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Fans of shooters, anime, or just general Japanese weirdness should definitely spend some time in Castle of Shikigami III. It's a fine-tuned shmup that, while not revolutionary, has all the makings of a fun, challenging game. Sure, I wish the characters were more balanced, there are prettier shooters out there, and the $30 price tag may be just a bit steep. But, as a fan of the genre, I can tell you I've been playing this game for months and I'm not sick of it, yet.
When you look past the flashy presentation, you’ll realize that this game is simply a decent, fun, and challenging vertical shooter. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s up to you if you want to indulge in what it has to offer, be it the insanely tough gameplay or the ludicrous translation. But if all else fails, it can teach you one thing: Laughing out loud is the basic trait of an International Ninja. Think about it.
However, Castle of Shikigami III is alarmingly thin on content. It feels like something I should be downloading instead of taking to the checkout counter; it's only got five levels and a handful of modes (including co-op). The mere fact that it fills a niche on the Wii doesn't excuse this disappointing a lack of substance.
Castle of Shikigami III is a great title for people who enjoy the occasional classic, arcade-style game. However, it has a decided lack of content and doesn't offer much beyond the initial experience. It is definitely not a bad title and the gameplay is solid. Still, this title would have been vastly improved if there were more levels or modes to extend the gameplay experience.
But that's actually the game's biggest problem. Never mind that the arcade original had a vertical screen, so your view will be marred by giant banners on either side of the action - if it's a real problem, you can rotate the view 90 degrees and play horizontally using the entire screen. No, the real rip here is that we couldn't help feeling the entire time we played it like this should have been a downloadable title instead of a $30 (at press time) full-package product. All three of the major consoles feature downloadable shooters both old and new, and they cost $10-$20 on average. At those prices, Castle of Shikigami would be a definite buy. As it is, only shooter die-hards will feel like they're getting their money's worth.
As much as the shooter fan in me would love nothing more than to praise Arc System Works and Aksys for bringing Shikigami to the Wii, it's a shame that we've been relegated to arcade ports as our only new shoot-em-up offerings these days -- no wonder people have lost interest in the genre. As a port of the arcade game, Shikigami certainly succeeds in delivering the same level of shooting intensity at home on the Wii -- it's just that, fundamentally, this is a game that really only the most hardcore shooter fans will truly master and then enjoy. Thankfully, for the rest of us, there are plenty of great shooters already available on Virtual Console, where $40 will go quite a long way.
Hardcore shooter fans may get into this, but the rest of us will likely find it frustrating.
The game records high scores, but only if you set your auto-save to "on" and don't use a continue. The high scores are organized by character and weapon, but I would have preferred a single table. Also, without so much space on the screen, couldn't they keep the high score up there while you're playing? Castle of Shikigami 3 is decent option if you're in the mood for some twitch shooting action, but I'd prefer to see a more "back to the basics" 2D shooting title for the Wii.