Ghost Blade HD, nothing fancy, just bullets

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I’ll try any shoot ’em game you throw at me. I love ’em.

Unfortunately, the genre lives under the shadow of great shmups that date back some 20 years. Yeah, those shooters are great (and still great) but their legacy makes it difficult to get noticed if you’re making a new shmup title.

I saw Ghost Blade HD promoted on Twitter and at first glance, it looked like everything you want in a shooter: spaceships, lots of bullets and bright colors. Ghost Blade HD checks all the boxes to make a shmup. In some ways that’s great, and in others it’s not so great.

Ghost Blade HD

You can hold a shot of Ghost Blade HD next to any classic like Dodonpachi, Gigawing and so on, and it fits right in. But modern shmups always try to gimmick up their game with new features or new mechanics. I’m a sucker for a shmup with something new to offer, even if it’s a minor thing. Unfortunately, Ghost Blade HD doesn’t deliver much in way of innovation but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in familiarity and difficulty.

You start by picking one of three ships, piloted by a big-breasted girl, of course, and then you’re on your way. Like games past, each ship has its own traits that make it bad and good. From there you just dodge and shoot – par for the course.

Part of what I love about shmups are the patterns. Maybe it’s my OCD or something, but the bullet patterns are the challenge. It’s not a game of shooting, it’s a game of dodging. However, often I felt that Ghost Blade HD took a little liberties by seemingly leaving the patterns behind. They call it “bullet hell” for a reason, I know, but it’s also about organized chaos. Sometimes this game crosses that line. But it’s not a deal breaker by any means.

The difficulty here is pretty high, even on Normal mode. It definitely finds a good balance between just blindly shooting and having to dodge and use your bombs smartly. Ghost Blade will give you a run for your money, especially once you hit around level 3 or 4. I haven’t even tried Hard mode yet.

Ghost Blade HD also offers a 2-player mode and a score attack, which I always enjoy. This score attack is a single level with infinite lives. It’s fun but I’m more partial to the challenge mode style attacks that are timed. Having a 2-minute and 5-minute challenge mode would have been nice.

If you’re looking for a shoot ’em up that feels familiar, then Ghost Blade HD is definitely worth the $10 entry fee. It’s a good game and challenging game. It falls in line with all the rest you still play from the 1990s, and I guess that’s pretty good company to be in. There’s nothing fancy here…no weird theme or anime children flying on broomsticks. Just lots of pink bullets, explosions and giant star coins.

I played Ghost Blade HD on my PS4 but it’s available on Steam, WiiU and XBbox One for $10 as well. So warm up your thumbs and try to beat my scores…just look for Morning_Toast.

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Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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