Graze Counter
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 7

Hop into the cockpit of your fighter and take down a virtual network that has evolved a little too much for its own good in this shoot ‘em up from Bikkuri Software. It offers non-stop action and a bullet grazing mechanic that forces you to risk life and limb to boost your score while unleashing devastating attacks. The 16-bit style of the visuals and audio offers a nice blast from the past for fans of the genre, but even newcomers can ease into the action thanks to a practice mode and selectable difficulty settings. The game is a little short for our liking and the style might not appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy a good shoot ‘em up you can do far worse than this one.

Gameplay: Being forced to skirt dangerously close to bullets instead of simply avoiding them makes for a frantic experience.

Graphics: The 16-bit visual style is charming, but might not appeal to those who didn’t grow up with the genre.

Sound: The soundtrack is good, but the sound effects lack a little punch

Summary 7.3 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Graze Counter

Developer: Bikkuri Software  | Publisher: Henteko Doujin | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Bullet Hell Shooter / Action | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam

When humanity discovers a way to convert human consciousness into data, it opens up whole new avenues for communication. It’s not long before people start using this technology to create a virtual network for entertainment purposes. Unfortunately, at some point in the 23rd century, this virtual network, which is known as “EDEN,” locks out its administrator and takes the 2.4 million civilians connected to it hostage. In order to free the hostage, a secret government organization is tasked with sending their elite fighters to take down the evolved network. This can only be done by reaching the central “Tower” of the system, but in order to do so, they must first fight their way through the four zones of EDEN.

Graze Counter is a retro-style shoot ‘em up with a couple of tricks up its sleeve to entice fans of the genre. True to its name, the central mechanic of the game is your ability to graze enemy bullets and fill up your graze counter. To accomplish this, you need to get as close as possible to enemy bullets without actually taking a hit. Doing this is not just good for your score, but also allows you to unleash a devastating attack once you’ve filled the gauge. In addition to making mincemeat of your enemies, this counterattack also has the added benefit of turning their bullets into golden stars. These stars are definitely worth collecting as they fill up your “Break” gauge. Once fully charged, the Break Gauge can be emptied for an even more powerful attack along with a shower of score boosting red stars. These gauges, along with the fact that your score multiplier rapidly decreases when you are not actively grazing bullets, results in a game where you are constantly putting yourself in harm’s way. It is a constant cycle of risk and reward that is as addictive as it is exhilarating and definitely an experience that even jaded fans of the genre will enjoy.

Despite how intense Graze Counter might look, it is actually also quite an accessible title for newcomers to the genre. There are three difficulty levels to choose from and all the techniques that you need to succeed are drilled into you thanks to a handy mission mode. The inclusion of a “Practice” mode also allows you to hone your skills before going for the real deal. Unfortunately, with only five levels, Graze Counter might just be a little too easy for some. Even with a couple of big bosses standing in your way, it won’t take too long to see the ending credits scroll past. Thankfully, there are a couple of things that the developers included to increase the longevity of the game. These include six additional ships that can be unlocked to supplement the choice of two that you start with. These ships are not just new skins either, but bring their own pros and cons to the table, so mastering each of them is a new experience. Then there’s the “Omake” mode where you’ll find some additional challenges, such as a boss rush mode that throws you into a gauntlet of formidable foes to beat in succession.

Visually, it’s clear that the developers of Graze Counter have a fondness for the 16-bit era. Although the graphics probably won’t impress players who are not fans of shoot ‘em ups from the nineties, they certainly capture the look and feel of the era. Each level has it’s own theme, but backgrounds are kept simple on purpose to ensure that you have a better view of all the bullets heading in your direction. Enemy designs are also quite good and consists of the usual tanks and spaceships typically favored by the genre. The bosses aren’t too bad either, but you won’t encounter anything as memorable as what is found in games like R-Type or Darius. Due to the nature and style of the visuals they are not in high resolution or full-screen, but instead feature large borders on the sides. Just like the visuals, the soundtrack is a nostalgic throwback to the 16-bit era and complements the action nicely. We would have liked to hear sound effects with a little more impact, but what’s on offer sounds good enough and never becomes annoying.

Shoot ‘em ups definitely plays better with a good controller, so it’s good to see that Graze Counter supports gamepads and allow you to change the key configuration. We were unfortunately not able to bind any of the actions to the trigger or shoulder buttons of our Xbox 360 controller, but everything worked well enough using the face buttons. In addition to your primary fire button, you also have a button to activate your counter attack and another for the break attack. A separate button to enable slowdown can also be used, but switching the control scheme to “novice” mode combines this button with your shot button. This makes it easier to graze bullets and hit enemies while shooting, but veteran players will probably want to separate the two in order to make the game a little more challenging. While each ship has their own shooting style, the game doesn’t feature any weapon upgrades. You won’t encounter many power-ups either and instead a choice between a shield, boost multiplier or gauge refill occasionally appear.

The limited amount of levels and ease with which the game can be completed certainly counts against it, as does the lack of a two-player mode. However, it is an entertaining shooter with a reasonable price-tag and has plenty to offer fans of the genre. If you have fond memories of feeding quarters into an arcade machine during the nineties or blasting enemies out of the skies on your 16-bit console then Graze Counter will be a great addition to your library. For those who are not so sure, there is a free demo available that might be able to help you make up your mind. Overall, we enjoyed our time with the game and while it falls a little short of being a classic, it definitely doesn’t fail to entertain.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10
  • Processor: Celeron 1.2Ghz
  • Memory: 2000 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Onboard
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 1.5 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Onboard

Related posts

Sword Daughter

Sword Daughter

Follow Tyrna the Sword Daughter on a quest that might lead her to vengeance, treasure, glory, death or even love in this adaptation of the original gamebook. Although short, the 22 different endings add a lot of replay value and the game is worth it for the beautiful art style alone. It is a little heavy handed when it comes to romance and some of the story elements definitely shows their age, which is no surprise as the original gamebook was released way back in 1984. Despite its flaws the game is still quite enjoyable and well worth checking out. Gameplay: The story is straightforward, but has plenty of branching routes and a whopping 22 different endings. Graphics: The fantasy artwork might not be very animated, but it is quite beautiful. Sound: Not many tunes, but the ones on offer are very good.

Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness

Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness

The Ultima series provided the world with some truly groundbreaking games over the years and it is great to see the humble roots of such an excellent series. This EGA version has been given a new visual coat of paint compared to the monochromatic original, but still looks archaic compared to modern titles. However, the gameplay, although simplistic, can still entertain if you are able to look past the limitations. Whether you want to play it for nostalgic reasons or simply see what all the fuss was about, Ultima 1 should definitely be owned by all retro fans and RPG aficionados. Gameplay: Truly great for its time, but obviously it is very simplistic by modern standards. Graphics: Once again good for its time, but time hasn’t been too kind. Sound: Nothing more than noise.

Contrast

Contrast

The visual style is what drew me to Contrast but the clever puzzles and wonderful atmosphere is what kept me playing. Each new location was genuinely interesting to explore and the concept of switching between 3D and 2D planes mean you have to think out of the box sometimes. The latest patch fixed most of the launch issues and the result is an entertaining and memorable experience. Gameplay: Switching between 3D and 2D to solve puzzles is a unique and interesting twist. Graphics: The locations are larger than life and very memorable. Sound: Great voice acting and a stellar soundtrack.

Planet Diver

Planet Diver

Planet Diver is fast paced and very addictive when played in short bursts, but lack of mission variety does mean it can become repetitive. Still, you get a lot of content for a very low price which definitely makes it worth the investment in time and money. Just keep in mind that quick reflexes are required when braving the deep, obstacle filled chasms through which your wing suit diver loves to plunge. Gameplay: Fast paced, challenging and quite addictive although it can become repetitive. Graphics: It takes a while to get used to the retro style scanlines, but the overall effect is quite nice. Sound: The music is a little unusual, but very fitting.

Fort Meow

Fort Meow

Adorable cats and addictive physics based puzzle adventuring is a winning combination and ensures that Fort Meow will keep players hooked to the end. Building pillow forts out of all kinds of odds and ends is a blast and the physics based gameplay keeps things interesting. It is a little short for our liking, but fun from start to finish. Gameplay: Very addictive and features enough items to keep the fort building interesting. Graphics: The adorable children’s book style visuals look great. Sound: Some very catchy tunes to accompany the wacky action.

RefRain -prism memories-

RefRain -prism memories-

RefRain is a great shooter that strays a little from the usual formula to offer an action packed experience that is based more on skill than luck. Mastering the use of the M.E.F.A2 and Concept Reactor attacks are immensely satisfying and also allows you to play more aggressively. Players used to power-ups and weapon upgrades will find that RefRain has a bit of a learning curve, but this also provides it with more longevity and replay value. Overall, if you are a fan of the genre, then RefRain certainly doesn’t disappoint. Gameplay: Challenging, but very rewarding when mastered. Graphics: The designs are a little bland compared to other shooters, but the game is very colorful. Sound: Features a very fitting electronic soundtrack.

Leave a comment

7 + 18 =