The Nardio Review
IS Rise & Shine WORTH YOUR TIME?
WHAT SHOULD YOU PLAY IT ON?
First a lil backstory.
Rise & Shine created by Super Mega Team (Interview with the developers here) got on my radar a few months ago when I was in the mood to replay one of my fave and I dare say classic iOS games. Pro Zombie Soccer Apocalypse Edition. To my dismay I discovered it and another game SuperMagical that we loved were abandoned by the devs Super Mega Team and was basically unplayable on iTunes… After contacting the devs to see what was up I was told they had to drop the game because they didn’t have the resources to update it and then continue trying to make games.
As a buyer of said game I was a bit cross, but really tried to understand. Indie game dev is hard, expensive and often times not very profitable. They did make me aware of their new game Rise & Shine that was in development. I was even given a demo for the game. I decided to not play the demo and wait for the finished version of the game. Also I was torn as to weather I would even cover and or promote the game. While I sort of understood that game dev was tough I still couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of not supporting a game that people paid for. I think I remember the games were featured by Apple a few times as well. At least make sure it’s playable. I spoke to a bunch of Indie game dev friends and all were adamant about supporting the games they made. Especially if those games were featured.
Anywho, It was nearing release time and I decided to review the game. I asked for a review copy and bam this experience was born.
HOW IT PLAYS AND WHY IT FAILS:
I wanted to love this game.
Rise & Shine surprised me with it’s gorgeous art. Then hit me even harder with it’s violence. Just a few minutes into the game that I started to notice the parade of references to popular video games… being killed off…brutally. It was weird watching them being killed off. It wasn’t until I made it to an area absolutely filled with these characters that I found myself wondering what kind of game am I playing? Is it light hearted, is it mostly black humor? I don’t know and honestly I don’t know if the devs do either.
The game gets very dark and honestly it never really fits. Sort of like the artist and the writer both want to make very different games and kinda gave up on working with each other mid way. Rise & Shine sorta tries to tell a hopeful story, but it fails due to the constant depressing imagery. The writing never ever fits the visuals. That’s not to say the writing is really much of an issue here. The story is terrible even by video game standards. I think the game could have used either a lot more of it and or just abandoned it completely and focused on other things… Like extending the game.
Rise & Shine is a painfully short game made long by painfully forced difficulty that just feels forced. This game is short even in comparison to Super Mega Team’s previous two mobile games… It wouldn’t be so bad if the story told was fun and engaging, but it’s not. It’s stupid. We move from point to point, with tidbits of info and then it just ends in a really dumb way.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the gameplay was fun and memorable, maybe even filled with replay… but it’s not. It painful and lacking… surprisingly so. Rise & Shine feels like the very first chapter of a game not a full game that deserves to be priced as such. It feels like Super Mega team just sorta gave up during development and decided to just ship the game.
You control a boy named Rise who takes possession of a legendary gun, Shine. Really the gun is just sort of an underdeveloper character that feels like a jerk. As far as Rise goes his character development stops after the first cut-scene. The pair fights/suffers through an invading force of robots and space grunts….that amount to seemingly less than 10 enemies… There lack of enemy variety in game is really painful considering the bright and colorful world packed to the brim with tons of other characters. This is one of the many times I wish more effort was put in making Rise & Shine it’s own game than wasting so much time calling out to other experiances. The game has no soul and forgetttable enemies. Not one single fight can be remembered fondly. Not one single cool enemy. Just wave after wave of what you see in the very first area.
Rise & Shine is bastardized child of a traditional side-scrolling shooter and a bubble popper. It makes sense considering Super Mega Team’s previous games were evolved bubble poppers. Sadly the gameplay never feels right. I played/endured Rise & Shine on my PC with an XBox controller and hated life. Aiming was never good enough. The constant need to shuffle through ammo never felt right. I tried playing the game with my keyboard and mouse for a bit but hated it even more. Rise & Shine is less about reflexes and player skill than memorization and learning by cheap death, after cheap death, after cheap death what to expect next and plan accordingly. Then hope that luck is on your side. Most of the time it won’t be.
The gameplay of Rise & Shine is painfully disjointed. Is it an evolved bubble popper like Super Mega Teams other games were? Not really because there is character movement this time. But is there? Most of the game requires you to just park yourself behind a barrier and wait out waves of enemies. Just like their previous games. The few parts that allow you to move are few and far between. Even then movement is lacking and feels like it was never really developed. Super Mega Team never really embraces the new play style and in the end falls back into what it did it it’s previous two games. It’s a shame because Rise & Shine never really gets a chance to come into it’s own. As it’s own game it feels lacking.
One problem with Rise & Shine is to artificially stretch the game out, enemy encounters consist of many painfully long waves with no save points in between battles. The combat feels even more punishing thanks to the bullet hell level of enemy bullets that are thrown at you mixed in with tons of one shot attacks that makes your health bar moot. It seems the bullet spewing enemies fit most of the situations, but the one shot one kill enemies feel forced in. With them in the mix most of the strategy goes out the window and the player is left just with trying to kill the big threats and then spraying and praying bullets towards the rest of the enemies.
Some areas of the game are so trial and error players will waste insane stretches of time trying to figure our just what to do next. The picture above is of a fight that I spent at least an hour on. With no visual cues on how to proceed and seemingly randomized enemy I had no idea what was going on. Randomly on my seemingly 150th try he kept being susceptible to a certain bullet. Then randomly he was able to take damage and die… The fight made no sense. It was not fun.
This is not a fun game.
This may appeal to some of the masochistic sorts of players, but for me it was a punishing experience that I only stuck with for so long out of respect for the developers. I just kept hoping it would get better, but it never did…. It got worse. The more I played the more I realized that Super Mega Team forgot what fun was. Forgot what pacing was about. Forgot what difficulty progression was. The developer I once loved and respected really lost their way in Rise & Shine and it makes me sad.
Sure there were glimmers of fun and possibly genius, but they were so short lived and more often than nor buried beneath poor fight design that it was sadly for naught. There area a few areas where you need to think to proceed and not just spray and pray after dying countless time to learn what to expect. A few. The flying ship fight for example only happened once. That was fun and interesting. Sure all of the enemies were recycled but it was an interesting break.
The NPC town with totally forgettable NPCs felt like a wasted opportunity. The entire area and experience just felt disjointed and unfinished. The same can be said of the forced mini games there. They seemed to indicate they optional, but they totally weren’t. To make matters worse the mini games felt lazy… Pathetically lazy. There was no real progression of difficulty here.. just deal with it. The rewards for them felt pitiful for what they were. I was hoping afterwards for more story and possibly more mini games, but no… It was forgotten… Just move on and forget about the flying ship battles to.
There were collectible items (Circle gun sight thingys?) in game… But they felt thrown in at the last possible moment. Like the art for them feels kinda lazy and phoned in. You just kinda find them randomly when you shoot at stuff. They don’t seem to add anything to the game and honestly I got most most of them just by playing but feel zero need to hunt them all down. It’s obvious lazy filler.
It seemed like the original design for Rise & Shine was for it to be a sort of tactical action platformer, but then it devolved into Super Mega Team’s classic bubble popping games albeit with new graphics…and much worse gameplay. But the tactics were soon abandoned as well and the bubble popping game devolved into frustrating spray and pray gun fights. Heavy with learn by cheap death memorization mixed in with unhealthy doses of randomization and luck. I never once felt proud or accomplished after finishing a challenging area. Mostly drained, frustrated and annoyed. Luck played way too darn heavy into this game. Enemies come in at set intervals, but shoot off multiple shots, flood the screen and move seemingly randomly at time. When they die they shoot off even more bullets as a parting fuck you. Rise & Shine is not a thinking persons game. This is not a bullet hell game. Rise & Shine is not a game for players who want to do things differently or have replay. Most fights in Rise & Shine can only be completed in one specific way. You will only learn that way after dying countless times in the process. To make matters worse, the save system here is unbelievably bad.
No. Seriously. The save system here may well be the worst part of this clusterfuck.
The game saves at set check points. There is no player controlled save. So if you spent an hour on one fight and then breezed through two others only to have your spirits crushed at another super cheap fight and then take a break from the game. Fuck you… Check point was before that first fight. Better not take too long getting back to the game and forget how to deal with that fight.
The punishing checkpoints were also part of why I soldered on for so darn long in Rise & Shine. As much as I was hating the gameplay, I just wanted to finish it. I just wanted to get to a fun part. I just wanted to get to the next part of the story. And so I suffered on… Then I made to an area of the game that had the longest, most painfully difficult and cheap fight yet. I was there for hours.. Hours dying, learning, dying randomly, getting further. Dying cheaply over and over and over again, and then I cleared it. It felt like it was luck mixed in with painfully searing in what to expect next. But mostly luck, A wave of disgust hit me. Ugh… I never wanted to see that section of the game ever again. Ever. Then I went to the last boss fight and spent another few hours hating life and Super Mega Team. The boss fight was horrible. Mostly because of a single almost impossible to kill add that the boss summons. The boss himself is doable. But the add is insane…
The lil fucker takes tons of hits to go fown while shooting about a dozen spread tiny missels at you non stop. It’s maddening and he is honestly harder than the boss. The tiny missels are super easy to miss. He takes so long to kill that I missed phases in the fight where I was supposed to deal the killing blow.
So I took a break.
I tweeted my frustrations about this add in the boss fight to the devs and I get a simple sarcastic response.
— Adrián Ramis (@XxPleYxX) January 15, 2017
Yea.. #Tips.. Totally give me an on the rails experience with almost zero chance to experiment and learn about what works and then expect players to know how to deal with shit game design. How about organically introducing enemies and give players the chance to learn how to deal with them. You know, make the game a bit longer and better? #Tips
I collected my thoughts and came back to the game…. only to have my checkpoint be at that shit fight that took me hours before the horrible boss fight…. Really?
Really Super Mega Team?
I gave up.
I tried for another half hour looked at the time and decided this was a shit game. This was a shit game from a dev that forgot how to gamedev and called it. I looked up the final fight on youtube, watched some poor bastard waste over an hour of his life on that boss and then watched an ending so stupid I was at a loss.
I cannot believe I wasted so much of my time on Rise & Shine.
Fuck this game.
The ending was the final slap in the face for me. A painful wake up call to let me know that the developer that knew and loved was gone. With it two great games they abandoned. In their place is this steaming pile of fail.
What went wrong?
For whatever reason I get the feeling Rise & Shine was supposed to be a much longer game. A better game. I cannot for the life of me fathom for a moment that this is a game that a developer intentionally set out to create. I just can’t.
The world feels rushed and underdeveloped. I get the feeling we were supposed to get more worlds. I mean why give us RPG land and NPC town and ignore the rest of the gaming genres? More mini games and even more space ship battles. The story feels horribly, horribly rushed. I can’t bring myself to accept that the ending we got was what was originally planned. Even the explanation for things at the end was horrible. Maybe there were some funding problems, maybe there was internal fighting. Who knows. But one thing that I am really sure about is this game cannot have had proper game testing before release. There is no way this game in it’s final form went around to enough game testers. It just feels to raw and broken. Too many fights feel as if the devs never went back to replay them. As if the level designer just got dumped and took all of his/her frustrations out on the player who played the game and no one had the heart to say stop.
Let’s dissasemble the Steam Page description:
ABOUT THIS GAME
Shoot Fast, Think Faster
Rise & Shine is a true “think and gun” that combines elements of arcade shooters, bullet hells, and puzzle platformers to create a new blend of strategy and viscera. Switch between Shine’s add-ons to solve puzzles that redefine what bullets can do. Guide projectiles through intricate mazes, electrify damaged equipment to discover new pathways, and juggle 8-bit fruit because why not?
Get Ready to Respawn
Don’t let the cute character models fool you, saving Gamearth won’t be easy. Prepare to dash flurries of missiles and avoid unseen traps as you fight to prevent its destruction. It’s going to take all you’ve got to stay alive in the face of lethal robot armadas, enormous bosses, giant death wheels, and (of course) brainthirsty zombies. You’re not gettin’ through this in one piece, kiddo.
Next Level Detail
Enter a world where every level is a single, continuous work of art. Each level is composed of hand drawn illustrations with multiple parallax scroll layers so every forward step is new; no tiling or repeated elements. This meticulous attention to detail allows each frame to flow seamlessly from one to the next, a quality you’ll wish you had on your 20th respawn.
Shoot Fast, Think Faster
The game tries to be a think and gun, and you see pretty quickly in each of the fights that there was supposed to be strategic elements in them….Then you see the extra 100 or so extra bullets and dozen or so enemies each time that shows you the filling that was forcefully put in there to stretch out the difficulty and playtime of each one to pad this painfully shallow experience. Now there were a few areas of the game where you had to think with guiding your bullets down some paths, and even areas that required you to best utilize exploding barrels. But those were to darn few and far between.
Get Ready to Respawn
For the fucking life of me I am sick to fucking death of game developers trying to make punishing gameplay that needs luck seem like a feature. It’s not. It’s shit game design. This isn’t a feature, this is you trying to protect yourselves from negative reviews. It’s sad. The difference between Rise & Shine and a game like Dark Souls that has a lot of player deaths is that you learn something from each death. It’s almost always clear. Most of the time even preventable. When you do die, you then apply that knowledge to improve your next attempt. That happens a tiny, pathetic amount here, but luck plays a heavier role. Again, I never felt skilled or proud when I beat a tough section, I just felt lucky and glad to be done with it.
Next Level Detail
Now I’ll give Super Mega Team this much. The Rise & Shine looks great. But a fresh coat of paint of a broken home is not worth a nights stay. Rise & Shine’s presentation is part of the problem. Enemies and bullets blend into the backgrounds way, way, way too easily. That’s game dev 101 no no #1. All to often in fights you will find yourself dying to bullets that barely stand out from the backgrounds. Some bullets are pitiful specs on the screen. Now I played this on a 15 inch laptop and a 42 inch monitor and lemme tell you, the detail here is nothing to be proud of. It’s honestly shameful. And really? Touting “no tiling or repeated elements” As short as this game was you should have had “no tiling or repeated elements” all over the place with some more levels. Another two stages of ship battles would not have been so hard to add in. A few more levels of actual platforming would have been a godsend. As is the game is in excusably short, don’t tout not reusing stuff.
The final area before the last boss fight is the worst possible offender for horrible level design and in my opinion proves the lack of player testing. It’s nearly impossible to see your shots before you shoot. The player’s gun sight laser doesn’t stand out from the backgrounds and enemies almost at all. That plus the backgrounds cluttered with “Next Level Detail” that it’s spray and pray city.
Rise & Shine’s Biggest Problem
Rise & Shine never became it’s own game. It didn’t even try. Super Mega Team spent/wasted so much time with winks and nods to other games that it forgot to focus on it’s own. Not one cool or endearing moment was had in Rise & Shine. Not one unique element of play or boss fight that made you stop and go wow. So much of Rise & Shine is spent in the shadow of other games that it never comes into it’s own. Even in the story. The character Rise is never more than the characters who surround him. Never stands out from the worlds Super Mega Team rips off, destroys and in the ends wastes. Also it’s to damn short. I can never ever overstate just how short this game is when you get past it’s artificially inflated difficulty.
So will the developers add more content?
@DrillerDev Problem is the usual. We are a tiny team with a tight budget and it might be too late for that if the game is not selling well.
— SuperMegaTeam (@SuperMegaTeam) January 15, 2017
The developers response to adding more to Rise & Shine mirrored his response to me as to way they abandoned two paid games before. This is the big turn off for me now with Super Mega Team and Rise & Shine. This is always why I was hesitant to review and promote the game. Lots of devs take the time to polish games that get bad reviews. They go back and they fix the problems. Now Super Mega team did state that they were going to patch the game to fix some of the more difficult areas in the game, but they aren’t adding any new content. So then… we are left with a painfully short game…
I’m sad that my enthusiasm for Rise & Shine and it’s developer Super Mega Team plummeted so hard during my play through, because it’s not all bad. There were some interesting times and like I said many times before you could see the potential here. I’ve seen a bit of it in game. And I have definitely seen what they are capable of with their previous games. This is a talented team. I even appreciated some of the nods to other games. Unfortunately again these references got stale and soon just became about shock value, while not having tried at all to create an identity for itself. I can go on and on, dissect the game even more, but at over 4000 words already It hit me that I put more effort into this review than Super Mega Team did with Rise & Shine. My goodwill and respect for this developer is as finished as their support for their iOS games.
It’s not to late for Rise & Shine. A lot of devs have went back and added to games after launch. Tweaked and fixed. More importantly added and changed. I honestly believe that Rise & Shine can become an amazing game. It just needs post launch commitment. It needs more content that is designed to be fun, not time wasting. It needs the old Super Mega Team back. Super Mega Team don’t leave Rise & Shine like this. Make it better.
I’d love nothing more than to sing this games’s praises. To see your team so successful that you can port all of your old games to Steam and share them with the world. To see your new IP rise and shine. But that’s up to you. Right now you dropped the ball hard with this. Pick it up dammit. Own this and do right by your paying customers, your fans, and yourselves.
DO NOT BUY RISE & SHINE.
A FREE STEAM GAME KEY WAS GIVEN TO ME TO REVIEW THIS GAME.
Agree? Disagree? Write your comments below
- Single player
- Steam Achievements
- Controller Support
- Steam Trading Cards
- I’m not promoting this mess.