and recommend this one thanks to it’s great looking presentation and hilarious pokes at video games and pop culture. But thanks to gameplay mechanics that weren’t thought out well that border on making this unplayable, this is one game that neither rises nor shines for those looking for a fun, 2D side scroller.