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Xbox 360 Shoooooting Festa Hands-On Impressions

Sampling DeathSmiles 2, KOF Sky Stage, After Burner Climax, Ketsui and Senko no Rondo 2.


The Xbox 360 Shoooooting Festa event in Akihabara had more than just stage presentations. After DeathSmiles II, Guwange and other titles saw their on-stage unveils, Microsoft opened up the main demo area, allowing attendees to sample some of what makes 360 the place to go for shooting fans this generation.

The line in Akihabara for Microsoft's shooting event.
VIP shooting developers, Microsoft staff and some lovely Xbox ladies (see below for more) watched over the proceedings.

I immediately jumped on Senko no Rondo Duo, the sequel to Grev’s hybrid fighter/shooter. The original received mixed reviews, but the sequel has more characters, vibrant colors and a system that seems to make more sense than the original. Grev president Hiroyuki Maruyama was on hand to give people a go at the game on Hori's brand new VX-SA arcade stick.

Senko no Rondo Duo (left) and its in-release predecessor (right).

Incidentally, Hori had reps on hand promoting three new joysticks, the VX-SA, the wireless FS-EX and the gargantuan RAP Premium. The latter mimics a Viewlixx cabinet joystick panel.

Hori branded joysticks, on display at the event.

Next, I checked out KOF: Sky Stage, another game that has met with mixed reviews in the arcade. This pairing of King of Fighters and shoot 'em up gameplay looks so much like the old Shikigami no Shiro games that it’s distracting, but I gave it a try.

The 360 version of KOF Sky Stage makes its playable debut. The arcade version is already out.

Despite the jarring juxtaposition of KOF characters against mech enemies and then KOF series bosses, the game’s core mechanics were workable -- collect the little medals that fall down after killing enemies, and get your score up by canceling bullets with your special moves (like Kyo’s flaming fist). Before my play time was up, I got to Shermie, who had some nice bullet patterns that came in from the side.

Actual 360 shots.

After Burner Climax was just as interesting as it looked during the stage presentation -- a rip-roaring blast through the sky. I struggled to get used to the lock-on mechanics with the provided flight stick. Although I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, when I did manage to sink a bunch of enemies in a row with my missiles and get a little chain going, it felt pretty nice. What didn’t feel nice was getting shot out of the sky quite quickly afterward. Oh well -- I’ll leave that to practice.

After Burner Climax with the flight stick.
After Burner Climax without the flight stick.

Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku-tachi Extra, due for Spring package release, felt just like the arcade game, with lots of manic bullet patterns and the eternal temptation to zoom in close to enemies for lots of delicious green multiplier boxes. I didn’t play the remixed mode but I watched some people who did, and it seemed that the screen was full of those green boxes no matter what was happening. Although the game didn’t get the HD treatment like the mainline CAVE releases, it still looked fine on the monitors present.

Do not try this at home!
Ketsui Extra hits on April 22.

The newly announced DeathSmiles 2 was the last game I jumped on before leaving, and it was immediately apparent that Cave had spent time revising the game from the arcade original. There seemed to be a general darker tint to the monsters throughout the levels, and enemies had more finish to them. Rosa and Follett were selectable, and their attacks were similar to the original DeathSmiles. Before every boss, a cut scene showcasing the boss would play, which somehow made me take that first Reindeer boss a lot more seriously.

DeathSmiles IIX quickly gets its playable debut.
The DeathSmiles IIX cast.


Outside of these games, Microsoft brought out seemingly the entire lineup of Xbox 360 package and download shooters for attendees to sample. See our full event coverage page for all the details.

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