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The Blue Flamingo

By drcoolio34521-04-2015
The Blue Flamingo

The Defence

Might and Delight
Might and Delight
Action, Indie
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 8600
AMD Radeon HD 2600
4 GB
1 GB
9.0c, 10

The Case

With one of the most pleasant surprises on the Steam marketplace in recent times, Might and Delight, the people behind Shelter, have brought us a shmup by the name of The Blue Flamingo. With a focus on arcade-style wave-based combat and top-down action like many shmups before it, the question is if the game can stand on its own two legs or if it's actually just leaning on a pile of old shmup nostalgia to carry its sales.

The Trial

The Blue Flamingo is in no way genre shifting, and overall it's an extremely simple game; you shoot, you bomb, you kill enemies, and you get money to level up your ship at the end of the level. Nothing too new or exciting there, but while it lacks innovation it makes up for it in style and atmosphere.

Lights, one ship, and tons of enemies ramming their ships into you. What else could you want?

Lights, one ship, and tons of enemies ramming their ships into you. What else could you want?

First off, the music is top notch from the very beginning of the game. Instead of the typical anime soundtracks or epic symphonies that other shmups have, The Blue Flamingo has this mix between fast bluegrass and cool lounge jazz music playing on every level. It's catchy, and smooth, but more importantly it’s different than every other shmup because of this simple change, a theme that The Blue Flamingo has mastered.

The music feels fitting considering how the game looks too. It's not the far flung future and you're not piloting a mech, you're piloting this hunk of metal some guys scrapped together to win a contest. Going through the levels you can see yellow Cadillac Calais cruising around on the streets below, and enemies are more likely to ram themselves into you than accurately aim for you. It looks different, but it only looks different in the morning and at night because there are ONLY those environments you'll be seeing in the game, so better get used to looking at them. Overall the look of this game is great even if it is limited to two set pieces, and its setting isn't something we've seen before from a shmup.

As part of being a heap of metal flying through the sky, you have bombs, your guns, and that's it. This isn't Gradius where you have options surrounding you or Ikaruga where you can switch energy fields to absorb bullets, you don't even have multiple modes of fire. You control well enough to fly around the sky with ease, but you can count out things like boosting, teleporting, or shielding. The lack of features is fitting for the setting and I can honestly say that I never got tired of using the basic gun or hearing the heavy recoil after each bullet fired, but the options for attacking and defending in The Blue Flamingo are as basic as it gets, which does hurt the replay potential somewhat.   

It may look like the past, but don't tell that to the satellites, lasers, or floating walls trying to killing you.

It may look like the past, but don't tell that to the satellites, lasers, or floating walls trying to killing you.

The part that will turn away a lot of players though is that this isn't a quick, die and retry kind of game. If you die in The Blue Flamingo you're headed all the way back to the beginning, and there's no mode where you get multiple lives. You can take a few hits, but in return you can't heal after each level, and are only allowed to upgrade your guns or bombs. The Blue Flamingo is entirely focused around scoring points and surviving as far as anyone possibly can just like back in the days of arcade shmups, but while the hardcore might relish in this, it might be a bit hard to swallow for people who are newer to the genre or notion of no continues.

The Verdict

The Blue Flamingo is one of the most mechanically basic shmups that exist out there, but while it lacks in innovation or gameplay options it makes up for it style and feel. It feels great, sounds great, and controls great for as long as you play, especially for a game that costs less than a sandwich at Subway, but after you realize there aren't any upgrades to buy, weapons to pick up, or options to collect, the game loses some of its staying power assuming that you haven't already given up on it because of the difficulty that comes with no continues and no healing. It's a callout back to the days when shmups were played in arcades and all about getting points, plus it's a good callout if you're fond of those days.

Case Review

  • Sound: The jazzy soundtrack is amazing, and every bullet fired sounds nice while it's leaving and when it finally hits its target.
  • Setting: It's not the far flung future with mechs and options, it's modern, and something we haven't seen much of before.
  • The Score: I'd be willing to buy the soundtrack alone for $5, luckily I get the whole game for that $5.   
  • Difficulty: No continues, no healing, and no modes to turn them on. Better get good if you want to get the high score.
  • Looks: The levels look great, it's just unfortunate that there are only two backdrops to fly over, and that they're the same environment just one in the morning and one at night.
  • Basic: You won't find any gameplay innovations here. If you've played a shmup before you know 100% how to play The Blue Flamingo.
Score: 4/5
No mechs here, just style, music, and scoreboards.
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