XBLA Review: Sine Mora

Time-travel + Shoot’em up = Amazeballs!

Sine Mora is an attempt to revive the Shoot’em up genre by changing the fundamentals. Instead of taking damage by conventional health meters, you just lose time off a clock that counts down to your destruction.

The story is decent and mixes in time-travel for an edge; it’s just a little annoying that you have to read blocks of old-fashioned text to get the most of the plot. The main game can be done in a few hours, depending on difficulty, but it has tons of replay value. So if you can think of a hard-as-nails shooter like Ikaruga, you’ll be in familiar territory with Sine Mora when it comes to the arcade mode. It’s brutal, unforgiving and diabolically difficult as it slaps you with a 15 second time limit and enemies that explode upon defeat, while if you fail you will go straight back to the title screen.

Killing enemies adds time to the meter, while getting hit takes it away. You also find plenty of powerups to use against some of the gigantic bosses you face. Unfortunately you can only shoot straight, so you have to manoeuvre with a great level of skill to avoid the blasts heading to you. You can also slow down time to put in a lot of hits or to avoid a barrage of bullets. The levels look stunning and you can replay bosses at any point after beating a stage.

Visually, Sine Mora stands out and is probably one of the best XBLA games I’ve seen in action. The framerate is steady throughout and just little things like the beams look great. The boss design is also impressive, while the cutscenes do a decent job. Voice-acting is in Japanese, but I’m almost grateful as I would have hated to bitch about some cheesy voice actor.

The Verdict

Sine Mora is one tough cookie to beat. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it does a superb job in bringing life back to the Shoot’em up genre. It doesn’t just bring it back; it adds new elements to it that makes it a worthwhile purchase. So it may be a bit pricey at 1200 Microsoft Points, but believe me…it’s worth every penny.