Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire is a vertical shoot-’em-up created by the renowned developer Alfa System in celebration of their 30th anniversary. Alfa System is responsible for the character-focused Castle Shikigami shoot-’em-up series that involves plenty of character banter and super-powered abilities. With its similarly over-the-top characters and attack patterns, Sisters Royale is a spiritual sequel to Castle Shikigami in some ways. While the game largely revisits well-trodden conventions in a no-frills way, the characters’ interactions and the simple mechanics result in an entertaining shoot-’em-up experience.
Sisters Royale’s plot is relatively straightforward as it features five sisters competing for their beloved Yashin’s love. These sisters are prophesied to combine their powers to defeat the not-so-subtly named Seytan. The catch is that they absolutely dislike each other and refuse to work together, which results in plenty of wacky clashes. Players select one of the five sisters and battle their siblings across five differently themed stages. Little do the sisters realize that the end of their journey takes a drastic turn!
The game provides a few twists on the familiar formula of dodging incoming bullet-hell attacks and shooting enemies. However, each character has a unique roster of shots, summons, and bombs. The shots are standard wide-ranging attacks, and the summons are specialized abilities that can score high damage but can take some finesse to use properly. These shot patterns include standard forward shots, wide shots, and homing projectiles. However, the summons include a chasing spirit, three spinning swords, a redirectable laser, and a bullet vacuum. These attacks in general are satisfying to use. The bomb is the usual screen-clearing mechanic that players can deploy in a pinch.
Sisters Royale features the Tension Bonus System that rewards players for being in danger. Players receive score multipliers for being next to enemies and bullets. Furthermore, approaching bullets considerably boosts players’ firepower. The flow of grazing enemy bullets is intuitive, and taking out enemies with enlarged shots is satisfying. Players can use summon attacks near enemies and bullets to generate more score-boosting coins, but using summons under enemy fire can be a bit tricky given their specific attack ranges. Nonetheless, the system is rewarding and relatively simple to grasp.
The game’s art and music are appropriately colorful and off-the-wall. Sonay, Selma, Ece, Nur, and Lale each have expressive 2D portraits, and the user interface is full of bold shapes. The stage environments also feature some vibrant terrain. Readability is also absolutely important in shoot-’em-ups, and the bullets’ striking purple is quite visible. While the characters’ models are relatively basic, their exaggerated movement has a lot of charm. The music’s upbeat nature is appropriate for the game’s wacky setting, and the sound effects supplement the shooting action without being overbearing.
Some amenities and tweaks may have resulted in a more polished experience. For example, the lack of voice acting feels a bit odd given that many contemporary shoot-’em-ups feature some kind of voicework. While colorful, the stage backgrounds are all flat terrain, which is less visually engaging than the dynamic angles and wide-spanning landscapes of certain Castle Shikigami stages. The obstacles in Stages 2, 3, and 4 are also more gimmicky than necessary. These stages have slippery floors, fans that blow players towards a specific direction, and darkness that shrouds the playfield. Given that readability and movement are rather important in bullet-hell games, having to deal with these obstacles on the fly feels a bit cumbersome. The script also contains numerous typographical errors and missing letters, which fortunately does not undermine the general whimsical tone. The mid-bosses are also rather plain shapes, which feels a little weird given the game’s character-driven action.
Sisters Royale is a relatively straightforward game, but it does feature a decent amount of replayability. Each run lasts about thirty minutes, but players can strive to progress as far as possible without continuing to really push their high scores. With three difficulties, five characters, and one downloadable character, the game also provides plenty of replay value and score attack opportunities. Sisters Royale also supports online leaderboards per mode and character to give players the chance to see how their runs measure against others. The game’s dialogue is also worthwhile as it contains plenty of amusing moments before stages as well as before and after boss fights. As everyone has distinct personalities, the sisters interact with each other in over-the-top ways that are certainly worth experiencing. For further replay value, the game also has an extensive Maniac options menu in which players can tweak bullet sizes and many other game variables.
Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire is a competently constructed shoot-’em-up that revolves around super-powered characters and a wacky premise. While the game ultimately sticks to established shoot-’em-up conventions, it is nonetheless entertaining with its roster of diverse playable characters. While parts of the experience could have used a bit more polish, the core game is satisfying and easy to pick up and play. Anyone seeking a straightforward bullet-hell experience would undoubtedly enjoy what Sisters Royale has to offer.
Sisters Royale sticks to established shoot-'em-up conventions, but it nonetheless provides an entertaining time with a diverse roster of characters. These characters' interactions and over-the-top firepower are amusing and worth experiencing.
Entertaining character dialogue
Easy-to-understand mechanics and empowering shot patterns
Provides plenty of replayability via characters and options
Gimmicky stage obstacles
Certain visual elements like backgrounds and mid-bosses are plain