Bloody hell – Bullet hell! That’s precisely what Ghost Blade HD is, and if you’re a fan of dodging hazards on the screen like a pig in heat at the sausage factory, it might be a title to put on your wishlist.

Fun fact: the original Ghost Blade came out on The Best Console of All-Time™, the Sega Dreamcast – well after the official <sniff> death in 2001. Any Dreamcast fan will know that the homebrew scene had been alive and well, but this title came out in 2015!

Reissued as Ghost Blade HD, it was available in 2017 on the PS4, Xbox One and the illustrious Wii U. If it was on the Wii U, then it was bound to be released on the Switch. Spoiler alert: Ghost Blade HD is available on the Switch, from Eastasiasoft.

Ghost Blade HD - Shoot
Softly, softly, shooty, shooty

In A Far Away Galaxy…

The story in these games never really matter, and Ghost Blade HD is no exception. In summary, an AI known as Shira was built to protect the residents of Mars some 10,000 years ago. Shira goes rogue and becomes ‘Evil Shira’, and the Earth Defence Force Fleet send three scantily clad ladies to defeat it.

Ghost Blade HD is a vertical shooter, which in Elvish means top-down shooter. Like the classic arcade-like games 1941Star SoldierXenon 2 or TwinBee, you control a ship that moves from left to right, continually scrolling up.

The purpose of the game is to shoot everything in sight, accumulating a massive score and saving the universe. Forget the last one; they can save themselves – you need to build up a decent sequence of numbers that you can show off to mates, people you don’t like and want to make jealous, or online strangers. 

Just remember not to respond to a/s/l.

Bullet Dodger

A typical strategy is to learn the patterns of the attackers and the projectiles so you can evade them. This sounds like a no-brainer, but looking at the screenshots, you’ll find that there’s not much room for error when there’s so much on screen.

However, Ghost Blade HD is one of the more accessible bullet hell games, mostly due to the realistic difficulty settings. There’s easy, medium and hard, and they play out accordingly as per the selection – unlike other games of this ilk that are bloody hard, even on easy.

Ghost Blade HD - Circle of life
Based on an Elton John song (Circle of Life)

As is pretty standard in this genre, there aren’t any problematic moves to learn as you have two types of fire: one that sprays the screen like a clogged up skunk; the A button, and the other is a focused stream that shoots straight – the Y button. Squirrel away enough of them, and you can press the A button for a bomb that will wipe out practically everything on the screen.

Filling In The Empty Space

Ghost Blade HD is an easy game, and you can expect to complete a complete run-through of the five levels in about 30 minutes. There’s still a good range of options other than the solo play: co-op play, a training mode that is the full game without the fear of a game over, plus a score attack mode where you can’t adjust the difficulty.

The modes are as follows:

  • 1-Player Mode
  • 2-Player Mode (co-op)
  • Training Mode
  • Score Attack
  • Leaderboards
  • Achievements

Coming back to the score side of things, getting a hi-score is arguably one of the main incentives for repeat plays, that is unless you actually like Ghost Blade HD and play it because you enjoy it so much. There’s an online leaderboard to share these or to find out what the benchmark is – much like the rather excellent Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo.

At the end of each stage is a not-so-memorable boss. Depending on what difficulty you’re flirting with, these areas are over at a reasonable pace without dragging out too much, nor being particularly unreasonable either.

In Space, Nobody Needs To Scream

Ghost Blade HD isn’t a complete piece of cake, but in comparison to similar titles, it’s much easier. It does have the classic mechanics of having so many lives and continues, run out of continues then it’s game over, plus the typical anti-climatic endings that are dismissive of your commitment to the game.

Ghost Blade HD - Boss
Big Boss

Of the three characters to choose from, they may have their own abilities, but other than the green ship being subtly faster, I didn’t pay much attention and just went for the colour I prefered more. Cosmetics do play a part here as from the pause menu; you can change the position of your HUD, change the way the explosions handle, adjust the appearance of the tech orbs (that boost your hi-score prowess) and customise the controls. Ghost Blade HD really is catered to a broad audience.

There’s the option to change the wallpaper on either side of the screen, as the screen setup is that of a traditional vertical scroller, so no black borders. Overall though, Ghost Blade HD is a well-presented shooter, but don’t expect anything new, per se. One thing I hasten to add is the addition of in-game achievements, though to unlock the majority of them, you only have to show up.

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