Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo does not make a good first impression. It is heinously ugly and most of the art assets are hopelessly amateurish. The story illustrations resemble middle-school level weeb craftsmanship- the kind of render made by a kid who is first learning to use Corel Painter for the first time.
Colors are garish and poorly combined to make so truly repulsive tapestries that are a mess of clashing hues. There is no thought put into lighting or depth at all, making for a confusing image. Even the in-game sprites are messily drawn and overly-busy designs that are impossible to decipher.
Despite all the hang-ups anybody might have with these vulgar art assets, Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo is still a righteous shootem-up because it manages to get everything else right. It is easy to point and laugh at the graphics, but what does this game excel at? Find out in our Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo review!
Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo
Publisher: Hanaji Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: November 3, 2022
Price: $14.99 USD
Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo is rotten with all the markings of a doujin game. The developer is seemingly a programmer first and an artist a distant twelfth, but the lone developer deeply understands what makes for a good shooter.
It may not look like much, but Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo plays very well. The “mecha”, which could be anything, all have very finely tuned controls. Movement is very fluid and responsive, with each craft having their bespoke stats and playability.
There is a difference when tapping the fire button, versus holding it down. It changes the the attack to a totally different pattern and also throttles the ship’s speed to a crawl to make maneuvering around bullets easier.
This makes it so players are effectively shifting between gears while shooting and makes the experience more engrossing than the average shooter.
Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo is hypnotic with its patterns of abstract design enemies and controlling your ship, weaving in and out of the line of fire. Speeding up and slowing down, blasting everything that moves, all of which make the score multiply into absurd figures.
It is easy to get absorbed by the stimulating action and the better you do, the harder Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo becomes. There is a scaling difficulty mechanism in place and its tied to player performance.
The faster enemies are wiped out and the longer the player goes without getting hit- more challenging routes open up with unique battles.
Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo has a lot of bosses (about 40), many of which can only be fought with heat levels or ranks are high. Some routes can be accessed when a boss is defeated very quickly, making replay value very high.
While the designs of these bosses don’t make any sense and it is impossible to understand what it is you are even looking at, fighting them always is a highlight.
There is always a stray power-up to collect from a defeated foe, just when you need it most. This always keeps the action flowing and makes it feel like you just might make it to the next phase.
It is not clear what Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo is about. The crudely drawn anime style screens tell a story about some brainy tart who made a robot that might be humanity’s last chance for survival.
The story could be anything and it will never matter because of the stark contrast of visuals from the in-game graphics looking nothing like the cutscene art.
There is no consistency between any of it- not that it matters because there isn’t a soul on Earth who would play any shoot ’em up for its story.
What Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo has to offer is exceptionally polished mechanics, not a compelling narrative or inspiring visuals. Of all the artistic elements that are lacking, surprisingly the soundtrack is pretty good.
It sounds like a techno bop of Atari sounds and thumping Euro-beat. This driving music is a contributing factor towards the hypnotic qualities of Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo.
When playing late at night, the crushed and crunchy audio of blasting targets into pixels while an electrifying beat plays in the background is nostalgic to a time when you secretly stayed up past your bed time.
Something like Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo is a tough sell for most gamers. It’s price may seem high for a game that looks like it was made by a amateur, but it makes up for it by having exceptional playability and deep gameplay for a shoot ’em up.
What it lacks in visual appeal, it makes up for in depth and polish. It is too bad that Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo doesn’t excel in all aspects. If it did, it could rival some of the best shooters that Treasure is known for.
Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Hanaji Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo is now available for Windows PC (via Steam) and Nintendo Switch.