Cute anime girls blowin' stuff up!
If the title of the review didn't impress you very much then turn back now, because that condenses all of what Trigger Heart Exelica is into a few words. That is that it's a vertical scrolling shoot em' up in which you control a cute anime girl who wears jetgear and carries a giant gun which you use to mow down waves of enemy ships. This insane concept may be enough to put off players who aren't so easilly amused by such things, but that kind of person should give this game a second look, under the insanity lies a deep and satisfying experience.
The main story mode consists of five stages, which is fairly short by shooter standards, but they're busy and diverse stages with lots of enemies of all different kinds flying at you and sometimes filling the screen. That being said, Trigger Hear Exelica definitely feels like a more friendly crazy Japanese shooter, with most of the challenge lying with getting a high score, or seeing one of the two character's true endings. The two playable characters, Exelica and Crueltear both feel and look different enough that both are worth playing as. Exelica moves slower, but her shots spread wider and Crueltear moves faster, but her shots only go straight forward.
What makes Trigger Heart Exelica unique among crazy Japanese shooters is the anchor weapon that both characters posses. The anchor allows you to shoot and grab enemies of a certain weight (most enemies can be grabbed, but some bigger ships, tanks and bosses cannot), when an enemy is held with the anchor your character will swing them around and around until you throw them away. Enemies held with the anchor can be used to block bullets, can be swung into other enemies or can be thrown at enemies for a very powerful attack. Power ups for guns only upgrade how much damage they do and nothing else and there are the basic bombs included in most, if not all shooters.
Another interesting mechanic of the game is the medals that enemies drop after being destroyed. Enemies destroyed with the anchor attack spit out a lot of medals, but medals dropped from enemies destroyed with the regular gun can be powered up as long as the gun is still firing. Medals are lost when a life is lost and are important for gaining a higher score or for reaching better stages in the boss fights, which can lead to getting the true ending for a character.
Overal Trigger Heart Exelica seems a little light on content, but at the same time the game that is there just feels so right and satisfying it barely matters. The game is short, satisfying and at the same time challenging in a way that isn't brutal or unfair. It's a good game to introduce someone to the world of crazy shoot em' ups to ease them into the experience and for those who are into that sort of game already it's a nice casual, feel good experience every time you play it.