I like to think that, given how many different kinds of games I've played in my life, that I'm open to even the strangest genres that exist on the fringes of the gaming landscape. I've played my share of fighting games, though I wouldn't call myself very good at any of them, and I've dabbled in side-scrolling shooters. I couldn't name you every weird Cave- or Treasure-developed bullet-hell shooter, but if I could, I'd probably be so deep into that style of game that I'd have written this review years ago for the PC version of Acceleration of Suguri. Billed as an indie fighting/shoot-em-up hybrid, it's highly improbable that anyone could have stumbled upon this game without searching it out specifically. If it wasn't apparent enough from the title, Acceleration of Suguri X Edition is nearly incomprehensible at first glance, but for more reasons than just its foreign origins. There is some rather interesting gameplay and a few lines of humorous dialogue to be had, but the game doesn't try very hard to show you these things.
The premise is simple enough: anime girls shoot at each other inside a circular arena against a scrolling 3D background until someone's health bar is empty. You have seven characters to choose from, but differentiating them based on their looks is nearly impossible as the in-game sprites are tiny and the camera is usually zoomed out pretty far, with the action taking place at a distance. Thankfully the move sets are unique for every character, with the two attack buttons functioning differently depending on if they are simply pressed or held down. The attacks can also be modified if the “special” move button is held, and a devastating Hyper move can be executed once the Hyper meter has been filled at least once. While this all sounds pretty standard for fighting games, the game has no way of conveying any of this to the player outside of a Button Configure screen. It took me over an hour with the game to realize that more than two attacks existed, but that's probably because most battles can be won on Easy and Normal by staying in place and spamming the most basic projectile attack which usually homes in on the enemy. No tutorial or how-to-play options are present, but they are unnecessary unless you're looking to play on Hard or beat the final story mode bosses. I figured out on my own that I needed Hyper meter in order to use the Shield, but never grasped the purpose of a Heat percentage that went up when using boost. It's disappointing that even a single screen of text could have explained everything that game has to offer but was never included. This is only one of several reasons that the production values feel so low.
So is the entire game just making these seven tiny girls shoot at each other inside of a visible ring? Pretty much. The arcade mode features three difficulties, but you'll want to play on at least Normal to unlock the easy trophies. There are two “story modes” that feature an opening with some text-only dialogue before a series of preset fights where you don't choose your character, and then an equally short ending. I chuckled at the story labeled “Pudding Deity” in spite of myself, but felt kind of ashamed afterwords. You can unlock some backstory for each character by playing as them in arcade mode, but the only motivation I could find for doing so was a gold trophy. There are local and online leaderboards if score tracking is your thing, as well as local two-player matches available, but I really can't imagine a competitive environment surrounding this game at all.
While I was ready to dismiss this game as utterly pointless at first, once I was able to figure out the controls the combat began to feel pretty fun. At least when fighting Hard AI that doesn't stand still for very long, I lost enough rounds to feel like I was being challenged and came back playing smarter. The art is inconsistent, with character portraits changing by mode and the sprites being unrecognizable. The music is somewhat catchy, and the sound effects are perfectly fine. While I wouldn't say that Acceleration of Suguri X Edition has any kind of staying power as a fighting game nor even the content to hold anyone's attention for more than a few hours, at least it is an interesting mix of genres and occasionally a visual treat with flashy, screen-filling attacks. But without the smooth character animations of a fighting game or the punishing challenge of bullet-hell shooters, it feels more like an experiment than a fully realized game. Perhaps a sequel would be able to elevate this hybrid out of its prototyping stage.