STAFF REVIEW of Shoot 1UP DX (Xbox One)

Monday, December 21, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Shoot 1UP DX Box art I’ve played my fair share of shmups (shoot-em-ups) over the years, and one of my favorite games of all time is one of the best in the genre, so there’s a high bar a game needs to hit to stand out amongst the crowd for me to take notice. Somehow, Mommy’s Best Games has managed to remaster one of their games from about a decade ago and bring it to console, and here we are with Shoot 1UP DX. I actually never even heard of the original, so I went into this completely blind, unsure what to expect. If I’m being completely honest, from the screenshots alone, I simply expected another run of the mill indie shmup, which is fine, but was actually impressed by its main mechanic.

Most shmups have you controlling a singular ship at a time, but that wasn’t good enough for Shoot 1UP DX, as its main hook is that you’re controlling all of your ships at once, up to thirty at a time! More so than simply adding more ships to fire from, you can also expand and contract your fleet, changing your offensive and defensive abilities. It’s a very simple premise but works very well.

Now, there is a semblance of a story within, something about your home world being destroyed and you leading the charge to extract revenge and stop them, but let’s be honest here, you don’t play shmups for their narrative. Even with my favorite shmump of all time, I really don’t care about its narrative; it’s all about the gameplay, and that’s no different here. You’ll be shooting across eight unique stages, filled with near endless enemies and screen filling bosses, choosing paths to take and expanding your fleet. While each run won’t take you long, well under a half hour, there’s some replayability to be had, including online leaderboards to always strive towards.

At certain points you’ll be given the option to take an easier path where the screen orientation doesn’t change and you simply keep shooting upwards to the top of the screen, though if you want to mix things up, you can choose the harder path. This will generally change the orientation of the gameplay for a short while, so instead of shooting upwards, it might get rotated so that you’re shooting to the right, or maybe even in weird angles. It’s a little jarring at first but once you know what to expect you can adjust on the fly quite quickly.

While controlling a fleet of thirty ships would be interesting on its own, Shoot 1UP DX ups the ante even further, allowing you to freely expand and contract your ships. This means you can expand your ships into a large circle, changing their formation and attack patterns. This allows you to fill nearly the whole screen with bullets and even forms a massive laser in the middle of your ships, but also means you’re easier to be hit as you're spread out. Contracting your ships to overlap one another makes you smaller and easier to dodge, concentrating your fire in a single line. This means there’s a lot of balance between trying to be offensive and defensive on the fly.

Each time you get hit you lose one your ships, and when you reach zero left it’s game over. To counter this, collecting any of the floating 1UP’s adds one more ship to your count, to the maximum of thirty. It’s a really simple premise but works quite well and something I can’t really recall in any other shump recently.

The campaign’s eight stages won’t take too long to complete, so there’s another mode to try where you only have one life to see how far you make it and survive. This mode though instead doesn’t allow you to gain any new ships, but instead will upgrade your firepower whenever you grab a 1UP. It’s a much more challenging mode but one that skilled shmup fans will enjoy. Both modes also allow you to alter certain settings like the game speed and more, though some will disable achievements. Even changing the difficulty will make for new enemies and bullet patterns.

If you have a friend to play alongside on the couch, you can also play cooperatively, with each player controlling their own ships. That’s right, you can have up to 60 ships on screen at once in two player mode. This of course causes the already chaotic gameplay to go up a notch, almost being way too much on the screen to discern what’s going on.

While I quite enjoyed Shoot 1UP DX’s gameplay and mechanics, it looks quite dated, probably because of its age. There’s a lot of repeated enemies and not much in terms of animations, but for a smaller game, it does the job. The audio is pretty much as generic as well, but again, the gameplay is actually quite good and allows for a pass.

Shoot 1UP DX took me by surprise, as I really wasn’t expecting much from it initially, but its unique mechanics really made for a great experience. It’s also fairly priced at a couple bucks so even though there isn’t much content wise, there’s just enough replayability with its online leaderboards for those that want to challenge themselves. While it won’t catch the world on fire, it’s a decent shmup none the less.

**Shoot 1UP DX was reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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