My undying love for shmups is something that longtime readers of the site may have noticed a few times already. I’ve been shot at, shot up more enemies and played more shoot-em-ups than I can remember. And now along comes Pawarumi, an Colombian-neofuturistic shmup with a twist.
The Colombian element is clear from the get-go. Players fly a futuristic spacecraft resembling a Mayan rune, through waves and waves of enemies, also styled with striking Aztec imagery. The plot here (those who came for shmupping may skip this part) is that you are Axo, pilot of the Chukaru, the most powerful vessel in the world. The ship is equipped with three weapons gifted to you by the gods themselves. With them you must… erm… You must…
Look, I didn’t pay attention, OK? The point is: you use these weapons to blow everything to smithereens.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
That twist I was talking about earlier? It’s all in the weapons. Youve got a powerful laserbeam, a gatling and heatseeker missiles. You can switch between them with the push of a button. Each has a specific color (blue, red and green) as do the enemies and herein lies the brilliance. Shooting an enemy with its corresponding color strenghtens your shields, but also the enemies attacks. Using the opposite color (green beats red, red beats blue, blue beats green) doubles the damage you deal and reversing the circle charges up your super attack, which is a combination of all three weapons.
It takes a while to get the colormechanic in my head, but all the while I’m having a blast. The game is visually really stunning and plays very smoothly. Getting the right combination and seeing my supermeter fill up excites me to no end.
The only thing raining on my parade is the very same twist that deserves said parade: the color mechanic. It might be just me, but it kinda takes separate brains to play Pawarumi as intended. One brain for shmup, one for keeping an eye on the enemy’s color, one for remembering which color suits best and yet another one for tactically decisions. There’s a lot going on, and it just dampened my excitement just that little bit…
Hardcore shmup fans might be swayed by trying Pawarumi because of its refreshing colorcoded mechanic, but I fear newbies to the genre might be put off by the overwelming need to switch between colors. I’m torn on this one… Buy it, try the mechanic, and if not to your liking, still blast away?