Review: Mamorukun Curse will make you do exactly that: curse
There's a clear line that separates the familiar shoot 'em up genre from titles like Mamorukun Curse. The most obvious thing to understand is that this is very much a brutally tough Japanese bullet hell shooter designed specifically to cause anger, frustration, and possibly madness. Mamorukun Curse is also not very good, and it's easy to see that, while this game certainly has an audience, those folks are probably better off playing something else.
Right from the get-go you're presented with three different game modes. Story Mode takes you through five different levels, putting you in the shoes of five protagonists. The story here is absolute gibberish, and it's so forgettable that you can get along just fine skipping the dialogue entirely. The characters don't even deliver any funny lines, and it's more annoying than anything having to read as they talk crap to one another.
The other two modes in Mamorukun Curse are Arcade and Netherworld Adventures. Neither of these changes things up substantially enough to make you feel like you're engaging in wholly different modes. Instead, all you get are altered versions of the five levels found in Story Mode. If you're a leaderboard lover, you may get some enjoyment out of these extra modes, but if all you want is to play through the main story, or if you tire of this shoot 'em up rather rapidly like I did, Arcade and Netherworld Adventures hardly make for compelling content.
If all of the things I mentioned above weren't enough, Mamorukun Curse is utterly boring in the way it plays. Sure, it's challenging, but there's hardly any substance to its difficulty. This is another one of those games where enemies rain down bullets as you hope to avoid getting hit while delivering offense of your own. The crux of the shooting is so formulaic that it loses its appeal almost immediately. It's blatantly shallow and unforgivably monotonous.
One of the things I actually enjoyed about the disappointingly annoying shooting gameplay in Mamorukun Curse was the curse shot. By performing this attack, which comes in unlimited quantities but has a cooldown time, you can do one of two things. You can use them on your enemies, eliminating their existing spray of bullets, slowing them down, and weakening their attack patterns. You can also place a curse shot right in front of you and step into it to enhance your shots. It's actually pretty cool unleashing a massive spray of bullets at your foes, and it comes in handy in high-pressure situations, which there are a lot of in these types of games.
Another thing I can praise about Mamorukun Curse is the differences between the characters. Each protagonist has a different attack pattern, and using a curse shot on himself or herself will offer drastically varied powered up shots. It's definitely cool that not every character plays exactly the same, though you'll quickly learn which characters are duds, something that proved almost fatalistic for me during Story Mode. Seriously, that dude with the cigarette kind of blows.
For a game that's supposed to boast candy-colored charm, Mamorukun Curse is undoubtedly bland as far as its graphical presentation is concerned. Sure, the visuals are ridiculously colorful, and hell, the main collectible is candy, but that doesn't take away the fact that the game just looks ugly and boring. The story sequences are no better, relying on stills of the characters with smug/confused/angry looks on their generic anime-esque faces.
The sound design is equally uninteresting, consisting of no more than a handful of lame theme songs. Then there are the appropriate yet still numbingly obnoxious yells of moe girls. I mean, sure, it makes sense that those vocal noises are there, but there's nothing cute or funny about them.
It should be noted that the North American release of Mamorukun Curse includes all of the original content of the Japanese version, as well as DLC. This extra content comes in the form of alternate costumes, two additional Netherworld Adventures levels, and two new playable characters. Even then, I can't find any reason to consider the $20 asking price remotely justifiable or fair. Yes, you have different modes, leaderboards, and included DLC, but that's still about $15 more than this game should cost.
I understand that there's a niche market for games like Mamorukun Curse. This specific brand of Japanese shoot 'em ups is equal parts arcade-like and challenging as all hell, and for folks who dig this sort of thing, this particular game may deliver some level of enjoyment. That said, I can't help but feel that there are better offerings out there. As it stands, Mamorukun Curse is serviceable at best, but anyone who isn't a fan of the genre and doesn't enjoy sadistic, masochistic exercises in frustration should steer clear of this unsavory title. Just play Sine Mora instead. Sure, that game's a horizontal bullet hell shooter and not a vertical shooter like this one, but it's actually good.
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