Hiding behind a Japanese title on the Xbox Indie Games Marketplace, Crescendo Symphony, as its called on the title screen, is a nicely styled bullet hell shooter from Japan. Unfortunately for me, its horizontally scrolling and I don’t get along well with these, preferring the vertical type. The first thing you notice about Crescendo Symphony is the excellent high resolution graphics. You play as a typically Japanese anime styled girl whose hitbox is ill-defined. The bullets have an excellent glow about them and the background is really detailed. Shame the background just repeats itself and the enemy sprites are used over and over. There are only two enemy sprites, a small one and a very large one. The enemy patterns are annoying as well (read hard). To make things worse, the same patterns repeat over and over. In addition, the game doesn’t feature auto-fire, however, when you don’t press the button a meter builds giving you a wider spread shot When you unleash it you get an annoying voice sample (which always makes me think I’ve got hit, despite playing this game a lot) and some really nice lighting effects on the background. I’m really impressed with that lighting effect. There is also a bomb which has a really really nice sweeping bullet pattern and a large anime graphic overlay. So far, so Japanese, so homemade (doujin) game. What sold this to me apart from the graphics is the excellent music. It seems they knew this and so titled the game in a musical fashion. Its very Japanese videogame music, huge happy guitars reminiscent of OutRun 2.
After a while of enemy pattern repetition, the music changes to a slightly more menacing song, still with the excellent guitar and new enemy patterns are introduced. These are even more annoying (read even harder) than before as enemies spawn right behind you. If you somehow make it through these patterns, which repeat far too many times, you eventually get to a boss. Here the game is more enjoyable in that you don’t have the annoying enemy patterns and can just enjoy the bullet dodging but is less enjoyable in that you don’t need the letting go of the button to build your sweep shot technique and so, without auto-fire, your figure gets tired of jabbing the button. Upon beating the boss, the game gives you an ending screen and then launches you into the next loop. Which is exactly the same, the difficulty isn’t increased and you get a full stock of lives and bombs. The only thing carried over is your score and a little loop counter.
A couple more things to note – the typical Japanese voice sample when you respawn (and bomb) and also the annoying way your ship (or rather, girl) can’t move fully to the edge of the screen. There is also no pause button.
Overall, Crescendo Symphony is worth trying out solely to check out the excellent music and to enjoy the Japanese stylings. However at 240 points is priced too highly when there are a lot of excellent 80 point games out there, especially given this game’s length, at only one level. I like the bullet dodging but not the enemy patterns and enjoy the spread shot mechanic. Overall, I’d give it two stars (out of five).