Shoot For The Stars

By: Nicholas Catto – After playing hours upon hours of amazing open world games and almost movie-esque narrative driven games, kicking it old school is the way to go. When you’re playing older arcade style games, nothing is better than chasing high score leaderboards. Ghost Blade HD is a high-definition remake of the original game from the Sega Dreamcast. If you’re into “bullet hell” arcade shooters, Ghost Blade HD may be the game for you to pick up!

Stars… Everywhere

In Ghost Blade HD, you choose from one of three ships to pilot and take on the campaign. The story is five levels long and will take you no more than 20 minutes to beat. In the main campaign, your mission is pretty simple, shoot everything in sight and then take down the boss, trying to rack up as high of a score as possible. How you get your score higher is by picking up stars that are left behind after you defeat an enemy. Not only do the enemies themselves turn into stars, but all of their gunfire on screen does as well. This feature adds to the technical standpoint of the game.

Shoot To Win

In all arcade shooters, gameplay is king, and there’s no difference with Ghost Blade HD. When playing through the game, you’ll be dancing around endless waves of enemy fire. When clearing a tough section of a level, you’ll feel pretty awesome about what you just accomplished. One problem was that the tough sections were few and far in between. I found Ghost Blade HD to be extremely easy to defeat, no matter the difficulty. Normally, this wouldn’t be a major detractor, but when your game is 20 minutes long and supposed to be a challenge, it doesn’t leave you very inspired to replay it to try and achieve a higher score. As you fly around, you pick up very bare bones power-ups for your weaponry. These power-ups increase the velocity of your bullet fire. You get these power-ups almost immediately, whether you are starting a new game or new life. I was hoping that dying made you pay a steeper price and have to earn your stronger firepower back. You also come equipped with three bombs per life, which when detonated provides you with a circular blast, clearing enemies out of your path. You can earn more bombs per life by keeping your high score up.

In a bullet hell shooter, most would expect to just simply hold down the fire button to win. Ghost Blade HD mixes up the shooting in the form of their focus fire. Each ship has two different firing modes. One is a straight on focused attack for taking on tougher enemies, and the other is a wider blast, for taking out waves of weaker ones. Interchanging fire modes on the fly was very satisfying and fun. Each of the three ships offers slightly different angles of fire so you can pick whichever one fits your play style better. While mixing up your firing focus and weaving in and out of enemy fire, it is easy to get lost in the mix. At times, I found myself losing track of what was going on while playing, which lead to some cheap deaths. Overall, the shoot and dodge gameplay was pretty fun.

Nostalgic Effects

One place that Ghost Blade HD hits it out of the park is with its effects. It captures the 90’s arcade shooter feel with not only the visuals but the audio as well. When playing through the campaign, it felt like I was at the old arcade cabinet, with quarters waiting to be inserted. These minor details added to my experience while playing.

The Verdict

Ghost Blade HD mostly accomplishes what it sets out to do. It provides a bullet-hell arcade shooter, with leaderboards to chase. The awesome 90’s effects and focus fire gameplay are undermined by a slight lack of difficulty and effective power-up system. While this game isn’t by any means bad, it’s not a must-play title. If you’re a fan of the old Dreamcast title, pick this up for sure. If you aren’t, I would recommend other arcade shooters over Ghost Blade HD.

Our review copy was provided by 2Dream.  We would like to thank them for providing us with this copy so we could provide our readers with a review.

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