Very few game genres remain as enjoyable as a good old shmup. Thankfully, Ghost Blade HD is a challenging and extremely enjoyable shoot 'em up so let's strap on our garter belts and take to the skies.
Ghost Blade HD has you control one of three busty babes who pilot powerful ships. The controls are surprisingly simple as all you do is soar through stages while avoiding projectiles and unleashing a fury of regular shots, focused shots, and stocked bombs whenever you're in a sticky situation. It's quite simple stuff but just like most shoot 'em ups, it's tough to master. Being able to weave through clouds of enemy bullets requires a lot of skill. Once you begin to master its deceptively simple gameplay, the satisfaction that you feel when you climb the leaderboards makes it all worthwhile. On top of that, the sharp neon visuals and rocking soundtrack add even more gratification to the awesomely old-school gameplay. Overall, Ghost Blade HD is a shmup without many bells and whistles but that's what makes it such an endearing title.
The three ladies each have unique weaponry which makes experimenting with them a rewarding task. Ghost has a wide regular shot, Rekka fires a wall of projectiles, and Milan has more focused laser blasts. I prefer Milan because she seems to tear through enemies much faster than the other two. Having such a distinct variety of ships definitely adds a lot of value to Ghost Blade HD considering most indie shoot 'em ups don't bother offering more than one ship. All of this being said, Ghost Blade sure doesn't do much to innovate the genre. It basically feels like a long-lost Dreamcast game. In fact, it initially released on Dreamcast a couple years ago. Go figure...
Ghost Blade HD includes a few modes to keep you busy. The main campaign can be played either solo or cooperatively with a friend. It's great when developers go the extra mile to add a cooperative component. With the rise of local multiplayer games, it only makes sense to let people enjoy your game together. Anyway, the campaign features three difficulty settings so both newcomers and hardcore genre fans can enjoy it at their own pace. Training mode allows you to practice individual stages and boss fights which is helpful if you want to iron out your strategy. Finally, score attack mode has you challenge a particular stage so you can climb its leaderboard.
Although this seems like a decent amount of content, it really is lacking replay value. The campaign is basically the only worthwhile mode as training is basically the same thing with a stage select and score attack is merely one of the stages. It's unfortunate because games like Teslapunk include extra content that extends their replay value far past what their campaigns have to offer. What makes matters worse is that there are only five brief stages to work through. I've played many arcade shmups with longer campaigns than this. After all is said and done, there's little reason to keep playing once you pass through the campaign a few times (which won't take long).
Ghost Blade HD features incredible classic shoot 'em up gameplay that's as rewarding as the best in the genre. However, its lack of content and disappointingly short campaign makes it fall just a little short of greatness.
- + Awesome shoot 'em up gameplay that's easy to learn and satisfying to master
- + The three ships are very distinct
- + You can play cooperatively with a pal
- - Limited amount of modes and replay value makes it fun for just a couple hours
- - Only five stages to shoot through
- - Doesn't do much to innovate the genre