Notoriously difficult games are almost always divisive. Rise & Shine may be one of the toughest 2D shooters ever created but does it provide a satisfying challenge or does the difficulty rise too high to shine?
Upon starting Rise & Shine, you're treated to a lovely visual feast of vibrant hand-drawn graphics. It's seriously one gorgeous game from its detailed environments to its memorable cast of characters. What brings its bright presentation to an even higher level is its sense of humour that's inspired by many classic gaming moments. For starters, you play as a little boy named Rise who lives on Gamearth which is under attack by evil space grunts from planet Nexgen. He soon discovers the legendary gun known as Shine and together, Rise & Shine must save the world. The story that follows is full of hilarious moments and many obscure references that retro gaming enthusiasts (such as myself) will love. Overall, the colourful yet violent tone of the story blends perfectly with the absurd humour and references. It'll surely put a smile on your face as you blast away robotic alien foes.
Rise & Shine's gameplay is quite unique as you take cover and shoot and solve puzzles using a wide variety of ammo. For example, you'll unlock bullets that explode and are launched in an arc, ones that you can control in mid-air, and also infuse ammo with lightning in order to power machinery and stun enemies. The mix of exhilarating shooting action within seemingly impossible situations and head-scratching puzzles can be rather enjoyable. Heck, there's even a shoot 'em up stage although I personally found it to be too easy. Anyway, you'll also encounter many memorable moments and boss fights. Slowly chipping away at hulking monstrosities and having to steer bullets within confined spaces while turrets are trying to shoot you down is nothing short of fun.
Unfortunately, Rise & Shine's difficulty is far too dependent on long stretches of tough situations that force you to memorize every single occurrence before you can progress. Keep in mind; I'm an old-school gamer who loves a challenge. Therefore, you can trust me when I say that Rise & Shine is simply too frustrating to be thoroughly enjoyable. Boss fights can last for minutes of non-stop action during which one hit could end your life in an instant. There's nothing more infuriating than almost beating a boss while coming across a situation where you think to yourself "What the heck do I do now?" then having a stray bullet take your life and force you to start the process all over again. Even when you finally progress after dozens of failed attempts, it usually isn't worth the effort.
On top of a frustrating difficulty, some of the puzzles are incredibly obtuse. For example, one part has a gravestone zap you whenever you try to walk past it. So, you push a button to restart only for the exact same thing to happen. In order to pass it, you have to let it kill you and wait until your skull rolls past the grave then you're reanimated on the other side. Seriously? Other puzzles may have you time when to push a button in order to launch boulders from a spring and shoot fruit onto weights to open a door. None of these moments are self-explanatory although I must admit; figuring some of them out does give you a sense of accomplishment.
All of these tough moments aside, Rise & Shine's campaign is extremely short. If you were an expert and knew how to solve every puzzle and survive every test of endurance efficiently then I'd imagine the entire game would take about an hour to complete. There are a couple of collectibles to be found but considering the campaign is tough enough, most gamers would be happy to just finish it.
Rise & Shine may be an infuriating endeavor but it's also a memorable one full of humour and a fun mix of gameplay elements. That being said, it only appeals to those looking for a hardcore 2D action game that'll thoroughly test their patience.
- + Gorgeous visuals and great sense of humour with tons of video game references
- + Enjoyable blend of gameplay mechanics
- + Many memorable moments and boss fights
- - Difficulty almost entirely relies on lengthy stretches of memorization
- - Some puzzles are far too obtuse
- - Challenge aside, the campaign is very short