SCHAR Blue Shield Alliance
Game play - 4
Presentation - 3
Story / Creativity - 3
Lifespan - 2
Ultimately, SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance has the qualities of a solid old school browser shooter that just proves that the old ways of this particular game design haven’t aged well when it comes to gameplay and visual quality.
It can’t be denied that Brain Shape Games’ SCHAR Blue Shield Alliance isn’t nostalgic.
I remember back in the days of high school when me and my little friends would clamber around Windows 95 PCs and play those old browser based shooters like Asteroids and some cheap looking replica of Galaga. When we look at games of this calibre now, they have grown so much in such a small time that even tributes to the genre need to offer something fresh and modern. SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance takes us back to those days where burning away entire IT classes seemed like a good idea. You play as a selection of space fighters that must rid worlds of their precious salvage and bring them to your little mining probes that swarm orbiting satellites.
From what I can tell SCHAR has some form of plot, but the game is so busy trying to blow the hell out of me that it was hard to really concentrate at what the constant boxes of text were saying during the back and forth conversations between characters. Deep down I think SCHAR didn’t really need a story to begin with, or at least a story that existed within the chaos that happens within the space battles of its in-game provinces.
Pushing that a side though, SCHAR can be a pretty demanding experience for those wanting to go back to old school top down shooters. As I mentioned you play as a variety of different space ships that can be constantly switched between missions. All the ships have different stats but once you find one that you truly feel comfortable in, you can begin upgrading it slowly by using the numeric salvage that you collect during your battles against the constantly questionable AI. When I say questionable I mean it in a sense that the enemy fighters don’t really know what their main goals are when attempting to attack you and your ships.
Constantly I was ordered to defend against waves of little yellow ships only to see them fly passed me and completely batter by mining base. It was like trying to stop a pack of thugs pound on someone and you are the only person in the crowd willing to help. Sometimes the enemy will turn to fight you with their rather homing laser shots but I seemed to spend more time battling the painful control scheme than the rabid ships that tried to force me into a game over screen as fast as possible during each fight. SCHAR’s controls function kind of like one of those old flight games where you must conserve fuel as much as possible. While you have infinite fuel during this outing, the controls are still familiar in that fashion. This comes as a double edged sword as while it sure was a nostalgic feel, you will find yourself just floating away from the enemy as you try to keep up with them and wasting time as you try and level yourself out before once again hitting the thrusters and once again floating to the other side of the screen. The camera itself can be a little bit of a pain to handle.
When you are specifically moving in a certain direction the ship will be so close the one side of the screen that you just can’t see what is in front of you. It is frustrating because you could ultimately end up getting clothes lined by a swarm of enemy ships who instantly fire at you once emerging on the screen without you even having the reaction time to fight back.
People who do end up enjoying the experience will find a stream of extra content though, such as a endless wave inspired mode but then again how long could you really survive when the game tries so hard to kill you off in the first ten minutes. You have to remember that Blue Shield Alliance is an indie game and so the visual quality could be a bit off putting for someone wanting a shooter experience of something like Super Stardust, or even something in the HD , 2D art variety.
SCHAR’s aesthetic comes off more like that of a college project where the artist is still learning to perfect his style. A good example is the characters themselves that look a little like pencil on paper doodles. In this day and age we require more when it comes to hand drawn artwork, so hopefully Brain Shape Games will be able to give us something a little bit more 21st century in terms of style and glitter.