10th Oct2023

‘CounterAttack: Uprising’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

In CounterAttack: Uprising, humanity is faced with a mechanical apocalypse. Beings known as “Automatons” are hellbent on the complete eradication of the human race – assembling an unstoppable armada and laying waste to everything in their path. With nowhere to go, humanity is forced to rush the Experimental Space Fighter program into production with 8 pilots leading the charge – each with their own ship and special ability supercharged by powerful Quantium…

An indie side-scrolling shmup, CounterAttack: Uprising finally comes to the Switch with customizable ships, weapons, and a full-featured campaign editor AND this iteration features 25 new attachments and 2 new levels: “Anomaly” and “Gate” – meaning this is the most complete version of the game available. But is it any good?

In a word, yes.

First off, CounterAttack: Uprising is remarkably easy to pick up and play – even if the myriad of load-outs and other RPG-like elements feel like they’re in the way of just getting started. I ploughed through the selection screens, choosing my character based on my previous shmup experience, in this case I went for a ship that was classed as “Medium” in both speed and power and then just added the three lad-outs in random slots. And with I was into the game.

A quick tutorial on pick-ups, weapons etc. kicks things off and, honestly, feels a little unnecessary for those who’ve played shmups before – especially Gradius, as CounterAttack: Uprising features an almost identical weapon bar system, with pick-ups allowing you to upgrade your ship’s speed, bullet spread, power and more. Word of warning though… If you decide to play the game on easy mode, these pick-ups come thick and fast, which means you can power up your ship quickly (and some might say too much) and thus the game becomes even easier! So for those with shmup experience I’d start at medium difficulty at least.

And, just to make things more tricky, if you want to make CounterAttack: Uprising even more difficult, gamers can aim to 100% each level – killing all enemies and collecting all pick-ups. There’s also a kill streak in the game too – just to add an extra level of difficulty.

In terms of graphics, CounterAttack: Uprising is adequate. The player’s ship designs are basic but they work as needed. As are the enemy ships; though the end-of-level bosses are more complex and graphically interesting. Though the bullet-hell nature of the game, and the sheer number of enemies on screen, means that the appearance of the spaceships are the least of gamer’s worries!

One of the biggest selling points of CounterAttack: Uprising is the multiplayer. The game features local 4-player co-op and 20-player online multiplayer. Unfortunately finding a game to join is tricky given the low-key release on the Switch and the fact this is a new release. Local co-op is great however, and for the harder difficulty levels could be considered somewhat essential.

CounterAttack: Uprising comes with two main game modes – Campaign and Survival. Survival is exactly that – a play until you die game which has three Endless survival modes in all. Campaign is broken down into Arcade, Hardcore and Casual modes. In campaign mode each level follows a branching system that allows you to select the difficulty of each individual level too – think of something akin to Outrun‘s similar system. All in all, the game features over 32 levels, each with its own final boss. And when you’re done with both of those modes there’s a custom mode too that allows you to put together your own missions and levels using the game’s unique campaign/level editor.

As the first title from small, independent game development studio Relative Games, CounterAttack: Uprising is a fantastic debut game and should be on the radar of ALL shmup fans.

**** 4/5

CounterAttack: Uprising is available on the Nintendo eShop now.


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