Red Siren: Space Defense is a 2018 mobile game that has recently been ported to Switch. Mobile ports have had mixed fortunes on Nintendo’s console, so it will be interesting to see how this one fares. In a wartorn future, players take control of a battleship from Red Siren combat squad, tasked with protecting humanity’s scant resources from raiders. Its mobile roots are evident in the simplicity of gameplay, combining twin-stick shooting with elements of tower defense. Players are free to move around the side-scrolling levels as they choose, destroying enemy ships and robots that approach on set paths.
The game begins easily enough, maneuvering with the left stick and firing your machine gun with the right. To make things even simpler, your machine gun will auto target when you get close enough. As you progress things start to get much more difficult. Enemies will approach your base from both sides, meaning you’ll be forced to prioritise if you want to stop them damaging anything. They’ll also come in greater numbers and be equipped with shields. To counteract this you can upgrade and unlock extra ships and weapons. These new weapons are mapped to the shoulder buttons, and each has a different firing trajectory and cooldown. Their firing trajectory can take some getting used to, and there were a number of times I lost a mission because of projectiles firing in odd directions.
The mobile roots of the game do begin to show here, as you will have to do some grinding if you want to unlock the best equipment and beat Red Siren. Unlike the free-to-play mobile game you won’t have the option of microtransactions to speed up this grind, which could be a plus or a minus, depending on your feelings.
The game only features a single campaign, which is relatively short. Each mission features three challenges you can complete for bonus money, one of which is always “complete the mission”. Some of the others you’ll complete anyway, such as “shoot down 7 jets”, others may take a little more work, such as “complete the mission in X seconds”. I’d have liked to have seen at least one other mode of play here, such as a randomly generated endless mode or similar.
The game does look great. The backgrounds are layered, effectively giving the impression of a 3D world. Ship and enemy designs are also solid. There is however some issue with the uprezzing for Switch, and it actually looks much better in handheld mode than on the big screen. Additionally, there are only a few level and enemy designs, so you’ll swiftly stop appreciating them with all the repetition.
I suppose my overall feeling on this game is one of a missed opportunity. The gameplay, while simple, is fun. The art style is also good. But there is so little content, and what is there is hidden behind a grind. For that reason, this is a short review. It’s a game I might go back to when I have a spare few minutes, but I can’t say anyone should rush out and buy this, particularly when you can play it for free on mobile.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*