High octane action in a package that wraps before its time.
Skipmore is a name that you might recognize if you played a lot of Nintendo 3DS eShop titles. The one man studio is responsible for the Fairune games, which were published by CIRCLE Entertaintment in western regions. They were fun little titles, but a little too slow for my liking. The 2D overhead style of gameplay was something I hoped that they would explore further. My wishes were granted with the release of KAMIKO, a release that suddenly dropped after the last Japanese Nintendo Direct. The changes made to its systems could instantly be felt and I walked away more impressed this time around.
In KAMIKO, you will play as one of three shrine maidens who are out to save mankind. A bunch of demons have sealed the gates between the realms of the dead and the living. In the interest of avoiding the end of the world, you take control of the shrine maiden, activate shrines all across the level and destroy a boss at the end of it. These tasks need to be completed in all four levels before heading off into the sunset. A single playthough can be wrapped up in about an hour. Naturally, this is quite light, but there is a reason to play after the gate is opened.
Each of the three shrine maidens handles somewhat differently. The basics are the same, but the attacks are what really change up the formula. Yamato has a sword, Uzume has a bow and arrow, and Hinome has a boomerang and a dagger. Personally, I enjoyed Hinome the best as she offered the most variables, but all of them are quite solid. You will use their mechanics in fast-paced overhead action that puts Skipmore's previous works to shame. You can sprint across the stage, solve light puzzles and destroy everything that stands in your way. There is a grand flow to it all that really impressed me. What helps is that you have full 8-way directional control, despite KAMIKO having a lovely retro aesthetic.
Even in its slower moments, KAMIKO never really drags. The game relies on a SP mechanic that is needed to open chests for various goodies. The most important ones are keys and orbs, which need to be carried to the appropriate locations on the map. Part of the challenge comes in avoiding enemies, as getting hit causes the item to return to its source chest. Once the SP are exhausted, they can be recovered by destroying a succession of enemies. Maintaining a combo maxes out the SP gains, so you’ll wear out the sprint option to keep the chain building.
KAMIKO owns up to the fact that it is short. There is a records option that showcases your best times and tracks your overall progress. Enthusiasts can easily finish a round within an hour or less and see the improvements they've made over time. Not all players will be into the time attack, but it’s a fun reason to come back. The game does suffer some noticeable frame hitching at spots; not enough to break the game, but definitely noticeable.
If you are looking for a quick game, KAMIKO will absolutely serve will you well. It has all the markings of a great game with entertaining gameplay, sharp visuals and a solid flow. I had fun replaying the four stages and seeing how I could improve over time. That being said, I can easily admit that the game is super short and the levels won't change on future playthroughs. If you have seen the content once, you will know the game inside out. That might a sticking point for some, but the various characters do make it worth your while.