There are so many side-scrolling platformers out there that it's hard to keep up. Thankfully, Shu provides a unique twist on the typical formula and now that it's available for Vita, let's take a look at how it holds up in such a crowded genre.
Shu is a little goofy-looking fellow with wing-like arms. Unfortunately, his village has been destroyed by a devastating storm so he flees in the hopes of surviving. Along the way, he'll find many similarly stranded townsfolk who assist him in various ways. Together, Shu and friends seek out the cause of the storm and might just put an end to it once and for all. You control Shu by running, jumping, and gliding through hazard-filled stages while gathering collectibles and trying not to die. He's quite an agile little fellow but he doesn't have many moves of his own. That's where meeting new friends comes in handy. Once he gets a fellow villager to tag along, they grant him a new power such as being able to float up streams of air, run on water, or double-jump. This ever-shifting lineup of party members adds a welcome layer of variety to the adventure which results in one enjoyable and colourful 2D experience.
The world of Shu is undeniably charming complete with a cute goofball protagonist and many quirky characters to meet along the way. The stages take place in environments that start off being bright and colourful but quickly devolve into dark and mysterious. Although this is acceptable, it does make the atmosphere start to feel too dreary and repetitive. Also, being able to spot hazards in the darker stages becomes a problem, especially while playing your Vita in a well-lit room or outside. On the plus side, the soundtrack is fantastic and changes from delightful rhythms to dramatic orchestral pieces whenever the storm rears its ugly head. The sound effects are well done, too, as you collect items and hear Shu vocalize while he performs acrobatic feats.
Shu features a good amount of replay value as simply finishing the stages is just the beginning. You can also try and beat them within time trials complete with leaderboards so you can see where you rank among your friends and worldwide. Each stage also includes a mural piece and a collection of multicoloured Babbies as well as a large quantity of butterflies. On top of all this, you can earn badges for completing stages without dying. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to replay stages although if you're not a perfectionist then doing so may be too repetitive and as a result, probably not worth the extra effort.
A huge contributing factor to this repetition is the fact that there are only just over a dozen stages to play through. It's definitely not a long game by any stretch but it is quite challenging. If your platforming skills are up to snuff then you can breeze through the majority of the campaign. That being said, there are plenty of frustrating portions that'll surely get on your nerves. First of all, there is a lives system. Whenever you reach a checkpoint, you're granted a handful of lives and if you deplete all of them then you have to start the entire stage again from the beginning. Considering the storm chases you at times and you have to play with utmost precision whenever it does, learning the course may require you to use more than a few lives. It can be highly irritating even for someone who loves challenging 2D platformers (such as myself). Overall, it's not as tough as Super Meat Boy or Rude Bear but it can still be annoying at times.
Shu is a memorable and charming little 2D adventure that features varied gameplay and plenty of replay value. It may occasionally be irritating but the amount of challenging fun to be had surely makes it worthwhile if you're a fan of the genre.
- + Solid 2D platforming with an enjoyable party system that adds welcome variety
- + Charming world and characters
- + Collectibles and challenges add replay value
- - The odd annoying section combined with the lives system causes needless frustration
- - Many environments are too dark
- - Very few stages to master