Among the things exploding: multiple ships, several hundred tanks, and my eyeballs.
I didn’t really cotton to what Crimzon Clover: World Explosion was until someone linked me to a message board of hardcore shooter fans who had it betwen Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun on their best of all time list. What Crimzon Clover proved to me is that it is a well-designed bullet hell shooter, but those types of games are definitely designed for people younger than I.
Crimzon Clover’s story is non-existent, focusing entirely on the gameplay. At its core, it’s a vertically oriented scrolling game where the goal is to avoid a massive hail of laser / bomb fire from opposing ships and shoot down as many forces as possible. The controls are simple: move with a stick, hold down A for rapid fire, B handles a lock-on shot, and Y either fires a screen-clearing bomb or causes the ship to enter “Boost Mode”. This mode doubles the width of the ship’s rapid fire and racks up points much faster, with the mode lasting until the ship dies or a timer runs out depending on the game mode. Getting kills drops stars on the screen that boost your “boost” multiplier, resulting in potential scores in the trillions for players of extreme skill.
There’s a few choices for customization in Crimzon Clover, whether it’s the difficulty or even your display mode. There are three options of ship with varying speed and firing width stats, and your choice of three modes from the start: “Novice”, “Arrange”, and “Arcade”. Each mode offers the core game mode, with Arrange and Arcade also giving a time attack mode (three minute time limit) and all difficulties offering a “Boost” mode that scales based on the player’s skill. Although the Arrange mode is supposed to represent a medium difficulty, it’s also the mode where the option exists to shoot down incoming fire, which honestly made it the mode I had the most fun with. Arrange also offers a power up bar similar to the one seen in Konami’s Gradius series, which can be triggered either manually by the player or on a “semi-automatic” basis to create a wider ship with big shields. There’s also an option to play in a vertical / “tate” mode if you have a Joy-Con attached on the side (or an appropriate accessory such as the FanGamer “Flip Grip”); when playing in a horizontal view, the score is usually kept on the right side of the screen with lives and ingame achievements noted on the left of the play field.
If you’re going to play Crimzon Clover, there’s no two ways about it: you’ll die and die often. Each mode starts with three lives, and by the midpoint of the first level something will catch you from the side or behind and kill you. It doesn’t help that the more powerful lock-on shot slows the ship down. (Note that the game admits this in the pregame tutorials.) Even my “Novice” run ended up with a continue count in the mid-teens: the continues are instantaneous, but it does reset whatever multiplier you have to the basic one. It’s especially annoying when battling the final boss, which starts bouncing off the bottom of the screen like a basketball or the clown car at the end of Super Mario World when it’s taken enough damage. I had to burn at least three or four continues trying to get rid of the thing, and probably got more irritated than normal about the “try to beat the Area 5 boss without continuing!” screen after finally getting through it. If you want to analyze a run, the game tracks an entire session of play and allows for viewing a full replay. There’s also high score tracking and uploading for the higher difficulties.
With so much action on screen at once, it’s hard to differentiate between fire that can be absorbed and that which will take a life if it touches the ship. I would think that direct contact is needed, but then would get clipped by a blast and lose a life. The enemies stand out pretty well, even the smaller ground-based tanks. The music matches the intensity of the game quite well, and some of the tunes I still found myself humming after turning the game off.
Maybe it’s because of my age, but Crimzon Clover: World Explosion is one of the non-Ring Fit games where I felt exhausted after a session. It’s surprisingly demanding if you’re not used to these kinds of space shooters. I can see why the hardcore fans eat this game up, and it’s a very well designed game. It’s just not something I’d recommend for relaxing after a tough day at work.