1990’s retro chic
SWR JST DX Selective Memory Erase Effect, or Sword Justice Deluxe Selective Memory Erase Effect, as it’s also known, is one of those indie titles that tries to mimic games of old while still making a fresh new game and it nails it.
SWR made me feel like a kid again, something many games have tried and failed to do. Plus you get to play as a super cute robot cat controlled by an equally cute android girl. You could say this game is the (robot) cat’s meow.
SWR JST DX Selective Memory Erase Effect (PC)
Developers: Nekomura Games
Publisher: Nekomura Games
Released: April 20, 2015
SWR centers around Etta — a blue haired android girl with a low battery — controlling her robotic toy cat M1MI in an attempt to logout of an operating system gone rogue. M1MI can double jump, as well as do a close attack with his sword and throw knives to take out enemies from afar. Throwing knives are limited in number, but are strewn throughout levels and never run scarce. SWR is old school hard, one hit from any enemy or projectile ends the life of M1MI, luckily continues are infinite, no quarters required.
Rendered at the same resolution as arcade games of old, and intact with a high score counter on the top of the screen, Selective Memory Erase Effect would feel at home in a nice standing cabinet. Upon launching the game, text is displayed just like an arcade game would show upon being turned on and from then on the screen is persistently filled with beautiful pixel based art with a nice scanline filter.
Etta wonders aloud in cutscenes between stages where she sometimes has conversations with boss characters. Bosses plead with Etta to not log out of the system, as they have been enjoying their freedom from doing OS functions. Each baddie is designed around being a different part of the OS, such as a watchdog that would normally be an antivirus program, or a squid that would be the networking function. Upon their death, a colorful screen will be displayed showing the dead boss while music that would feel at home in a 1980’s drama plays. These scenes made me feel bad for killing them, though that clearly may have been the point. The bosses do warn that logging out could have a dangerous outcome giving the narrative a slight mystery element.
While SWR starts as a beautiful sidescroller, it changes up the formula a bit a few times: once for some underwater environments and again for a minecart level and even a boating stage. The minecart conceit, while fun, was easily the weakest part of the game. While automatically scrolling from left to right M1MI has to jump and duck to avoid randomly generated obstacles, all while boulders fall from the top of the screen. The randomness of the level caused multiple unavoidable deaths in an otherwise fantastic game.
SWR JST DX Selective Memory Erase Effect’s artstyle is what initially drew me in, and luckily the rest of the game was up to par as well. I was especially impressed with the attention to minor details that made it feel like an arcade game down to some graphical glitches that I hope were included purposefully to give it that arcade feel. The characters are interesting, the story was very enjoyable and for $5 it was well worth my two hour playthrough.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]