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Back in the mid-90s, I was a die-hard Robotech fan. It was one of the few cartoons that aired on TV at the time, and in an era where two episodes of cartoons on VHS often cost $35, it was amazing to have such a long and complex series. let’s see. Of course, as I grew up, I learned about both the original Macross anime and its various sequels—and read them voraciously, too.
Soon after, I did everything I could to get more Macross and finally played my first Macross game, the side-scrolling shooter, Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie for the Super Famicom. Having spent time working on the upcoming Macross: Shooting Insight, I can say this is both a love letter to Scrambled Valkyrie (not to mention the rest of Macross’s long history of SHMUP games) and the Macross series as a whole.
In general, there are two types of SHMUP games: side-scrolling games and top-down shooters. Macross: Shooting Insight is both. In the short demo I played, the first half of the level was side-scrolling and the second half—including the level’s boss fight—was top-down. While this is pretty much the fair standard for these types of games—you know, shooting endless bullets and missiles while dodging every bullet that comes your way—there are some aspects that stray a bit from the stereotype .
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In most classic SHMUPs, your bullets always fire at the same angle regardless of your movement. However, in Macross: Shooting Insight, when in Valkyrie mode, bullets will be forced in the direction your plane’s nose is pointing. So, for example, in top-down mode, if you turn left or right, your Valkyrie’s nose will naturally go in that direction, changing your shooting angle significantly. In other words, if you want to shoot straight ahead, you need to stop moving—making you an easy target. So you need to know where to place your Valkyrie so that when you dodge or enemies move, you can keep the constant stream of bullets hitting them. It adds a welcome layer of complexity to the usual formula.
But, of course, the main thing that makes Macross: Shooting Insight special is the IP. Not only are there silent cutscenes where characters from the Macross timeline interact with each other, but there’s also a musical element. In the demo I tried, playing well resulted in an impromptu Fire Bomber concert—allowing me to slaughter enemies with some great ’90s J-Rock.
While I only spent a few minutes with Macross: Shooting Insight, it feels like a solid SHMUP filled with service for Macross fans. I can’t wait to play the full game when it launches early next year.
Macross: Shooting Insight will be released on January 25, 2024, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.