Shensetta – Air RPG is an retro style 8-bit 2D side scrolling adventure. You play as an exterminator sent to clear out enemies that have infested an area. That’s about as far as the story goes. In terms of being a role playing game, its strictly relegated to an experience and upgrade system. This is a game about shooting enemies, exploration and discovery. There’s always something preventing that next step until you discover a new weapon or item to progress.
The art style it fits in with the NES era right down to its chip tune music. While the music is good, fun and upbeat, it really kills any sort of atmosphere that could be of exploring an underground labyrinth. The lack of detailed environments helps to kill the atmosphere as well. There’s no detail to anything, just bright blocks of colors with bubbles all around them. Less detail makes it look cheap and it is a free. Some of the sprites look too similar to NES games, such as your protagonist sharing a similar sprite to Balloon Fight.
As you push through the underworld, you’ll get different weapons and bombs to use. Bombs are thrown like grenades rather than laid on the ground. Both share the same pool of ammunition. To replenish your ammo you can either find one of the frequent gun consoles for a full refill or you can wait and watch it slowly refill. Your health will climb its way up over time as well.
These different weapons are more for destroying different colored blocks in the form of doors. The only real difference is the projectile color and the range. Destructible blocks found in walls, ceilings and floors are all highlighted with a different color needed to destroy them. Once destroyed, these blocks are gone forever. The cumbersome part is having to switch through your weapons between long range combat and opening a door of a specific color that is above the level of your long range weapons. A simple shot from any gun once you’ve reached a gun’s level would have sufficed. Like a key.
Other times restriction is in the form of giant barrier that you’ll need to find a console in order to disable them. You’ll uncover a lot of abilities such as being able to flap your wings in order to fly. You already have a good sized jump that lets you traverse the land easy, but flying early on makes it even easier to get anywhere.
The game makes use of several different keys to switch between and use your bombs, your gun, and your abilities when abilities. Some of the skills you learn should just be upgraded rather than having an extra ability to shuffle through. To make old abilities useful, they have perks such as faster health or ammunition regeneration. Quick buttons are nice, but the real issue is Shensetta being a keyboard only game.
There is no controller support, but as always there is third party support around that. Another minor issue is having up bound to jump, while its never an issue for those using a keyboard and it can be disabled on the directional pad with third party support, disabling it also disables the ability to move the cursor up in menus.
The other way you can upgrade your character is by collecting coins that you’ll find hovering around or from defeated coins. You can upgrade your maximum ammo, health, offensive strength and blocking defense. The upgrade menu is wedged into a small gap of space as the start menu, so the words are kept small. It looks a big overwhelming to see so much when all you are in there for are upgrades.
To make an upgrade, you’ll need to visit the upgrade sectors. These sectors also refill your health to full and let you save your game. To find these sectors, look between the gap in a waterfall. It would be nice if there was a more visual representation than a black gap.
Each creature you exterminate gives you experience. After a while you level up and gain a little bit to all of your stats. Its a nice system with two ways to excel rather than a typical grind. Dead enemies will respawn if you wait long enough. It must be frustrating as an exterminator to have dangerous creatures that keep coming back. Perhaps there is a mega monster laying eggs.
There is a good variety of enemies that feel like other enemies of the era its trying to emulate. Foes that stick to walls and crawl around floors, ceilings and walls. Pickles that have a wave pattern. From time to time you get locked in an area and forced to defeat a gauntlet of enemies in order to proceed. If you’re ever stuck in a room, there is always a refill station.
Shensetta is a quick game with no ending outside of a quick thanks for playing. More would have been nice, but it feels like a quick quality project. This is someone’s great starter game, a stepping stone to make something better in the future. The only issues that I have are lack of controller support and a lack of full screen support. You’re stuck in a small window to give you that retro feel if you were playing on a security monitor than something with high resolution.
Its still a good game, I just want more of it. More detail. More game. More of an ending. Its better to leave us wanting more than wear out your welcome.