Straying a bit from traditional shooters, in this colorful game you command a series of flying sorcerers destined to take down evil ships, demons, rival sorcerers, and immovable objects. I stress immovable because unlucky first-timers will perish attempting to destroy them. Trust me, you won’t find much in the world of shooters more demeaning than dodging intense fire brigades and a flood of ships only to crash and burn due to a mighty wall.

Even if you avoid the walls, Castle of Shikigami III is insanely difficult. Losing all your credits on the first stage is quite normal for newcomers in the shooter series, and even avid players probably won’t finish the game unless they master the controls. Expert patience and timing amidst the constant on-screen chaos is everything in COS3, and with an equal amount of both you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment just for beating the first level.

COS3 blows you away with the constant array of crossfire enveloping the entire screen, barraging your mind as you dodge every shot. But while the nonstop action sequences are impressive, we’ve seen this before, and better, in Treasure’s Ikaruga.

Castle of Shikigami III doesn’t really seem like it belongs on the Nintendo Wii. Graphically, we don’t find much “next-generation” visual dominance, but more of a subtle, realistically drawn art style. The game definitely shines in its subtleties, and in its hilarious, terrible dialogue, awarding some laughs to those who pass levels just to gain story sequences.

The visuals may be subtle, but the plot is just bad. After a good week of play I managed to successfully finish the game—and I’ve got no clue what the story is about. COS3’s dialogue provides some laughs, but the reason why you’re blowing up everything in sight remains a mystery throughout the entire play-through.

COS3 follows its predecessors exactly—it’s a nearly-impossible shooter where your sorcerer must blow up everything on-screen to progress. While this simple concept of the single fighter against an armada has worked in the past, most gamers now shun the idea of dropping money on such an ancient formula.

Still, not too many traditional shooters come along in the gaming market these days. This game’s high points are found in its traditional approach and glorified usage of simple shooter techniques, but with that you also have horrible voice acting and an incomprehensible plot.

Consider this to be a personal challenge: You can finish this game in under an hour, but might spend weeks trying to complete the campaign mode. If this sounds like fun to you, pick up this classic shooter (with some new twists) to prove you can beat it. If not, then you’re clearly not cut out for the shooter genre.

What does this score mean? Check out our review scoring breakdown.