Sine Mora EX, an overhauled HD version of the popular shoot’em up Sine Mora which was originally released in 2012 for the Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and iOS as a digital download, has now been revamped and re-released for Nintendo Switch and several other major platforms.
Though I am a big fan of classic shoot’em ups, in the past few years I have missed out on several great games as I have stuck mostly to physical releases. Now with the release of the Nintendo Switch and it’s open door policy for indie developers, I have been exposed to a plethora of incredible indie titles that I may have never looked at twice if it wasn’t for the Switch’s versatility.
This review will be for the Nintendo Switch version, however, it applies to all the other current platforms, except for the presentation portion in my review, as I have purchased the physical release of this game.
During my hunt and discovery of eShop titles on the Nintendo Switch, I was really looking for arcade style games, but many were ports of classic games I had played in the past. So instead of looking for arcade ports, I began digging further into the indie titles and found that THQ Nordic, had plans to release a modern shoot’em up, that we now know as Sine Mora EX.
I quickly discovered that this game had been previously released as simply Sine Mora back in 2012 on last gen consoles (+ PC, IOS) as a digital download. This one, however, would be a definite HD release for modern platforms, with the added salt EX at the end of the title. Furthermore, I was excited about the fact the game would also release as a physical game for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Thereafter I pre-ordered it for the Switch. However, I quickly realized that it was more expensive on the Switch than on the other platforms. I am not entirely sure why games ported or released on all major platforms somehow appear more expensive on the Switch. It’s a real a bummer. With that said, I still purchased the game on the Switch, as I still saw value in being able to save memory from a download and its ability to be played on the go.
There wasn’t a lot of promotion for this game up until its release so I was hoping we would get some decent packaging. Thay was not the case at all. The packaging was lacking any real art. The front of the sleeve had the new EX logo with a plain white background. The internal portion was even worse. There was no art at all with simple Nintendo warning, mumbo-jumbo crap no one cares for.
The fact that the upcharge was occurring on the Switch only, I was expecting some kind of extra, perhaps some art or a booklet. Nothing. THQ really missed an opportunity, as the game is filled with rich and colorful characters, stages and aircrafts, so placing some of those elements on the packaging itself other than the back, would have been a really smart move.
Getting past the lackluster packaging, the game itself is pretty impressive. This is the first time I have ever played a shoot’em up with such a dynamic range action happening both in the background and the forefront simultaneously. One would think that it would be expected, as we have advanced in graphics dramatically in the last 10-20 years, but this appears to be more than just a graphical showcase, it was a labor of love. The interaction with objects coming in and out of the background is just beautiful to look at, and the transition is incredibly smooth.
Other common aspects of the game, like weapon upgrades and button layouts, are respectively well done and feel familiar. However, one aspect I wasn’t expecting was how lives work in the game. The way you keep alive is based on the time limit use. If you get hit, you lose time and you have to chase down your weapon upgrades before they disappear. However, you gain time as you kill enemies. This on its own gives the game a level of difficulty not seen in other shoot’em ups, which feels fresh and new.
In addition, a bullet time mechanic was implemented to help maneuver through heaving fire. I feel like am repeating myself, but this is the first time I have seen this in a shoot’em up; it’s a tool I would have never thought would work, but it does brilliantly in this game.
THQ Nordic created a terrific world, with beautiful colors, and quick paced, back and forth action. The transitions from section to section, are very smooth, even while enemies are traveling forward from the background. Graphics in this game are top notch for something as simple as a side-scroller.
This is usually the part where I don’t give out too much information to prevent from spoiling a game. With that said, Sine Mora EX is one of the many titles, who is story driven. Old school shoot’em ups are mostly arcade-centric, where the plot or story is an afterthought. But with Sine Mora EX, is different. There is deep and rich, but dark, story, that band-aids each level as you progress.
One downside is that, well, it’s a shoot-em up that is story driven. The plot can sometimes drag on between levels, which sometimes becomes hard to follow. Luckily, there is an arcade mode you can play, after you unlock levels, that allows you play without having to deal with the story.
If you’re curious how a shoot’em up game can work with a prolonged story, well this is the game I recommend for just that.
When it comes to replay value, it differs per console. I say that because it is currently only portable on the Switch. There are several options to keep you from coming back, as you see listed here to the left. However, those are pulled out from THQ and exaggerated in the fact that mentioning 7 levels isn’t much of a feature. The online portion and different modes are a plus. Especially the Arcade mode. However, you will get through these extras fairly quickly, and if you don’t have a Switch to keep you coming back for small plays at a time, I don’t see many players going back to play this game. The online is fun but becomes repetitive quickly. I am only really giving the replay value a decent score because this review is directed at the Switch version. I still play levels while I’m hanging out at my desk, drinking coffee at the dining table, and sitting on the John (TBH).
Though the replay value is low and the story can drag on a bit, Sine Mora EX is an incredibly fun game with an outstanding soundtrack. I would recommend this game for all platforms, but especially to Switch owners who are looking for games that can be played in small doses.