Minishoot Adventures


Oh my goodness, Minishoot Adventures is an amazing game. Here we have a Zelda-like RPG, except played like a bullet-hell twin-stick shooter, and how on Earth was this not already a thing? It’s a perfect combination, and despite the off-putting nature of the term “bullet hell”, it’s immensely fair and welcoming too. It’s one of my favourite games of 2024.

In Minishoot, you play as a small, agile flying craft who exists in a very Zeldary top-down 2D world, to do a very Zeldary task: clearing out corrupted enemies who have escaped the underworld to destroy your village and the surrounding area. Except, all the combat is twin-stick shooting, in vast hazes of enemy fire. Along the way you pick up new skills, improve weapons, gain important area-accessing abilities, and clear out multiple dungeons. And, of course, take on a whole bunch of bosses.

It’s so important to stress just how well twin-stick floating fighting works in an RPG environment. Where the format is so often used in roguelites and Enter The Gungeon-style chamber-based challenges, it’s an unexpectedly perfect fit for something much more traditional. While the game will often seal you into one screen-sized area for a particular battle sequence, there’s always the sense of being on the way somewhere new, of exploring the latest section of the enormous map to which you’ve gained access.

On top of this, you’re also going to be gathering map fragments that fill in the world map, and then can be updated to show the entrances to all dungeons, big and small. You’ll also get abilities that will label incomplete locations, then ones that will highlight places with undiscovered items, like a metroidvania game. There are vast numbers of drops to gather too – crystals that level you up and can be spent on an ever-growing number of skills (speed, attack strength, critical chance, to name a few), as well as tokens that can be spent on further upgrades at the game’s handful of “shops”.

I stress all these elements, despite their being fairly standard for a Zelda-like RPG, because they’re just so unfamiliar to the twin-stick shooter. It want to communicate how involved it all is, how much there is to do, and why exploration is such a key factor.

Combat, meanwhile, is… well, it’s perfect. That’s a stupid word to use, and I never say it in reviews, but I can’t think how it could be improved. Your ship’s movement is… well, it’s perfect. You float beautifully, turn deftly, and scooting in between screens full of enemy blasts feels nimble and utterly, utterly fair. It allows those extraordinary zen-like moments where you just enter the zone and start preternaturally weaving your way through the tiny gaps in a screen of fire, feeling like a gaming god. And if you’re already thinking, “No, that’s not me, I can never do that,” just wait a moment.

Because as I mentioned, Minishoot is incredibly fair. I find that bullet hell games are so often created in order to provide awful people the ability to pretend they find them “too easy” on social media, horribly off-putting for regular people. That’s absolutely not the case here. The game’s Original difficulty mode offers (with an incredibly important qualifier to come) a level exactly the right level for me, constantly challenging, always making me feel like I couldn’t possibly ever be able to complete a certain sequence, and then nailing it on my third try. However, there’s also an Explorer option, that slows down the enemies and their bullets, making things significantly easier, alongside an Advanced mode, for all those who are super-skilled. But it then goes even further.

My constant lament over the many years I’ve been writing words about games has been the absolutely inexplicable need for boss fights to gatekeep access to the rest of games that people have paid for. It’s senseless, these vast difficulty spikes that exist to stop a person carrying on having fun, and I have never, ever heard a coherent explanation for why they shouldn’t be optional. (Read the 487 froth-mouthed comments on that linked article to see what I mean.) PEOPLE OF EARTH! IN MINISHOOT ADVENTURES YOU CAN TOTALLY CHEAT PAST THE BOSS FIGHTS!!!

Seriously, go to the Accessibility options, where you can also set the game speed to anything you wish to match your needs, and there’s an “Invincibility” tick box. It doesn’t scowl at you, or give you a sharp warning about how your peers will find out and spit on you in the streets. You just click it and you’re invincible. There were two boss fights and one enormously long and annoying insta-death dodging sequence in Minishoot that I couldn’t do. I tried and tried and tried. I tried again on Explorer and still couldn’t do them. So rather than being angry and sad and not carrying on playing one of my favourite games of the year, I cheated past them, then immediately switched the mode off and went back to having a really brilliant time. AND NO ONE DIED.

It’s worth adding that Minishoot‘s massive weakness is its boss fights. Not because they’re bad, because they’re not. It’s because they’re far, far too long. Eschewing the three-stage traditions, one of them went on for six bloody sections, and failure at any point resets you back to the very beginning of the battle. It’s worth noting that you absolutely can abandon it, play any number of other sections of the game to level yourself up more, and try again, and I often did that. But there were – as I mentioned above – a couple that I just couldn’t manage. What’s odd is that there were many after one I couldn’t do that I breezed through, suggesting that there are some real balancing issues there. But again, wow, what a difference it makes that rather than becoming the reason why I never finished the game and couldn’t review it, I was able to essentially skip them and we’re here, championing this as some of the most fun I’ve had in ages.

It’s so pretty, and so happy, and somehow non-verbal spaceships are able to have meaningful relationships. More importantly, Minishoot is also exquisitely well designed, with splendid dungeons to puzzle and fight through, and a vast overworld that’s so smothered in secrets that I’m still revelling in finding every part of the game long after I’ve rolled credits. This is utterly stunning.

  • SoulGame Studio / Indie Ark
  • Steam
  • £13/$15

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  1. I actually played 90% of Tunic on invincible mode, because I wasn’t playing it to ‘git gud’, I was playing it for the puzzles. And I discovered all the puzzles, and felt really good about it.

    Really glad to see other games doing similar, and realizing that ‘accessibility’ doesn’t just mean ‘make the text bigger’!

  2. I played its demo some two or three Next Fests back and loved it. Bought it on release day but haven’t played it yet; glad to hear it shaped up well, and I hope many more people buy it.

  3. Looks like an easier version of Archvale, which I generally enjoyed with the exception of a few challenge rooms (I think optional, I can’t remember). Wishlisted!

  4. Interesting — I can think of twin-stick shooter / Zelda hybrids, but almost always roguelike games. Even Archvale, which Oneiromancer mentions, had procedural generation elements (for no obvious reason– it’s a long enough game I can’t imagine most players want to re-roll the maps and play again). A more conventional merger of the genres does seem like an underserved combo!

    “I have never, ever heard a coherent explanation for why they shouldn’t be optional”

    In /some/ game design molds, boss fights serve as checks to make sure the player has mastered a concept they’ll need going forward? Other than that, I think it’s just “Because it never occurred to the devs that players would want/need to skip the climax of part of the gameplay loop”

  5. This game is incredible. I saw a few mentions on r/metroidvania but your review sealed the deal. Bought it and mainlined it over the weekend. Such a polished and smooth experience!

  6. Thanks for the opportunity to divert my Zelda-obsessed son into other genres! It’s a little challenging for a 9 year old but he’s giving it a go and progressing pretty well. Such a good idea and the style is cute and blobby 🙂

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