Game Review #410: Pawarumi (Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Manufacture 43
Publisher: Manufacture 43
Category: Shoot em Up
Release Date: 7.24.2019
Price (at time of review): $14.99
Buy Pawarumi from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
An Aztec Adventure
If there was a combination that I never thought I would see before, futuristic Aztec shoot ‘em up game is pretty high on that list, but here we are! Pawarumi is a high-energy shoot ‘em up that has a lot of awesome mechanics that will have you switching your attacks around and paying attention to the whole screen, rather than just a little area around your ship like it ends up being in a lot of shoot ‘em ups, and I am digging it! Pawarumi challanges some of the conventional shoot ‘em up tropes, and tackles them in fun, innovative, and visually appealing ways. Why don’t we talk a little bit more about Pawarumi and what makes it something special, shall we?
Neon-Lit, Aztec Fit
This game is set in a self-proclaimed “Retro futuristic Sci-fi pre-Columbian Universe”—it’s a mouthful, I know! So, expect to see technology clash with history, as you see highly advanced weaponry wrapped in Aztec visual motifs and designs, laid down against some backdrops that could be hundreds of years ago, or thousands even! It’s an occasionally inconsistent, but pleasing aesthetic. I think some of the high points are the portraits of the characters and bosses; they are beautifully drawn, and oozing with color, personality, and cool technology.
You play as Axo, who pilots the awesomely spectacular ship, The Chukaru. In this world, The Council rules everything, and they aren’t exactly nice about it. It’s up to you to fight back, and you won’t know exactly why, unless you can fight your way through more red, blue, and green lasers and bullets than you can shake a stick at! Why red, blue, and green, you ask? Well, that would have to do more with the core mechanic of this game, which has to do with color. If you thought managing two colors in Ikaruga was a treat, wait until you are engaged in Pawarumi! Let’s talk a little more about that next…
Rock-Paper-Scissors… With LASERS!
I feel like the blurb on the official page for this game on Switch says it best, so I’ve used that as the title for this section. The Chukaru is equipped with 3 weapons, each given by a god. There is Serpent, which is green, and shoots a spiral of green bullets in front of you; Condor, which is blue, and shoots a large, thin laser ahead of you; and finally, Jaguar, which is red, and has homing capabilities. Now, the way these interact with enemies is where it gets really interesting, which is through three mechanics the game calls Crush, Boost and Drain. The way this works is that you can either double the damage done to an enemy, refill your shield to take more hits, or even charge your super attack, depending on which color attack you use to hit the different colors of enemies!
Crush allows you to do double damage by using blue on green, green on red, or red on blue, and this is the way you want to handle hard enemies that take a lot of hits and fill the screen with bullets, since you are going to want to take them out as quickly as possible.
Boost will refill your shield, so you can take more hits before dying! I try to keep my shield topped off whenever I can, so if it isn’t, I’m usually trying to Boost it up, which you accomplish by using a color on itself. So, hit a green enemy with a green weapon, and so on and so forth.
Drain is executed by doing the opposite of Crush, so you will use green on blue, blue on red, and red on green. When you Drain, it will fill up your super attack gauge, which will allow you to do the good old-fashioned shoot ‘em up screen-clearing attack that will save your butt on many occasions. You WANT this filled, so you can be ready to deal with any threat that arises, especially in an emergency.
It takes a little bit to keep ALL this in mind at first, but just keep at it, and you will eventually dial it in to be like second nature!
All of these mechanics are wrapped around an arcade mode with 3 levels of difficulty that each feature more levels and altered level orders. This game REALLY gets hard on higher difficulties; it’s pretty wild. It also has a practice feature, so you can practice later bosses and levels without having to beat the first half of the game a million times, just to die fighting the last boss a few more times, and that is very much appreciated. It has online leaderboards, so you can compete to your heart’s content, and in general, Pawarumi has a lot of spirit and accomplishes a lot of good things. I think Pawarumi’s weakest point may be a soundtrack that didn’t have any serious standouts—but it might just be my preferences.
Don’t be discouraged with this one! Just start it out on easy mode until you get good at reacting to the different colors and situations, then ease yourself into the later difficulties, and once it clicks, it’s a blast! I give Pawarumi a strong 8/10. It might not be for everyone, but if you like a good challenge, or adding a new level of stratagy to the genre, then give Pawarumi a try!
Buy Pawarumi from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by PR Hound