This is One giant game of “what the fuck?” played 10 seconds at a time.
What is Shutshimi: Seriously Swole?
A silly-ass retro-flavored side-scrolling shoot-em-up where you control a buff fish equipped with various weapons and power-ups, but with a serious case of whiplash. The game is played in 10-second intervals, alternating between arcade shmupping and frantically picking out items in an upgrade shop, and does everything it possibly can to get in your way.
Basically, you shoot stuff for 10 seconds, then spend the next 10 in a shop browsing upgrade items. These items are randomized and often feature overly verbose “descriptions” that exist only to confuse and stress the crap out of you. Blast stuff, frantically skin through item descriptions, and then end up wearing a stupid hat, doubling in size and/or swimming upside down sums up the average Shutshimi run.
After two shoot-em-up stages, you’re thrust into a gigantic boss encounter, but remember… you only have 10 seconds. Should you fail at taking them down, you’ll have to make your way back through two more stages. They’ll have whatever remaining health the did back during your first encounter, and often, it’s not like you had any control over your damage output. Chances are you just picked a random upgrade because you couldn’t make sense of its description and now your movement speed is reduced, you’re dressed up like the Bit.Trip Runner, and now you have a shotgun that requires you to be right up in their face. Then you die.
This is a bite-sized arcade game meant to be played over and over again, which makes it perfect on the Vita. I’m honestly shocked it’s not available on the Switch, given it was ported to Wii U back when that was a thing.
I’ve had Shutshimi installed on my beautiful blue Vita for years now and I take that thing everywhere. If I have 5 minutes, I’ll launch Shutshimi, fail a lot, laugh in equal measure, and still find interesting power-ups I’ve never seen before. It’s a good time.
Where does it go wrong?
I don’t really think Shutshimi does anything wrong. No game is perfect, but it wholly succeeds in what it set out to do — provide a highly replayable arcade shooter that’s fun, weird, and different.
If I had to nitpick, I guess I wish it had more enemy variety. You’ll mostly find yourself taking down costume-clad sharks, squirrels, jellyfish, and pelicans, but you’re only there for a brief period anyway.
Most arcade games also want to give the player a chance at survival, but Shutshimi just wants to fuck with you. It lets you get comfortable for 10 whole seconds before slamming on the breaks, trolling you with its upgrade system, and making you deal with the good and the bad before inevitably failing.
Should you check it out?
Absolutely. If you’re after a small game to play on your Vita (or PS4 since it’s cross-buy) it’s a must-play, even if you’re naturally bad at shoot-em-ups. I mean, it’s $5 USD. I’ve played it more than games I paid $60 USD for.
Also, it’s the perfect toilet game. There, I said it.