Shutshimi: Seriously Swole is a once in a lifetime “cute ’em up” that draws on nostalgia without feeling like a wannabe.
If you’re in the market for a new shooter about a goldfish with extremely muscular human arms defending his home against a horde of unlikely underwater enemies, then Shutshimi: Seriously Swole from Neon Deity Games may just be the game for you. I had the chance to try out Shutshimi at PAX today and it immediately became one of the most memorable games I’ve put my hands on – not only this weekend, but quite possibly ever. Shutshimi feels and looks nostalgic, but the game uses it’s own unique personality instead of relying heavily on successful previously established retro features. On the surface, it resembles a classic shoot ’em up (or “cute ’em up,” according to the creators). However, the premise and gameplay are distinctly original. Shutshimi has a retro feel without stealing retro themes and ideas.
You assume the role of a hyper-masculine, cigar smoking goldfish with arms that would put Rizer and Bean to shame. You are defending your home waters against an army of mysterious invaders, including bears, pelicans, squids, reverse mer-men, and more. However, as a goldfish you are cursed with an extremely short attention span and will alternate between ten seconds of shooting and ten seconds of choosing one of three items, including weapons, special skills, or game-altering features, including an odd cycle that equips you with every weapon, then randomly swaps them in the middle of action. These extras will then be forgotten in ten seconds. Because, you know, you’re a goldfish. There are also over 30 different hats you can obtain, some of which unlock “hattributes” that modify gameplay even more. Shutshimi: Seriously Swole has a charmingly witty personality, as is evidenced just as much by the tutorial and item descriptions as by the art style and plot.
As the levels are only ten seconds long, the primary motivation isn’t level completion, but rather obtaining a high score. This can be done on a solo mission or with up to four players via local co-op (with the exception of the PlayStation Vita, which does not support this feature). The biggest challenge in the actual game isn’t the levels, but rather the time in between – when you’re forced to quickly decide on a power-up of which the item’s benefits (or challenges) are hidden in a short paragraph of text.
Despite being a seemingly silly concept, the game is no joke. Once the basic controls are mastered, serious strategies can be formed and multi-player competitions will become more intense. While Shutshimi is not a particularly challenging game when playing solo it has the very real potential of becoming a difficult and enjoyably stressful experience when you are playing with other players. In co-op, you can either play truly cooperatively or intentionally sabotage each other.
Shutshimi: Seriously Swole began as a game jam project made in under 24 hours, but the team loved the concept so much they decided to flesh it out into a full game, adding local co-op, crazy power-ups, cross save and Trophy support, and online leaderboards. The game was published by Choice Provisions, and is currently available on Steam, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita.