An indie review you say? We don’t usually bust out the big guns on current gen gaming unless it has a strong retrogaming flavour. Thankfully that can be said of Pawarumi, a vertical scrolling shmup that has hints of Ikaruga, Axelay and many other shmups we love. Adrian is the only one of the team who has a Nintendo Switch (although the game is available on multiple platforms) so we let him do the honours… Just kidding, Ade’s obviously the best man for the job regardless!
We love a good shoot-em up here at Arcade Attack towers. My personal favourite games in this particular genre would be the R-Type series, SWIV and Silkworm on the classic Amiga. I will admit though, this is a genre I haven’t spent too much time on recently, well until now! Pawarumi is a top-notch game that has bought back a lot of nostalgic feels but with a few sprinklings of modern features, graphics and awesome music. Oh, and to really make this game stand out, it is not a simple bullet frenzy that some shoot-em ups can be accused of, Pawarumi has a number of clever strategy features…
The game’s story is quite a simple affair, but very well told using classy anime style artwork. You play as Axo, a pilot that would even give Maverick and Ice Man a run for their money! You control a ship called Chukaru, the most powerful vessel in the universe. Your mission is simple; take down the Council. Nope, we aren’t getting revenge on our local council for not taking out the bins out on time. The Council rules the nations with an iron fist and need to be taken down a peg or two.
To aid you in your missions, you (or should that be your ship?) have been enhanced with some of the most powerful weapons ever shown in a video game, all kindly donated to you by the three gods. Luckily for you each weapon is clearly colour coded (more on this later). The first piece of arsenal at your disposal is the Serpent, a weapon that fires multiple green shots in front of you which aptly resembles snakes. The second piece of firepower is the Condor, this blue powerful laser beam would give Lester from Another World a run for this money and can blast through enemies like a knife through butter. Your third weapon is the Jaguar! Yup, you heard me right, you fire out multiple 64-bit consoles at your enemies and dazzle them with utter awe. OK, joking aside, the Jaguar is a fancy pants red homing missile style weapon, that will lock on to your enemies and leave them for dead. And that’s not all! You can unleash your secret weapon. When your ship is fully charged you can use your super attack. The best way to describe this weapon is to imagine a factory that specialises in creating cans of whoop-ass and then detonating said factory with ten tonnes of TNT! It is a lightshow that is incredibly satisfying to watch.
Where this game stands out though is the clever colour matching mechanics, adding a deep layer of strategy to an already classy game. Enemies are typically coloured green, blue or red. How you shoot down these enemies will lead to different results. You can crush your foes, boost your shield or power up your super attack. Shooting enemies that are the same colour as your weapons will boost your shield. If you use your green weapon on red enemies, you will unleash double the damage and if you use green weapons on blue enemies you will charge up your super attack (with a lot more colour variants thrown in!). These different alternatives do take a little getting used to, especially if you have multiple enemies on the screen at once. I highly recommend going through the tutorial section of the game first. Once you do master all the colour-based skills, you do find yourself playing a very clever and original game.
Pawarumi also looks amazing. The clear crisp graphics give the game a modern look and feel, but you still get the impression that a lot of inspiration has come from the classic shoot-em ups of the past. The levels look amazing and are apparently inspired from a pre-Columbian futuristic universe. This is complemented well with the diverse and colourful enemies. The game also features epic boss fights, another key ingredient for any shoot-em up worth its salt. Another big plus is the pumping soundtrack that really fits in well with style of game. Kudos to the game’s composer!
One area that I feel lets the game down was the difficulty and steep learning curve. Now, this could be more of a negative on me, than the game, but I did find it a little too hard. Getting through the levels on easy, proved hard enough and when I tried the normal and hard modes, I was dead quicker than you could spell the word Pawarumi. Throw in the fact you have only one life to pay through each game, and you got yourself a tough challenge!
Overall, Pawarumi is well worth trying out. Especially if you see yourself as quite an able shoot-em up player. The whole game has had a lot of love and care poured into it, and with time it is possible to learn the colour combos, which is essential when playing this title. Yup, it is certainly a game well worth getting your paws on!