Give me pudding or give me death!
I had to take a second glance at the official description of QP Shooting – Dangerous!!, because at first I was sure that it was a bad translation in the vein of “All your base are belong to us.” However, the description of “QP Shooting – Dangerous!! is a bullet-hell type shoot 'em up starring the pudding-loving dog girl QP seen in 100% Orange Juice” actually makes sense if you're familiar with the game developers. When the oddball anime style and wacky humor elements are removed, this game boils down to a challenging shmup with cool features that let players customize the gameplay to suit their playstyle.
QP is the name of a traditional Japanese Harajuku-style girl who happens to have dog ears and an unhealthy obsession with pudding. Apparently, she's ready to blast the crap out of anyone and anything that blocks her next bowl of creamy sweetness, and that includes birds, trains, giant top hats, and even former friends! I guess some people can handle low blood sugar better than others, but I sure wouldn't want to be at the business end of her Rbits.
“What's an Rbit?” you may ask. Well, they're QP's basic weapon, and they consist of floating rabbit (Rbit) heads that orbit her body and fire projectiles outwards. The great thing about Rbits is that their formations can be customized by the player. Three different formations can be used during combat, and changing between them can drastically affect the player's performance. Believe me, switching between the default forward-facing and rear-facing formations really comes in handy when enemies and their infinite projectiles surround QP from all directions. With up to 28 possible formations at the player's disposal, it becomes nearly as much fun to unlock them as it is to blast through each stage.
Speaking of which, blasting through each stage is very challenging even on “normal” difficulty. Unlike most shmups, enemy projectiles turn into stars that can be collected when the enemy who fired them is destroyed. This puts a heavy emphasis on offensive gameplay because destroying enemies and their projectiles is more effective than simply dodging them all while slowly draining the enemy's life bar. This offensive style of play also makes the plethora of projectiles a bit less intimidating.
Different-colored stars can be collected from both destroyed enemies and their projectiles, and these stars are used to power up Hyper mode. A limited number of lives for QP makes every one precious, and Hyper mode can save her canine hide when she's in a pinch. It does this by turning all onscreen projectiles into stars and letting QP dish out extra damage. Three different types of Hyper mode are available, and each one changes both the power of the damage bonus and the length that Hyper mode is active. It's also possible to string star-collecting together to increase the amount of stars that are created by destroying enemies.
In addition to four difficulty levels, QP Shooting – Dangerous!! offers replay value in the form of both Arcade and Conquest modes. Arcade mode always starts at the beginning of the first stage and challenges players to beat the entire game in one sitting. Conquest mode lets players save after each stage so they can take the challenge incrementally. Both my patience and my barber prefer Conquest mode because I feel like pulling my hair out every time I play Arcade mode. On another note, I like the ability to save each playthrough in order to evaluate my performance and possibly share it with friends.
At first glance I didn't think I'd enjoy playing QP Shooting – Dangerous, but the oddball style and solid gameplay won me over. Not all is perfect, though, as I could do without the long-winded story elements and cheesy music. However, the childish visuals offer a welcome dichotomy to the merciless challenge, and it wouldn't be gentlemanly to stop playing until QP gets her pudding!