It’s been a good while since we looked at a “Shmup” and Hanaji Games must have sensed this as they tactically sent their latest game over to us. Join us as we enter the fantasy world of Barrage Fantasia, watch out for the oncoming bullets!.
Welcome to the Fantasy Zone.
Barrage Fantasia opens with a little cutscene firstly showing off the 8bit handheld inspired graphics and showing you this title is one set in an almost JRPG styled game. Now while the cutscene shows a little action I didn’t actually realize there was much of a story until I decided to check out the Steam page where I was treated to this:
“A girl named Herb who claims to be a great witch lives in a poisonous swamp on the outskirts of a faraway country.One day, a red jewel is stolen from a shrine under her control.
Herb escapes the swamp for the first time in order to recover her jewels.”
Now realistically there is no need for a story in any shmup, they are usually there to explain the art direction or as window dressing, here is no exception, you can skip it and it’ll have no negative impact on your enjoyment at all. If on the other hand you live for Shmup stories (I can’t judge, love a good fighting game story) then it seems you’ve got a fun little Cute Em Up style narrative going on here.
While not strictly a cute-em-up Barrage Fantasia does a fantastic job with its visuals to be detailed and adorable while retaining its retro style.
I’m a bit apprehensive of calling it 8 or 16 bit as it kind of holds that middle ground with its vivid colour pallet and character models, it does remind me very much of an early Game Boy Advance title or late Neo Geo Pocket Colour title, either way it looks fantastic and reminds me of another title I loved “The Adventures of Ten and Till”.
Barrage Fantasia is a vertical Shmup, fortunately the developer knows the demand and you can play this beauty in TATE mode, ideal for all you flip grippers out there.
You choose a type of “familiar” which is basically your ship or shot type if you would prefer, each has a different range, damage and effectiveness against a certain colour bullet. Then you pick what type of Bomb you want, this is your screen clearing panic button but can also be changed to a more score focused bullet clearing shot.
Your standard shot has more range and is weaker where as if you hold down the B button when you shoot you’ll get a stronger and more focused shot but at the expense of movement.
In terms of score and game mechanics on offer Barrage Fantasia offers the graze mechanic for score improvement, this is where you literally graze your hitbox across a bullet. You can also restore lives by collecting little hearts, these usually appear if you kill an enemy while being close to them or tactically deploy a bomb.
Battle Fantasia is made up of 5 stages, these feature the usual mini boss and boss combination and should you hit certain requirements you can also get secret bosses.
The main mode of the game is Arcade, here you can select from the various difficulties of the game then progress through the stages in linear order. There is also a practise mode which allows you to choose any stage and really learn the enemy placement.
High Score Time.
Barrage Fantasia is a fantastic Shmup presented in a pseudo 8/16 bit style. It doesn’t feel quite as robust as other titles but certainly scratches that pick up and shoot itch. It is a tough little title and that really plays into the “One more go’ mentality of the genre and the fact you can’t Credit Abuse this one means you’ll be practicing till the cows come home to see the ending of this one.
Hanaji Games are finding a great niche at publishing these middle of the road, wallet friendly shmups, first Dezatopia, now Barrage Fantasia and we have Mecha Ritz on the horizon. I fully suggest Barrage Fantasia to any shmup fans and look forward to seeing all the high scores light up my Twitter feed!
Fantastic Shmup that harkens back to the handheld 16bit era
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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.