Switch version tested
Review code provided
Welcome to the 80’s – Black Paradox. Enter the Star Phoenix and light up your enemies while switching weapons and collecting upgrades. This neon ridden side-scrolling shmup is an approachable notch in the genres belt that I could recommend to those that think it’s an acquired taste of a category. Sit back in your future ride, enjoy the tunes, and start a run.
Admittedly, side-scrolling shmups are not my favourite but there is something to be said about Black Paradox that makes it stand out – the art style. Pixel perfect graphics paired with satisfying shots is a great way to start out a shoot’em up game. The game looks and feels good, man.
I love that points are collected as money instead, and that can be used to upgrade your DeLorean. It gives more purpose to the points than just bragging rights. Don’t get me wrong, I love leaderboards but this eliminates another collectable. Each game over will give the option to return to your garage to upgrade your ship. Car. We will stick with calling it a ship. There are two slots to add “chips” into that are the upgrades. Each has a unique perk that will give you an edge each run. They have and give a percentage of a chance for its perk to occur. For example, an early chip says “each shot has a 3% chance to shoot backwards too”. Take that concept and add in damage, shields, direction etc.
The background moves, there are small to medium enemies, and there is debris to shoot. That right there is a simple and great combination to make a great shmup. I’ve played others that have a photo background and it makes the game feel stale. Fight through waves of enemies and floating debris and end up at the boss. Explosions are awesome and the animations look so good. Slight screen shake gives a great effect without being annoying. I turned off the vibration as the sound was bothering me and my Wife playing her video game. I turned off the VHS effect and preferred that look.
Enemies will drop guns and you can hold up to two at a time. Swap between them using the trigger buttons. The frag gun KILLS it in zones littered with asteroids, highly recommended to keep that gun in those areas. It hits your target then explodes in all directions killing or destroying even more than originally targeted. Similarly, the Tesla gun will shoot off an electric charge that once lands, will spread the charge to surrounding enemies or objects. The swarm gun is great for hoards of enemies. There are plenty of other guns to randomly encounter.
Each boss defeated will grant an option of two power-ups which can be seen on the pause screen. That’s great and all, but some don’t give an explanation. This is a common occurrence in shmups I’ve seen but it doesn’t make it alright, it’s kind of annoying. There are no difficulty settings but if you have friends, there is co-op mode. Grind run after run to collect higher tier chips to do some of the heavy lifting. Each consecutive run will rack up that cheddar used for chips, so last longer and get all the shots off you possibly can. Once you’ve racked up enough dough, purchase a third and fourth chip holder for added effects. Each kill will move your special meter until its full and will give the option to unlock a buddy to help you. I usually save the friend for the boss fight if I can.
Don’t let the looks deceive you, as the game can be pretty tough. Loads of enemy fire can splinter off in every direction, enemies can fire backwards, there isn’t a dull moment to pass. The game snowballs in progression and it’s supposed to in a way that gives satisfaction each run. If you only lasted four minutes, upgrade your ship and try again. The end of each turn will give stats that include time taken and enemies defeated.
Defeating bosses is rewarding, shots are satisfying, and ease of movement is good. Progression may be slow but it means you can play the game for a while and customise upgrades as you go. Black Paradox took me by surprise as I initially had low expectations of the game, but it turned out to be a great game I would recommend my friends play.
TBG Score: 8/10
Allows Video Capture: Yes
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 03/05/2019
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Arcade, Platformer, Action
Developer: Fantastico Studio
Download link: eShop