Sine Mora Review
Xbox Live Arcade (1200 MS points = $15)
Sine Mora is now my favorite horizontal shmup (Treasure’s excellent Gradius V held that spot previously).
How is Sine Mora so good? Let’s see…
Gameplay that takes the best elements from bullet hell shmups and more traditional shmups.
A unique health system where you can be hit multiple times but each time you’re hit, you lose time and if you run out of time (and don’t have a backup time extension power-up), you’re dead.
Wonderful 3D graphics (but played in 2D) filled with creative landscapes and impressive enemies.
Music and sound overseen by legendary Silent Hill composer, Akira Yamaoka.
3 playable ships (main gun), several playable pilots (secondary attack), and 3 time control abilities (slow down, reverse, and reflect).
A fast-forward button to skip through unplayable story parts on repeat playings.
It’s really long for the genre. There are 6 main stages (plus a final boss stage & tutorial stage) but each stage is made up of 2 different levels, each of which is about as long as a typical shmup level and ends with an impressive multi-step boss.
More variety (both gameplay and setting) than you find in most shmups. Tons of memorable moments.
A creative achievement system where most of the Xbox achievement are ranks and each rank requires several smaller achievements to gain.
Plenty of leaderboards to compete on.
An actually well-written story (although confusing at first) with many interesting characters.
Four difficulty levels (Casual, Challenging, Hard, Insane) and difficulty modifiers based on how well you’re playing make the game accommodating to both the experience and unexperienced shmup fan.
Sine Mora feels like Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture never got the memo that shmups are a niche genre these days so instead they decided to go all out with an AAA production. I would wholeheartedly recommend Sine Mora as a $60 retail game. That it is available for $15 as an XBLA title makes it one of the best gaming deals of the year.
Download the demo or purchase the game here.