Rise & Shine is set in a world called Gamearth that, for no obvious reason (which even your character alludes to), is being invaded by alien enemies called Space Grunts (sorry but if you were expecting a waking up simulator game then you may as well stop reading now). Your character is a boy called Rise who finds himself in the middle of this war and the storyline as you can guess is very simple – save the world. Very quickly it is clear that it doesn’t take itself too seriously which is rather refreshing.
Rise & Shine’s setting provides ample opportunity for witty references and funny jokes. It makes cheeky references to a variety of games such as Plants vs Zombies, Space Invaders, Mario and Zelda, with characters very similar making appearances. If you have played the games the characters are from then you’d notice. This is most notably displayed by the legendary warrior character, who is obviously Link and who gives you your gun, Shine. Yet there are probably ones that could pass you by. Other ironic and obvious jokes are littered throughout such as characters discussing their proximity to barrels which when shot explode (cheap, but funny).
The gameplay is fairly simple and has a few clever aspects which get you thinking. Shooting is performed using one analogue stick in a simple aim and fire fashion. You are able to dodge bullets using the movements your character has but are also able to crouch behind objects. These usually tend to be available in fights where you will need it – it is virtually impossible to avoid all enemy projectiles at times with a screen filled with them from a number of enemies.
This unfortunately somewhat results in a sort of button bashing control system in order to dive out the way of bullets and then fire your entire magazine at the enemies and their shots at you in order to block/destroy them (my trigger finger started aching at one point). Trying to be accurate and target each enemy in this way becomes slightly redundant as the best way to kill enemies is just by pelting bullets back at them. An exception is the guided bullet ability that Shine has. This provides a more welcome precision to Rise & Shine which adds in the certain skill element – whether having to guide a bullet to hit an enemy before they hit you, or having to guide bullets through puzzles in order to progress through doors and the like.
The strongest attribute in this game though has to be its graphics, which could almost be artwork. Visually it is fantastic to look at and has a nice comic book/anime style with its cut-scenes in which you follow the storyline and dialogue between characters. It also has a strong arcade style soundtrack to go with it. Unfortunately however, it doesn’t have the storyline to match. It seems to set up greater things than what is actually delivered and it’s just too simple. We’re told of areas such as the palace, RPG City and NPC Island which sound exciting but seem to pass you by without any real substance or depth. To top it off, the ending really sprang up on me when I thought I hadn’t even delved that far.
Unfortunately it also seems to over complicate itself in trying to be like a simple arcade style game. The character’s ability selection seem somewhat to muddle the controls. Having to flick between weapon types to get the desired method of fire, whilst simultaneously dodging bullets and jumping, causes some frustration when in the middle of a hectic fight. In addition, the frequency at which I seemed to switch to the guided bullets by accident, resulting in being pelted by tens of bullets at once, or switching to a grenade launcher and almost blowing myself up, meant I died a lot due to myself. Dying however, is something that the designers hoped that you would do a lot. As without it, I think it’s probably possible to complete in under an hour.
Overall I think that the concept of Rise & Shine is great, except the execution is not quite there. As an old style retro game which is clearly harking back to early console and arcade games, it makes those who have played those game enjoy the references, yet, it feels as though it is aimed at a younger generation to whom these references might easily miss despite apparently being a 17+. In truth, if the game was longer then it might be more enjoyable, yet it is far too short. I only seemed to get the hang of it by the end of the game and what felt like it should have been the end of level one.