With so many games being launched across multiple platforms, some can get overlooked and though Rise and Shine was first released earlier this year, the appeal of the game made me want to get to it, and I finally did. Rise and Shine is one of prettiest 2D games of the year, and is up there with the visual spectacle that is Cuphead. Starring a boy named Rise and the gun, Shine, it is up to you to defend Gamearth from the invading legions of aliens. Unfortunately, beauty can only hold one’s attention for so long, before the other imperfections emerge.
Aside from some poor design choices bogging down a promising title that could have been so much more, the game also comes with a simple plot with little explanation for who the invaders are or your place in this world. Characters fleet in and out with varying degrees of exposition, which all adds up to a mess of storytelling.
As a 2D side-scrolling shooter, the gameplay is similar to classics like Contra and Metal Slug, where players run and gun, avoiding enemies and projectiles filling the screen. The key difference is that, for some godforsaken reason, it uses the twin sticks control scheme more suited to top-down or isometric shooters. It would have been okay if the controls were precise, but that is something Rise and Shine does not achieve. Time and time again, my shots got nowhere due to the poor implementation, and such lack of precision can impact heavily on a shooter.
Not only that, the game also utilises a cover system, much like third-person shooters ala Gears of War. This seems to be unnecessary bloat, and an overzealous attempt by the developers to make their game stand out more. The poor aiming system is made worse by sluggish movement on the ground, which is a definite sin when Rise and Shine tries to venture into bullet hell territory.
The only saving grace is the use of special projectiles like explosive rounds or of the remote-controlled variety, adding a fresh mix into a repetitive experience. The latter contributes to some of the standout moments in the game when you come across fiendishly clever puzzles. Alas, these moments are few and far between.
Rise and Shine also ramps up the difficulty abruptly during the short 2 to 3 hours you will spend finishing the game. This would have been fine, if not for the poor design choices that makes it close to a Sisyphean task.
My huge disappointment stems much from the controls, but also partly because Rise and Shine is an utterly gorgeous game. The hand-drawn visuals are amazing, the animations are great, along with an excellent companion in the soundtrack. There are plenty of homages paid to the video game medium, as there are references to cultural touchstones like Mario, Zelda, and even the divisive Flappy Bird.
Something as beautiful as this surely deserves better.
Rise and Shine should have been a much better experience, a gorgeous visual showcase let down by poor design and one too many references. While it does not cost much, perhaps you will find that your time is worth much more.