I didn’t really know what to expect from Shutshimi: Seriously Swole when I booted it up; I had seen some of the gameplay trailers (and my interest had been piqued), but I also didn’t think its simple gameplay structure would hold my attention for very long.

I was wrong.

Shutshimi has you take control of one of five fish in an effort to fight off the invaders of your homeland. This is the only story that you are given, and the rest of the game is pure gameplay. While I enjoy stories very much in video games (they are the primary reason I buy games), something can be said for the act of just going around killing these monsters as a goldfish – and I ended up loving it!

The game is all over the place in the best possible way, and you can tell that the developers really loved making it; putting tons of effort into making it the game they envisioned in their childhood. The main goal of the game is to rack up as many points as possible, by surviving as long as possible.

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The gameplay of Shutshimi is simple; you choose your goldfish from five different colored fish with different stats (the stats don’t really mean anything and are usually quirky random qualities that change for each fish on each playthrough), then you begin your rounds. The rounds last around ten seconds – at which point you’re given three random “loot” drops that can either augment or diminish your chances of surviving the next round. On top of that, the items have varying texts that may or may not give you a hint as to what they do; so you’re really gonna have to memorize what each one does as you clock in the hours.

Some of the items are awesome and have really cool references, a lot of them particularly referring to anime like Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon. They’re bound to give you a good chuckle when you come across the crazy ones too, like a bounce house or a disco. It’s absurd, but I loved the hodgepodge of silliness and references.

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If you haven’t figured it out yet, Shutshimi is a game where you have to think and decide what you’re going to do quickly. There are always a few rounds before you encounter a boss, each with its own fighting style and (as usual), you have ten seconds. However, if you don’t defeat the boss, you will play through a few more rounds until it returns.

That said, a word to the wise;f you’re looking to max out the high score on the seriously swole bicep in the lower right, you’ll need to defeat him on first encounter – something easier said than done!

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This shoot’em up is very hard to beat. There are a handful of bosses in the game and making it through to the final one is a worthy challenge – something I only did once in my playthroughs, and I wasn’t even able to beat it. I loved the challenge though, and continued coming back for more.

There’s even a few modes for the more hardcore players.

You can play the game’s Hardcore mode, where you only get one life (as opposed to the three in Normal mode) – meaning you’re going to have to be even more decisive and quick than you are when playing in Normal mode.

Then there is Boss Rush, my personal favorite mode. You are also given one life and you skip over the hoards of enemies in favor of just fighting the bosses one after the other. With its absent story, it was one of the game modes I turned to while sitting and watching television. I could focus on both and really enjoy my time.

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Shutshimi is cross-buy with the PlayStation 4 version, and I decided to give it a shot as well to see how it held up. I was disappointed to see that Vita had gotten some things cut from its version, primarily being co-op. While it’s couch co-op on the PS4, and not possible on Vita for obvious reasons, I would have liked to see some sort of online co-op available. It would have made the game more easily accessible to those that aren’t as good, and would have just made it easier to unlock the modes I mentioned above. To me, it was a real missed opportunity and I hope that we see it patched in some point in the future – but that isn’t enough of a reason not to look into this game in my opinion.

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Looking to the soundtrack, it’s stellar and features countless songs for your long sessions with the game, – every level having a different random song. There are some letdowns though; the songs only last ten seconds because that’s how long the rounds last. However, there are some items that can cause the time spent on that particular round to be shorter or longer. The soundtrack speeds up when it is shorter, but it plays the normal ten seconds when it is longer – leaving you with about five or so seconds of awkward silence. Maybe the developer didn’t think about this, but it took me out of the experience and I really wish they had just made the soundtrack slower to give a sense of it taking forever.

Despite this blemish, the soundtrack is amazing, giving a 64-bit era feel that compliments the game’s equally retro-eque graphics, which may not be the prettiest thing you’ll see on you Vita, but it certainly isn’t the worst.

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Overall, I enjoyed my time with Shutshimi: Seriously Swole. The game is so over-the-top and ridiculous that I couldn’t believe it existed. The bottom line is that, despite some of its flaws and missing features, it’s a good game, and it’s perfect for just relaxing on the couch and playing in your downtime.

That said, once beaten, I don’t foresee anyone returning very often to continue defending this goldfish’s homeland.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Presentation
Gameplay
Lasting Appeal
Execution
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Zach is a 23-year-old college student studying journalism. Originally buying the Vita to play Persona 4 Golden, he thoroughly enjoys the loads of other gems on the handheld. Outside of games, he is a big soccer and One Piece fan.