Graceful Explosion Machine stands out on the PAX East showfloor. It’s bright, a mix of pink, purple and yellow and it’s a Nintendo Switch exclusive. Its aesthetic is unique, sure, but that platform exclusivity makes it stand out that much more.
It’s a 2D SHMUP, and you’ll control a ship with four earned weapons. There are missiles, a rapid fire bullet, a laser beam and this interesting energy sword. Each requires fuel to fire, and fuel is earned by killing enemies. In order to string up those badass weapons in unique combos, you need to rip your way through enemies while collecting the gems they drop.
The shooting and flight occurs on a 2D plane, and you’ll cruise from right to left in a single space per level. With a press of the left trigger, you’ll flip your ship’s guns. You can fly in any direction at any time, but you can only shoot where your gun is pointed. That means you’ll need to swing and spin in order to land hits on enemies.
The combo system builds up as you light up enemies, consume gems for weapon fuel and chain together kills over multiple weapon types, and you’ll be hit with a rank. I thought I was cool with an A-rank on my first flight, but then I learned there’s not only an S but and S+. I’m still a noob here.
Then there’s this bizarre emoji system. On the bottom left corner of the screen, you’ll notice there’s a constantly changing emoji. Depending on your actions, the emoji goes nuts with sparkles or smiley faces. It couples beautifully with the feel and sound of the game, and it sort of layers on top of the already dynamic look.
The personality here is pure pink bubblegum pop… that reaches back and slaps you in the face with tight, bullet hell moments that call out to the SHMUP standard.
The Nintendo Switch has an interesting shooter with Graceful Explosion Machine. It’s due in April, though they haven’t settled on a price yet. I was told, with a laugh, that it wouldn’t be $80. Well, that’s good news.
If you’re a Switch owner with a love of SHMUPS, you’ll want to check this one out.