Rise & Shine

A game by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team for PC, Linux, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2017.
Rise & Shine is a shooter starring a young boy named Rise and his legendary talking pistol named… you guessed it: Shine. The adventure takes place on Gamearth, a planet built entirely around video games, with non-copyright-infringing caricatures of popular figures appearing throughout, including numerous Nintendo-owned characters and some representatives from the early arcade era. Gamearth has come under attack by Space Grunts from planet Nexgen who have begun wreaking destruction upon the city.

Rise is out at the local shopping mall when a pair of warriors tumbles through the ceiling, battling it out before his eyes. One is a Space Grunt, and the other is a stand-in for Link from The Legend of Zelda, except that he is wearing a blue tunic and wielding a giant handgun. The Hylian champion and the Space Grunt fire their weapons at the same time, with the grunt’s head being blown into a spray of gore, while the Hero of Time takes one in the gut. As he lay dying, not-Link hands the gun to Rise and explains that he needs to use it to save the world… and it also grants him infinite respawns.

Much of Gamearth has been reduced to rubble, leaving behind an uneven landscape patrolled by hovering robots and interspersed with statues honoring various video game characters, and business names that spoof popular games as well. The mall in the opening scene is filled with shops that reference other video game characters, with stores like Bleszinski’s Chainsaws, Chozo’s Armor, Celda’s Place, and Lara’s Fashion. Later in the game, players discover that Rise’s father is none other than Grunty McGrunterson from the Gears of War series. (Ed note: we're almost positive that's his name.)

To battle the baddies, Rise has only a short 1x nonvariable jump, a double jump, and a dash, along with his pistol/companion which can deliver 10 shots before needing to be reloaded. Unlike most shooters where the player simply picks a direction and fires, this game requires the player to hold one button to pull out the weapon, which must then be manually aimed with the mouse or control stick, and then a separate button to actually fire the weapon. This greatly slows the pace of the game, and physically slows Rise as his movement speed is reduced whenever he draws his sidearm.

The trouble is, enemies are small and move quickly, and they can unleash a flurry of projectiles, meaning that the player must be able to dodge and return fire quickly, which is difficult given the 3-step process required for shooting… which is the game’s primary mechanic. And, while Rise does have a life bar, it is drained very quickly, and there are numerous attacks that can kill him instantly – especially during boss encounters – which exacerbates the issues arising from the nontraditional control scheme.

But things continue to grow more complex … Once the player learns to aim and shoot with his basic bullets, he begins unlocking new abilities for his weapon. First, the player unlocks radio-controlled bullets, which modify his regular bullets. Then he earns electrical bullets that can be shot like regular bullets or combined with the radio control function. Finally, he earns explosives, which are also considered a modifier and can be used in combination with the other projectile types but not in combination with the radio control function.

For most basic enemies, regular bullets are fine, but when dealing with bosses, players must alternate between bullet types and modifiers. In a typical boss encounter, players need to hold one button to pull out the weapon, use another command to aim, press another button to fire, then press a different button to switch between regular bullets and electrical bullets to hit special weak points, and then press yet another button to alternate between regular fire and radio-controlled bullets to hit a different exposed weak point.

While players are mashing their way through the octopussian controls to alternate firing types, regular enemies are entering the screen and firing, requiring players to focus their attention on hitting small mobile foes, shooting enemy bullets out of the sky, and dodging incoming insta-death attacks from bosses, which may require putting the gun away in order to return to full speed movement. Many boss battles are lengthy multi-phase affairs, and getting killed means beginning the battles anew.

There is nothing in the game’s core design that necessitates the operation of five successive controls for shooting a gun, nor penalizing the player with slower movement speed while doing so. Most shooters reduce these sorts of controls to selectable weapons and firing in the direction of player movement (2 controls), or free aim that auto-fires on aim (2 controls), or free aim that requires a trigger pull (3 controls).

That said, there are a number of puzzle sections where players must alternate between firing types to hit distant triggers that open doors and operate elevators. However, these take place entirely outside of combat, so selecting between projectiles and modifiers does not reduce the player’s ability to deal with the challenges in the environment, thus allowing plenty of time to experiment with these options without fear of being demolished by enemies.

The cumbersome nature of selecting and firing weapons aside, the different bullet types do open up a number of unique gameplay possibilities. The electrical bullets are the most basic, allowing players to charge up electrical cores to restore power to electronics, or to stun robotic enemies. Radio controlled bullets are used in a number of slow motion puzzles where players must navigate the tiny projectile around obstacles in order to hit distant switches… or line up a perfect headshot on a powerful foe before ramping the bullet back up to full speed.

Explosives are fired in an arc to hit shielded enemies, and fully charging this weapon activates sticky mines. In either case, these projectiles must be manually detonated. However, the player can only fire one explosive at a time before reloading, and the character does not auto-reload unless the player specifically taps the FIRE button or the RELOAD button. This means that players may overshoot a target, manually detonate the charge in order to fire again, and find that Rise is only just now reloading the weapon that was otherwise not in use. The same rule applies to the standard gun, which doesn’t auto-reload when the magazine is empty; rather, it auto-reloads when the player attempts to fire the empty weapon.

Rise occupies a small percentage of screen real estate and is not terribly mobile, making it difficult to dodge some attacks. Additionally, the visuals – which are filled to the brim with detail – are also a bit crowded, occasionally making it difficult to parse all of the incoming dangers until it is too late. Obstacles like popup mines are generally only discovered as they explode in the player’s face, as the object-packed environment makes them practically invisible.

Some enemies can move in on the player quickly and require multiple hits to destroy, so if the player fails to notice these enemies approaching or finds himself reloading at an inopportune time, they will fry him for an instant kill. It is possible to take cover behind some objects (apparently planet Nexgen has had some influence on Gamearth) to protect yourself from weak attacks, occasionally popping out to take potshots at enemies. However, strong attacks and insta-kill electrical attacks will still take you down when behind cover.

Throughout the game, the player encounters treasure chests, each of which allows him to carry one additional bullet in his magazine. Some of these are found during the regular course of the game, but others are in hard-to-reach areas. Enterprising players may also discover some hidden bonus items typically seen in older Konami games.

Gameplay largely consists of slow movement across open fields filled with patrolling robots, intermixed with some projectile-based puzzles. However, things are occasionally changed up, such as sending the player through subterranean passages infested by zombies that can be killed with headshots, a forced scrolling shmup section, and a town full of NPC’s that offer minigames to play in exchange for rewards.

Rise & Shine was developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, or Super Mega Team for short, comprised of Enrique Corts, Mar Hernández, Adrián Ramis, and Julio Ruiz. Music for the game was composed by Damián Sánchez. The team went on to develop The Knight Witch.

The game was published by Adult Swim Games, which is responsible for publishing a number of 2D action games, including Super House of Dead Ninjas, Völgarr the Viking, Fist Puncher, Super Comboman, Oblitus, Westerado: Double Barreled, Rain World, and Death's Gambit.