A new addition to the Switch's growing shoot 'em up library, Beekyr Reloaded takes a break from the usual space-themed carnage, instead, casting players in the role of a bee tasked with retrieving pollen that has been stolen by evil hornets. Think of a cuter and easier version of Insector X on the Mega Drive, and you're pretty much on the right lines.
Beekyr is a pretty basic affair, blasting away at bugs and insects through a series of horizontally-scrolling stages. The usual power-ups and extra powerful bombs can be collected, but with only one weapon and a single upgrade route available, progression feels kind of underwhelming. We were fully upgraded somewhere around the second stage, after which there seemed little point to chase after any of the tokens we came across.
At the end of each level, after dispatching a larger than usual enemy, a brief vertical stage appears where Beekyr needs to shoot the baddies and collect pollen to build up a meter before shooting the boss. It's more of a mini-game than an actual level, but it's a welcome addition that breaks up the main game. This is followed by a vertically-scrolling ‘interlude’ where Beekyr flies from the top of the screen down to the bottom, which is certainly quite a rarity in the wider shmup catalogue. Again, hats off to the developers for trying something different.
The game consists of four stages (although apparently the third one is hidden and we didn't manage to find it during our half a dozen play-throughs), each of which is relatively short and easy until the final stage where the difficulty ramps up pretty quickly. Sometimes, the level itself can be more of a problem than the actual enemies, as it's often difficult to tell the difference between which parts of the environment are hazards and which are just part of the background. It's even possible to get completely blocked by the environment without warning, with what appears at first to be a regular path through the level suddenly getting narrower to the point where it closes off completely, leaving players with no choice but to crash and lose a life.
Local co-op is available, and with several unlockable difficulty settings and a couple of additional characters, there's definitely scope for repeated play-throughs. Other than a couple of questionable design issues, everything is ultimately fine although it really does land on the more basic side of the fence. We might hesitate to fully recommend this one to hardcore shoot 'em up fans, but Beekyr Reloaded would make a decent entry point for younger players or newcomers to the genre.
BEEKYR RELOADED / DEVELOPER: KALEIDO GAMES / PUBLISHER: AKAONI STUDIO / PLATFORM: SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW