Pawarumi has all of the great hallmarks of a classic shmup. Waves and waves of bullets result in a neon hellscape of pink dangers for your pilot to avoid as you spray your own brightly colored weaponry in an effort to clear each level. Don’t be misled, however, by the seemingly simple description of Pawarumi. Your space ship – the Chukaru – is of the super special variety, after all, and is properly fitted with a weapon literally known as the Triple Mechanic.
What makes the Chukaru’s Triple Mechanic so fancy is that it is fitted with three specific color coded modes. Each color is button mapped to its corresponding face button – red is B, green is A, and blue is X. On the surface, the most obvious way to use the Triple Mechanic is to simply match the color of the weapon to the color of the enemy you’re trying to take out. In a way, you’re not entirely wrong if you approach Pawarumi that way, but you’d be missing out on some of the Triple Mechanic’s most useful elements. The Mechanic has three specific modes in addition to its color coding system, described as Crush, Drain, and Boost.
When the Chukaru is in Crush mode, things get a little twisted with green ammo doing more damage to red enemies, while red ammo puts blue enemies down faster, and blue ammo does the same for green enemies. This concept spreads to the other modes, as well, with Drain using enemies you take out to refill your super attack, and Boost mode helping you to refill your shield so that you can keep on trucking.
The Triple Mechanic color combinations are the closest thing to power ups that Pawarumi has on offer, and that can be both a blessing and a curse. If you find yourself in a position where your shield is already dramatically depleted, it can be dangerous to put yourself in an enemy’s line of fire in hopes of draining a little extra life from them but it is also nothing short of necessary as there are no other ways to refill your shield bar.
This leads to us addressing the biggest downfall for Pawarumi. The difficulty spike in this game is out of this world, and even though there are difficulty options like Easy and Normal, the game is still incredibly punishing. Once your shield is depleted, it’s game over and you’re back to the very beginning. No checkpoints, no extra lives to be earned, just one good run. The biggest difference between each difficulty is how much damage is inflicted upon you should you get too close to the enemy’s neon pink projectiles, but even on easy difficulty the amount of shield lost to a hit can be devastating. To add insult to injury, players who just want to experience Pawarumi’s story on Easy are completely blocked off from the game’s fifth and final chapter, as it can only be unlocked and accessed if you are playing on Normal difficulty or higher.
If you do manage to have enough sanity to get through Pawarumi’s campaign, and you’re masochistic enough to want more of the game’s brutal difficulty then you may be left a bit disappointed. Pawarumi doesn’t offer anything in the way of additional game play modes. No challenges, time trials, or anything else. The entire game is confined to just the campaign, and even as beautiful as it is you’re not likely to be picking the game up for a second play through.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher