Spooky Spirit Shooting Gallery: Old school fun is still a modern-day hit
- Developer:Nippon Columbia
- Publisher: Aksys Games
- Release date: 27th April 2023
- Genre: Arcade Party Shooter
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Spooky Spirit Shooting Gallery Review
There is always a place in today’s world for games that allow you just to kick back and be goofy without overthinking. Spooky Spirit Shooting Gallery from Aksys Games is one such kickback and giggle game.
There really isn’t much depth to what you have to do in this colourful and exciting-looking game, apart from shoot, shoot, and shoot some more! The first thing that struck me from the moment I fired up the game is that the colourful visuals and production values are on par with the excellent Taiko no Tatsujin series. Indeed the opening soundtrack had a percussion beat so in line with the game I initially thought it was, and this is reinforced when you press a button to begin, as you get the same drum beat too!
The game has two main options from the menu screen: Carnival Mode and Party Mode. Carnival mode recreates the gallery game found in Japanese festivals and allows for solo play or for up to three to play together. Just like an arcade game though, to play here requires credits. Each target lined up in the stall has a credit value and knocking it over will then grant you that value. However, some items are heavier than others, and require more force than the basic cork bullets you generally play, so you’ll need different ammo (that costs more credits per round).
There is a delicious balance when trying to win a high-value prize, as you don’t want to use too many bullets to get it. This made me be a little more careful with my aim so as to not run out of credits too quickly. The actual art of firing is very simple, simply aim the reticle of your gun located at one of three stationary positions and shoot. If you get lost a simple press of the Y button resets your reticle to the middle of the screen.
Although the game only allows you to fire from one position, the excitement of working together with a friend on the same level was palpable. Shouting out targets and working as a team with your friends to knock over a high-value target was a lot of fun. It can be fast and frenetic stuff, as some targets only stay within sight for brief moments, but the satisfaction of getting what you were after, complete with an energetic soundbite, was intoxicating, keeping us blasting away and spending those credits!
The stalls themselves have moving targets and lots of interesting things to aim for, ranging from statues of Mount Fuji to boxes of sweets, and hidden amongst these will be collectables and spirits. The beauty of the game in carnival mode was that if you persist and locate enough spirits hidden away before your credits run out, you can then unlock a boss fight level. This was a highlight of the game. You will be tasked with a few levels of challenges which, if completed in time, will allow you to then face the Boss. It was fast and frenetic stuff, blasting away with as much accuracy as possible, watching a timer go down; sweating on if I could complete the tasks in time with the ammo I had left. However, the sense of relief when the first boss was defeated (and there is more than one) was tangible. Then the rewards started to ring up, which made all the effort worthwhile.
Although the act of playing the game is quite simple, it’s also hilarious thanks to the many sound effects. Cries of encouragement (albeit only voiced in Japanese) and the tinkle of credits joining your account from fallen items prove to be an audible motivator, and the ping of hitting targets made of china or glass was very authentic. There is a lot of visual energy and excitement too, especially when a huge tower of goodies falls over. That sense of achievement encourages more chaos and adrenaline to keep going for more loot!
Also included within the Carnival mode are Missions. This is another place where you can gain credits by completing in-game tasks for rewards. For example, playing Carnival Mode 15 times will grant you 300 credits. I found that without trying too hard it was very easy to rack up the completion of multiple missions to give me a decent amount of credits in return for simply playing the game.
The main screen also has Auntie’s Shop, Figure Collection, and Spirit Stairway Challenge. Any hard-earned credits can be spent at Auntie’s shop. In this shop, you have the option of buying toy capsules for collectable items or Mini Game Keys. It’s wise to spend the money on Mini Games first as this opens up more gameplay options in the excellent party mode. Indeed, Spirit Stairway Challenge can only be unlocked after you have purchased all of the mini-games. This is a simple but very fun section of challenges of the same game types in party mode, that get harder the higher you go, but then the rewards increase too.
Party mode sets up a competitive series of 1,3,5 or 7 games for you to compete with friends in co-op or against each other in versus mode. When you have decided on the number of rounds you can get to choose which of the Party games to play. Some Party Mode games are very much like the main carnival mode, where you are just shooting everything off the shelves, but there are many more that are completely different. These can range from trying to keep a football up off the ground for a set amount of time, to trying to launch items off a table to see how far they can go down a golf range.
One of my personal favourites was the level called “Shocking! Electrifying Laser Gun”. The aim of this level was to target floating ghosts/spirits with your laser beams and pin them down with enough hits to evaporate them. Clearly inspired by Ghostbusters (but legally distinct), the graphics of your beams heightened the thrill as, just as with the film, even when pointing the lasers in a straight direction, the beam wavered all over like a thrashing snake! The effects were completed with flying sparks, and stray tendrils of electricity too. If only there was a trap set up beneath them, then you really would have felt like you were “Bustin’ Ghosts”.
The joy to be found here was that whilst some of the shooting games test your speed and accuracy, there were other games that had a much slower pace but were equally as much fun. Each mode had that hook to it that made you feel like having just one more go to get a better score than before.
As the game is aimed at a family and younger audience there isn’t a whole lot of thought needed to play it. It’s all very simplistic fun, which leads to many exciting moments when playing in versus mode with friends and family but can be quite stale to play on your own for long periods.
Spooky Spirits Shooting Gallery is an eminently playable game, even if only for a few minutes at a time. The only real sticking point of the game is its price. Direct from the Aksys Games’ website, the game is £30.83 or $39.99 on the Nintendo store. This seems a bit pricey for the amount of content the game actually has – it would be much easier to recommend if the pricing represented the amount of content on offer.
Spooky Spirit Shooting Gallery is an excellent and, importantly, fun party shooter game, with a good amount of variety. It has bright and colourful graphics, excellent music, and simple gameplay spanning many different levels, but I have concerns about the longevity and replayability. Party Mode is the best aspect of the game, but even that is not something that will have players sitting for hours on end. If you want to spend some time with some simple senseless arcade shooter fun, this really does hit the button, however, it’s a little expensive for what you are getting, despite the excellent production values.