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BattleStorm Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . BattleStorm looks like a typical 2D shoot-em-up, but it's keeping a dark secret. Icy Studio's newest action game is marred by gimmicky controls that make every encounter a pain. Couple that with the terrible boss designs and boring levels and this old school shooter ends up being a real mess. Rating: 20%
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  • Review Score:

  • D
Every 2D shoot-em-up needs a good gimmick. R-Type had that glowing orange pod, Ikaruga played with dark and light bullets, and Cho Aniki offered half-naked men. With so many shooters on the market, sometimes that gimmick is all you can do to stand out. But you have to be careful, because a crummy gimmick will send you spiraling into the black hole of obscurity. Sadly, that seems to be fate of BattleStorm, a brand new shooter with a control scheme so frustrating it dares you to keep playing.

At first glance, this looks like any other vertical shoot-em-up. You fly around the screen shooting down alien spaceships and dropping bombs on the tanks and armaments on the ground, not unlike the classic arcade game Xevious. But looks can be deceiving, because this game comes with a deep, dark secret that is nearly a deal breaker.

Instead of easily moving left and right with the D-pad, the ship in BattleStorm requires players to use both analog sticks to complete even the simplest tasks. The right stick turns the ship in all directions, allowing you to quickly rotate the craft to take out swarms of aliens. Pressing up on the left analog stick will move the ship in whatever direction it's facing. This is the Resident Evil of shoot-em-ups.

It's pretty obvious why this control scheme is incompatible with this style of action game. Even in the earliest levels, BattleStorm is a fast-paced bullet hell shooter that requires players to weave through patterns of bullets. That's nearly impossible to do when your spaceship controls like a tank. It makes every stage needlessly difficult, to the point where I had to force myself to keep playing.

Things go from bad to worse the moment you realize how dangerous the ground troops are. It's bad enough that players are stuck fighting the control just to shoot down incoming alien spaceships, but they also have to monitor the ground for homing missiles. Xevious and its many clones were good about using these tanks and boats sparingly, that way it was never overwhelming. But even in the best of circumstances, this is too much to handle.

BattleStorm (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

And then there are the boss fights, which are just as repetitive as the stage designs. Each area has its own type of craft, which you'll run into over and over again. The battles aren't fun and, once again, illustrate why the control scheme is such a poor match for this style of game. There is never a point where this radical change to the gameplay makes any sense.

Normally, I applaud game developers taking a chance on familiar genres, but not every idea is a winner. I'm surprised the developers at Icy Studios didn't realize how frustrating the gameplay was early on in production, adjusting to make the experience more balanced. But apparently that's not what happened, and we're left with a frustrating shoot-em-up brought down by a terrible gimmick.
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