A little late to the party, here’s my Shing! review based on the PlayStation 4 version, kindly supplied to me by elves. That’s not true; they were yokai.
Shing! is a side-scrolling beat ’em up with a twist (of the right analogue stick) as the fighting is a little unnatural in its approach, but in practice, is pretty intuitive and a bit refreshing to button mashing.
It’s nice to be in a position where there are so many games to review at the moment, knowing which ones are out is a problem I’m not too phased about having. Nevertheless, Shing! is a game already out, so I think it’s time for a review!
Pick from four not so anonymous ninjas and prepare for a hack and slash adventure of… hacking and slashing. Set somewhere in Asia with many bothersome yokai, Shing!, a game from Mass Creation who did Corridor Z, has players attacking with the right stick rather than buttons.
The introduction of using the right stick for attacks isn’t a brand new one, but it certainly hasn’t been overused and within minutes got to grips with how to play the game. While it should deviate away from button-mashing, I did get to the stage where I was waggling the stick as if playing a round of Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. Ask your dad, but don’t ask about the joystick.
For the lesser enemies, you can get away with joystick slapping like a teenager in heat when his parents are out, but throughout the game are challenges that will unlock new skins and this means a tad bit of skill.
One of the first challenges was juggling an enemy ten times in a row. Stuck in a rut of slapping the right stick about, for the first attempt I’d killed everyone, the second try I only got to seven times. The third I accidentally swapped to another character and completed it straight away.
Though it wasn’t mandatory, I couldn’t not finish it so would have been there until I’d had it done. No leaving the table until you’ve finished your greens.
Bring A Bottle, Bring A Friend
Up to four players can jump in, but if you lack the friends, you can play all four characters using the d-pad to select them on the fly, swapping out the current one.
Alas, despite appearing to be different on the surface, skin deep, they mostly played the same – one character only fractionally more agile than another, the slower beefcake seemingly packing more of a punch than the rest.
The most significant benefit of playing all four characters in solo (I have lots of friends, really), is you can stay in the game longer as they don’t share the same health bar. You’re given three additional lifelines.
Regardless, all four are involved in the dialogue – some more than others, and for the first two stages, I played as the default character without realising the swapping feature. Read that as me being a dope, or dope as I was so good, I could handle the demons on my own. Hint: the first one.
Their move sets do look different, but as mentioned, they’re very similar. That didn’t bother me though – there were different skins to unlock, and as fickle as it sounds, that keeps me invested in a game, even if only for a brief time.
The dialogue won’t be for everyone, but I wasn’t taking this as a serious piece. Some of the quips were pretty amusing, notably some of the NPCs and voice talents. It won’t be winning any awards but far better acted than a lot of similar side-scrollers in the genre.
There’s always a bit of a mix between Chinese and Japanese culture in these sort of games, and while there’s a bit of Japanese terminology, the different histories are fused a bit. For fellow martial artists, it’s like when people refer to all martial arts as either karate or kung fu. There is a difference. A huge pachyderm difference.
However, if you want realism, you’re playing the wrong title. I’ve got this in perspective and awareness of what was in front of me: a side-scrolling beat ’em up that allows Billy-No-Mates to play a team of roughnecks on their own, or charge someone else within the household with the task of picking up a controller and playing.
If you want a really great side-scrolling beat ’em up, then I recommend Streets of Rage 4 on either the PS4 or Switch. Alternatively, pay through your teeth for a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and buy the second and third ones.
I liked that aspect of being able to control all characters – great for reviewing the game, just a bit of a shame that the characters weren’t that different. Something a little different was the control system, and admittedly, I liked the idea of aiming the stick downwards to the oni on the floor or upwards to attack a double, if not third chin of a boss.
Be warned that Shing! is quite a challenging game, though. Most of the lesser enemies are manageable, but you can get swarmed by them – if only three or four at a time, and if one of them has a projectile, expect to be on the receiving act of a juggling combo.
Bosses too are tough, and I could probably admit to fighting each boss at least two or three times until I could beat them with whatever environmental trick was to hand, or elementally-infused enemy who could grant the power of the demi-god himself, Raiden.
Overall then, Shing! is a fun beat ’em up, but the initial USP of a right stick used for fighting and shoulder buttons for dashes, blocks and what-not soon disappeared into classic button-mashing (joystick slapping!) and achy digits. I did like being able to control all characters, even if they were similar in motion.