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M.Knight

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A member registered Mar 28, 2018 · View creator page →

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Hi!

I was randomly looking around in itch.io's shmup list and came across this game, and my curiosity led me to trying it out, first on the Web version and then the downloadable executable.

Boy am I glad I did! It's really fun and very promising.

The playstyle featured in Celestial Crusaders ticks many of my boxes when it comes to shmups, and that makes it very enjoyable to play.

The game's frantic pace seems overwhelming at first but once you learn the enemy behaviors, it feels just right. The fact that the game does not beat around the bush before throwing fast-paced waves might be a bit too much for a shmup beginner but I am pretty comfortable with it. The patterns are also rather fast and not too dense, which is quite exciting. The boss's harder version in the Dangerous difficulty for example is a big thrill.

Being able to use your bomb so often and having to use it to boost your scores is also something I appreciate a lot. The grazing required to recharge it faster works well with the streams of aimed shots the enemies fire at you, so it feels pretty natural to quickly recharge the bomb and throw it as often as possible. This gives the game a good sense of pacing, with a fast game loop and short stage portions that never overstay their welcome.

Underneath are the few other comments I have and that are more specific. There are still some tweaks and adjustments I feel can improve the game, which makes sense since it is an early version :

- The enemy death voices are a bit cheesy and don't fit the aesthetic. This is especially noticeable with the balloon enemy, whereas you can get used to the spikeball's more subduded voice.

- On the other hand, Luna's little voice clips are great!

- What is the cube color/hit number hierarchy? It seems to go from yellow to green to gold to light green, which doesn't seem like a natural progression. Green could be a starting color and then it can go towards copper and gold.

- The penalty for dying is way too big at the moment and it creates huge score gaps between a one-life run and runs with just one death midway through. Decreasing the hit counter by 90% is almost the same as completely resetting it and given how the counter is multiplied during the bonus rounds, the differences are tremendously increased. The way some of the score bonuses are given at the end of a round also mean you will gain sudden and massive score boosts when one-lifing the bonus sections instead of having a more gradual score progression.

While it makes sense to punish the player for dying, I think the current penalty only makes scoring potentially more restart-prone in the long run. If there is no chance at beating your previous score if you died just once it's better to just restart as soon as you do a mistake, which isn't that unlikely to happen given the game's bullet speed. In the end, you'll want the ideal run to be a 1-life anyway, but if dying doesn't force you to instantly restart unless you are going for the absolute top scores, then it would make players' score progression curve more pleasant IMO.

- I like the idea of a bonus round with some additionnal score potential, though the way it is implemented now also contribute a lot to the death penalties' harshness. Not only you have to one-life the regular section, but you also have to do the same with the harder bonus section otherwise tons of potential points are lost. On top of that, it means a run with all the bonus stages completed will last twice as long as one without any. That's not necessarily an issue in itself but you have to take it into account when deciding on the regular sections' length. As for the bosses, it also feels odd to have to fight them twice in a row but to be honest I found the plane boss' comeback lots of fun to play against. Maybe against longer bosses later on, it may start feeling like a chore though, so maybe the bonus phases can feature new exclusive patterns instead of a harder repeat of the already cleared phases?

-The rotor fan enemy fires white rays in front of him that could easily be interepreted as dangerous but they are thankfully harmless.

- There is a wave at the beginning of Section 3 that is guaranteed to kill you the first time around because the enemies spawn at the very left of the screen and if you don't know you have to stay on the left edge of the screen to kill them you'll get hit. I would remove this specific wave though I admit it actually isn't a big deal once you know it is coming.

-The sections' difficulty levels are not gradual. Aside from the aforementioned wave, Section 3 seems to be the easiest due to its predominance of balloon enemies that don't force you to always move to avoid aimed bullets. In comparison the first section seems a lot more demanding reflex-wise and you can't afford to stay in safe zones for as long because there are plenty of spikeball enemies

- The diagonals aren't normalized. That means you add the vertical and horizontal speed when moving diagonally which makes you move faster actually.

- The rankings should be divided by difficulty level. Scores made in different difficulties are not comparable at all and lumping them all together can make it a pretty frustrating experience if you play a lot on the easier difficulty modes and get some high scores that can lock you out of the scoreboard for a long time when you switch to the more challenging modes.

- I've seen others point it out already, but I second the addition of a dedicated focus button. Having tap for shot and hold for focus as in some arcade shmups has the benefit of making the game playable with just two buttons, but it forbids you from moving slowly without firing, which is something that can actually come in handy in Celestial Crusaders, for example if you want to graze bullets to recharge the bomb without killing the enemies that fire them yet. Or against bosses where you may want to stop firing to milk more bullets out of them.

- Speaking of the bosses, do they have timers? Otherwise you can just milk their bullets forever, can't you? Unless the hit count decreases faster? In any case, I wonder if having the multiplier increase when cancelling the boss' bullets is a good idea. I fear that optimal scoring strategies will force you to shoot as little as possible and fire as many bombs as possible for the duration of each boss phase's timer to increase the hit counter before killing the boss at the last moment everytime to maximize the score payout. I am not fond of boss milking as it makes runs last even longer and isn't as exciting as fighting varied waves of enemies or trying strategies to destroy the bosses as fast as possible. What I could suggest is have the hit counter decrease only during the boss fight (kinda like in Ketsui I guess), and what the bomb can do at best is freeze the descent but never increase its value, so you'll be inclined to kill the boss as fast as possible while trying to use bombs as often as possible to minimize the multiplier loss.

- Is there a pause menu and/or a quick restart function that I have missed? It's always a good feature to have in a shmup.

-While there isn't any performance issue when playing, for some reason, the recordings I am trying to get with OBS Studio are rather jerky. The shiny light green cubes generated at the end of a bonus round in particular generate lots of frame-skipping in the video output but the game in general has issues on my end despite not being too busy from a visual standpoint.

Anyway, I am really enjoying this demo and I love your enthusiasm in the tutorial! The game is already pretty great! By the way, I noticed that there was a Kickstarter campaign for the game a few months ago that unfortunately didn't work out for you. Does that mean Celestial Crusaders' development has been put on hiatus or even abandoned?

Best of luck if you are still working on this!

Hi!

A new demo of the game was just released. It adds audiovisual improvements, as well as an entire new stage and some additionnal game mechanics.
As always, you can download it here : 

https://mknight.itch.io/remote-weapon-gunfencer


Thanks in advance for your comments!

I noticed that the price has now been discounted!

Hello,

I've noticed that the itch.io version of Monolith is not on sale, while the game is currently discounted on Steam. Is that an oversight or is it intentional? Thanks in advance.

(1 edit)

Hi! I am currently working on the development of a horizontal shmup with Unity3D. The game has caravan influences and scoring mechanics based on quick-killing enemy waves. I took inspiration from several of my favorite shmups, and most notably Radirgy.

I recently set up the itch.io page and released a demo which contains two stages. You can get it here :

https://mknight.itch.io/remote-weapon-gunfencer

Here's a gameplay video of the first stage to give you an idea of how it plays :


Feedback and criticism are welcome!

Hi!
If you have any feedback or comment about the game, you can post it in this thread.

(3 edits)

DEMO 6 (2018-07-24)

  • -[FEATURE] Added child enemy mechanic : some enemies/bosses spawn child enemies that inflict damage on the enemy that spawned them when they are killed
  • -[FEATURE] Medals now behave like the Dangun Feveron discomen, with almost every enemy dropping a medal and them moving to a side before boucing and going in the other direction. There is no penalty for missing a medal though.
  • -[FEATURE] Added a 1-Up and an extend item
  • -[BUGFIX] Stick axes inversion option for Arcade sticks
  • -[BUGFIX] Fixed scaling errors in the stage 2 backgrounds
  • -[BUGFIX] Stage 2 pink sunfish enemy properly moves more slowly if the game slows down
  • -[BUGFIX] Fixed the truck wheels rotation
  • -[ADDITION] Added Stage 3
  • -[ADDITION] Cake slices are spawned when you are hit to instantly recharge the bomb
  • -[ADDITION] Bullets have a small scale-based animation and a sound effect when spawned to better telegraph them. The bullets are harmless during that animation.
  • -[ADDITION] Added a visual effect in front of the mecha's machine gun when firing a shot
  • -[ADDITION] Added a particle effect on top of the previous indicator to better tell when the bomb is ready
  • -[ADDITION] Added SFX for the autobomb
  • -[ADDITION] The mecha's visor's 3D model also flickers with it when the player gets hit by a bullet
  • -[ADDITION] Updated stage intro visuals
  • -[ADDITION] Added boosters effects to some enemies
  • -[ADDITION] Added SFX to Warning sequences
  • -[ADDITION] Added Dialogue Boxes with some snippets during stage intros, boss intros, and boss destruction
  • -[ADDITION] Added background objects and events in both stages
  • -[ADDITION] Added Background SFX in Stage 1
  • -[ADDITION] Added square cursor that hovers over the current initial on the name entry screen as well as a sound effect when an initial is entered
  • -[ADDITION] The SFX level in the option menu dynamically changes the SFX level and plays a sound effect to give an idea of the new sound level
  • -[ADDITION] Pressing "Cancel" on the main menu returns you to the title screen
  • -[ADDITION] Added transparency effect to pause menu
  • -[ADDITION] The pause menu can be closed by pressing the pause button again
  • -[ADDITION] Confirmation menus appear in the option menus when leaving it while having unsaved changes or when trying to delete the high scores
  • -[ADDITION] Added tutorial sections to explain some of the new mechanics
  • -[ADDITION] The "Escape" key always works as a pause button.
  • -[ADDITION] Added disclaimer text on the title screen
  • -[CHANGE] Rehauled Stage 2 waves and enemies.
  • -[CHANGE] Boss Time bonus and boss point values rebalanced to better focus on the speedkilling and increasing the point difference bewteen a fast and a regular clear.
  • -[CHANGE] Adjusted cake spawning during bosses so that sword slashes give less cake slices and so that the generated items don't give points
  • -[CHANGE] Nerfed pink tank agressiveness to make it only fire once
  • -[CHANGE] Modified boss 1 patterns
  • -[CHANGE] Boosted the number of cake slices given by the pink sunfish enemy in Stage 2
  • -[CHANGE] Mid-bosses can now generate enough items to recharge the entire bomb when quick-killed
  • -[CHANGE] Adjusted some small enemies' behavior so that they don't fire at the player if he is very close
  • -[CHANGE] Various tweaks to enemy waves
  • -[CHANGE] Removed camera shaking when player gets hit : instead, a particle effect is played
  • -[CHANGE] Changed Stage 1 skybox to be more colorful
  • -[CHANGE] Changed stage 2 floor color scheme to be much less bland and gray
  • -[CHANGE] Improved Stage 1 Park bridge 3d model
  • -[CHANGE] Adjusted BG camera motions to be a bit smoother
  • -[CHANGE] Cake slices movement is more dynamic-looking
  • -[CHANGE] Minor optimizations to some 3d models, textures, 2 assets and tutorial sprites
  • -[CHANGE] Restarting the level does not reload the entire scene but properly resets all the parameters and objects. This makes restarts much faster.
  • -[CHANGE] Changed the Stage Select menu visuals
  • -[CHANGE] "Set Default Options" in the options menu only reverts the options to default without immediatly saving them.
  • -[CHANGE] Fixed typos in the tutorial text


DEMO 5 (2018-04-13)

  • -[BUGFIX] Fixed a ranking display glitch where some of the initials (the empty space and the numbers) produced unwanted characters on the scoreboard.
  • -[BUGFIX] Fixed bug where pressing the Cancel button during initial entry when no initials were entered actually entered characters related to the cancel symbol.
  • -[BUGFIX] Fixed a bug where a boss could get locked in the knockback state and become a sitting duck until its death if it was knocked back on the exact same frame where he had to move to the next attack in the previous phase.
  • -[BUGFIX] Fixed the error where the sword animation would sometimes spazz out like crazy when the player pauses the game mid-swing.
  • -[ADDITION] Added a boss destruction sequence. The boss now explodes a lot when destroyed instead of instantly disappearing,and the BG camera shakes a bit during the final explosion
  • -[ADDITION] Animated the Game Over, Stage Clear and Score Recap sequences at the end of a run.
  • -[ADDITION] Added a point display for every ennemy killed
  • -[ADDITION] Added visible lifebars during boss fights.
  • -[ADDITION] Added names to the 2 bosses. Boss 1 is "ROCKET CLAW". Boss 2 is "INDIGO WING"
  • -[ADDITION] Added the last three planned poses/sprites for Emily in the tutorial menu.
  • -[ADDITION] Added a fade-out transition effect to Emily's portaits in the tutorial section.
  • -[CHANGE] Replaced many placeholder UI elments with proper art assets : Pause menu, menu arrows, ranking screen, options, tutorial menu, boss warning, wave bonus displays, boss time bonus display, medal bonus display, Game Over, Stage Clear
  • -[CHANGE] The in-game Life/Bomb/Score counter's 3D model has been replaced by an art asset that visually matches the other UI elements' style.-[CHANGE] The score recap at the end of a run is now visible even for players who didn't make it to the ranking
  • -[CHANGE] Renamed "Practice" to "Stage Select" to reduce confusion about the mode
  • -[CHANGE] The Stage Select mode now displays a preview of the selected stage's background instead of the same artwork as in the main menu
  • -[CHANGE] Changed most if not all the text displayed on screen for an outlined variant.
  • -[CHANGE] Replaced the empty space initial by an underscore.
  • -[CHANGE] Multiple wave bonuses indicators can be displayed on the screen at the same time.
  • -[CHANGE] Changed the Gunfencer's 3D model's orientation to a side-view in order to help locating the hitbox.
  • -[CHANGE] Decreased the outline thickness on the GunFencer's sword
  • -[CHANGE] Replaced Stage 1 mid boss' 3D model for yet another redesign.
  • -[CHANGE] Updated one of the Stage 2 spotlight textures to be darker
  • -[CHANGE] Decreased the size of cake slices to improve lisibility
  • -[CHANGE] Darkened the BG to improve visibility
  • -[CHANGE] Updated the "Rayons de Soleil" texture on the stage 1 bakery.
  • -[CHANGE] Replaced BG advert mockups in Stage 1 by higher quality fake-ads.
  • -[CHANGE] Changed the Stage 1 boss entrance camera movements to turn towards the plaza during the warning and not during the fight
  • -[CHANGE] Updated Stage 2 boss entrance SFX
  • -[CHANGE] Tweaked the BG camera movements for smoother turns and transitions
  • -[CHANGE] Nerfed HP of the stage 2 blue popcorn enemy that fires clusters of 4 bullets so that it matches the other popcorn enemies's health.
  • -[CHANGE] Increased the medal movement speed a bit
  • -[CHANGE] Slightly updated Emily's artwork to fix a few shading and line errors
  • -[CHANGE] Updated the tutorial dialogue to make it clearer that Emily is the one to pilot the mecha in-universe instead of the player.

DEMO 4  (2018-03-06)

  • -[CHANGE] Removed Debug Info, cleaned up player shot 3D model, reduced amount of pooled bullets, and adjusted camera settings to improve game performance


DEMO 3 (2018-03-02)

  • - [ADDITION] Stage 2
  • - [ADDITION] The game finally has a name, a title screen and a kickass logo !
  • - [ADDITION] Added BG elements and events in Stage 1, including the cheapest-looking and cheapest-animated fire effect known to man~
  • - [ADDITION] Added icons to menu options, so you can navigate them even if you don't know how to read ! (or due to language barrier)
  • - [ADDITION] Player shots now have a black outline
  • - [ADDITION] The mecha is displayed in the options when the selected option is relevant to it.
  • - [ADDITION] Emily's sprites are displayed in the options menu when the Clothing Change option is selected
  • - [ADDITION] Added a sound effect for non-lethal sword damage inflicted on an enemy
  • - [ADDITION] Player mech has booster animations when he moves forward
  • - [ADDITION] Added a booster animation to one of the enemies (The light orange one that fires two long blue bullets forward)
  • - [FEATURE] Some enemy types drop a medal (among three types) when killed. These medals are each worth a fixed amount of points, depending on the medal type
  • - [FEATURE] Stage select mode
  • - [FEATURE] Individual ranking tables are available for each stage played in stage select mode
  • - [FEATURE] Customize the mecha color among four color schemes : Blue, Red, Green, Orange
  • - [FEATURE] More screen aspect ratios are available, but bars will be added to always keep 16:9 aspect ratio in-game
  • - [FEATURE] Added animated arrows in most menus
  • - [FEATURE] Togglable circular indicator that surrounds the hitbox, for those who have issues keeping track of the hitbox's current location at any time
  • - [FEATURE] An option allows to automatically skip the opening animation
  • - [FEATURE] When changing the language in the options menu, the option menu text changes
  • - [CHANGE] Boss 1 is different : new design, some differences to the patterns
  • - [CHANGE] Adjusted camera movements in Stage 1 to avoid passing right behind lampposts
  • - [CHANGE] The autobomb penalty that increases the amount of cake items required to get another bomb ready is no longer active once you bomb again manually
  • - [CHANGE] The whole mech flickers when damaged
  • - [CHANGE] Tweaks to boss warning sequences
  • - [CHANGE] Tweaks to the enemy explosions (sound effects and graphics)
  • - [CHANGE] The cursor in menus only reaches the bottom if it is the last item in the menu list, and only reaches the top if it is the first
  • - [CHANGE] Changed color of two of the enemies to a lighter shade of gray, to help them stand out against the roads
  • - [CHANGE] Adjusted some hitbox color options to avoid them completely blending with the available mecha colors
  • - [CHANGE] Most of the smaller enemies don't fire at point-blank range anymore
  • - [BUGFIX] When game is slowed down, the speed decrease applied to the player's shots matches the general slowdown instead of being even slower
  • - [BUGFIX] Fixed the camera shaking glitch where getting hit the instant the camera moves from a path to another made it fly very high and slowy descend to where it should be


DEMO 2 (2017-12-29)

  • - [BUGFIX] The game speed is the same for all of the elements on screen even when slowdown occurs, instead of having lots of desyncs with the camera not being affected by the slowdown for example.
  • - [FEATURE] An option allows you to switch the hitbox color. 5 colors so far : White, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink
  • - [FEATURE] Additionnal input options in the Input menu, with Horizontal and Vertical axes, if you want to use Joysticks.
  • - [ADDITION] Added more background items (Bus Stops, Trees, Park entrances, etc.)
  • - [ADDITION] Some background elements can now be animated. The stage intro and the beginning of the stage proper have some background action involving cars and enemies.
  • - [CHANGE] The mid-boss as well as the sunfish-looking ennemy are replaced by different designs. Their behavior remains unchanged.
  • - [CHANGE] The sword slashes, lacking in visiblity, have been updated with much easier to see variants.
  • - [CHANGE] Due to a bug that I haven't fixed yet and that is caused by the solution to the slowdown problem, the camera shaking when hit has been replaced by a flash for now. (well, it is actually a camera shake so intense that the background disappears for a second, giving the impression of a flash)
  • - [CHANGE] Changed the ranking menu graphics to have a more coherent and readable score ranking.
  • - [CHANGE] Changed the game icon to a smaller resolution equivalent.


DEMO 1 (2017-12-20)

  • -Initial Release