Call it a “cute-em-up” if you will, but there’s something neat and special about Horgihugh and Friends. Part cartoon and part hardcore shooter, Horgihugh is a work of pure imagination. Playing through it, I was reminded of the classic TaleSpin cartoons (sorta), as well as the old-school Namco game Ordyne. It pulls off a neat trick with the appearance of a thrilling shooter, but wrapped around a mold that all ages can enjoy.

Following a war, two countries decide to take apart their weapons. However, the Gozareans didn’t get the message and decide to unleash an all-out attack on their peaceful allies. It’s here that Horgihugh and his cat buddy must take to the skies and stop their assault before innocent animals pay the price!

Despite the somewhat paperweight plot, Horgihugh won us over. Here’s how!

Horgihugh and Friends Hardcore But Not Hard

The difficulty of Horgihugh takes a slight bit of getting used to on higher settings. However, if you go with easy, you’ll find something that’s easier, especially for kids. The youngens will have a great time with the game then, while the players that eat “shmups” for breakfast (you eat “shmups” for breakfast?!) can continue to do so.

Part of the game’s true charm lies in its controls. It handles great for a classic shooter of this type, to the point that you won’t drift and you have full-on accuracy of your ship. What’s more, there are power-ups aplenty, and the game really opens up as you become fully powered, a pup with a purpose.

There’s also a superb co-op option, so you and a buddy can master the skies together and split the power-ups accordingly. That way, you can dominate the skies! It’s local only, I’m afraid, but still a good time if you need a fun game to play with the kids. With so many difficulty settings and various boss battles to conquer (which can take some practice), you’ll have a good time overall.

This Puppy’s Looking Good

One other thing that works to Horgihugh’s advantage are the cute visuals. Designed by Kou (the legend behind Mega Man X2 and Shantae), the visuals really pop onto the screen with a fantastic Japan-themed vibe. The scrolling backgrounds are excellent, the animations are cute, and even the menacing boss enemies have some imaginative design to them. It all comes together pretty nicely, though things do get rather hectic on the screen with two players fully powered-up. You were warned.

Along with that, the music, put together by maestro Motoaki Furukawa (Gradius II, Policenauts) is refreshing and fun to listen to, along with the cute sound effects. That said, you do want to keep an ear open during boss battles, so you can tell if you’re doing damage to them or not. (There’s no flashing indicators here, so just keep firing).

Horgihugh and Friends, Thankfully, Doesn’t Go To the Dogs

What a neat little game Horgihugh and Friends is. The 16-bit vibe that Aksys Games has put into this product is utterly refreshing, both in visuals and sound. On top of that, the controls handle nicely, and even with some slightly difficult parts, the game delivers high-end fun for players of all ages. Not to mention the options available and the cool power-ups you can pick up from the floating ship shop. (Hey, beats paying rent on the ground.)

Horgihugh and Friends is a sheer treat and a must for fans of “shmups” or those looking for a fresh new game to play alongside family and friends. We assure you that you aren’t headed into…ruff territory.

Gamerhub RATING: 4/5 stars

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