As I’ve mentioned before, I’m quite partial to a bit of bullet hell action. From first seeing the likes of Radiant Silvergun I was intrigued, and over the years I’ve enjoyed plenty of titles in the genre. I’m not much cop at them of course, but I enjoy them all the same. Sisters Royale offers up a great addition to the genre in terms of its action, though the wrapping of the style and story might not float everyone’s boat.
The tale goes that in the land of Pultima, five powerful sisters were destined to defeat Saytan and save the world. Problem is, they hate each other. After going their separate ways, they gathered together after many years, giving hope to the people of the land that Saytan would be defeated. However, this hope crumbled fast as they had not reunited to fight together, but to fight each other – over a MAN.
It’s a fairly bizarre – yet familiarly anime – set up, and is definitely presented about as tongue in cheek as you may expect. Each of the sisters, from eldest Sonay to youngest Lale, are drawn in an eye-catching way, with exaggerated features and outfits, shall we say, though to be fair these are still fairly tame compared to other examples (ask your parents, kids). Each of their interactions is surprisingly wholesome, with the younger sisters pestering the older ones on how to date Yaskin (the man they’re all fighting over) or how to get him to fall in love with them. Mild mannered insults are thrown around, as well as a few subtle nods to *cough* features *cough* that stick out, but mostly it’s quite light-hearted and entertaining.
We can play as any of the five, with each stage end capped by fighting one of the remaining four as well as our characters conscience as boss battles. Each come with their own fire patterns and special attacks, though there didn’t seem to be any difference in movement speed or life bar allocation.
Three difficulties are available, and even on normal Sisters Royale doesn’t take it easy on us. Scrolling vertically, we move our character in chibi form around some pleasant looking stages, dodging enemies and bullets while firing off our own. It takes about 5 seconds though to see that this won’t be a walk in the park. Enemies come out in great numbers and provide even more bullets to contend with. It’s easy to get overwhelmed early on, but it also never really feels unfair; if anything I managed to scrape through by the skin of my teeth fairly often, leading to some exhilarating gameplay moments.
It pays to play this way too. By default, each of the sister’s shots are fairly weak. But risk getting near to an enemy or bullet and we active power mode, where the shots gets a substantial buff for as long as we’re near danger. It’s a risk/reward that feels very satisfying and lets us plow through all foes with ease while we’re able to pull it off. Not only that, but it increases out score multiplier by 8x, and dishes out more coins to collect too. These are merely an extension of the scoring system rather than any sort of currency, and help gain life points or bombs back, though the action was often so hectic that I don’t actually know if I ever got enough to get anything!
The bombs are there to get us out of a pinch and offer up not only invulnerability for a few seconds, but deal out massive damage, extra coins and clear the screen of bullets. A summon ability is also at our disposal, offering up a super powered alternate fire that is much harder to wield. Lele’s, for example, collects bullets in our path before firing them back out at everyone nearby. It’s super powerful, but also caps out at a certain point, so we run the risk of leaving ourselves in harm’s way.
These also dish out extra coins, but this is one of the least favourable aspects too; not only was I unable to really determine if I gained anything from these coins, but they appear in such vast numbers that they clog up the playing field, making it hard to see enemies and bullet to avoid. Losing all three lives resets our score and coin counter (there are infinite continues), but also drops a large chunk of them on the field to pick up, further obscuring play. I think I’d much have preferred a clearer scoring system to gain extra lives than this current set up.
Really though, it’s hard to gripe too much. Each character has their own interactions with each sister, which are often amusing – if not brilliantly spell checked – the general gameplay is great fun and offers up a good challenge, and it can be beaten in about 30 minutes per run. High score chasing is the name of the game, so it’s a shame to not see some sort of leader board system to contend with. It’s also a pretty bare bones experience outside of running through the solo campaign in that, well, that’s it. No co-op of any sort, no alternate modes or boss rush, nothing. A DLC character, Ode, is available for purchase, offering up an alternate view on the sisters fight and is a fun character to use in her own right, but it’s still running the same levels and fighting the same characters.
Sisters Royale is a fun and amusing bullet hell title that offers up some solid arcade action, but little else. The specific anime styling will either draw you in or put you off (you know what I mean), but the light-hearted tale will likely win over even the most prudish players. Some online leader boards or alternate modes wouldn’t have gone amiss, but even so I still think Sisters Royale is worth a look if you’re into, or curious about, the bullet hell genre.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.