Sometimes it’s nice to know what you’re getting. After Wave: Downfall makes its identity clear in the opening sentence of its Nintendo product page. It’s “an arcade shooter where the player battles against monsters, completes various missions with a cool battleship.” If this sounds like your kind of game, keep reading.

The little plot for the action is mainly presented via a screen of text at the start with a very short accompanying cutscene. In a nutshell, aliens from outer space invade Earth; pretty standard. What makes things somewhat unique is that they’ve dropped a meteorite, flooding the Earth and turning the animal life crazy via radiation. This allows After Wave: Downfall to have a fun aquatic setting and some water-based enemies you don’t usually see in a shmup.

After Wave: Downfall offers three difficulties for gamers of varying skills or interests. Between all the enemies and firepower, there can be a ton of onscreen activity. Thankfully upgrades let you manage things. In time, you can increase your HP and shooting damage, reduce energy loss during collisions, and strengthen your power bombs, to name just a few. You can also practice each level ahead of time.

Like many shooters, it can get repetitive, but there’s more beyond the story. Arcade mode ups the intensity for those who put a premium on difficulty. There are also extra modes, most of which need to be unlocked. One early example is a mode that plays more like a runner as you ship is sans firepower. With achievements to earn, characters to unlock, and local leaderboards, the content is fair for the $14.99 cost, presuming you’re a fan of the genre. If you have someone to enjoy local co-op with, it’s even better, providing further replayability.

The game has the appearance of the sort of title that would’ve been released during the late Nintendo 64 or early Dreamcast era. The cartoony presentation is lively, though probably not diverse enough. Though dated, occasional perks like the camera angle changing during non-interactive transition scenes or zooming in on bosses are pretty cool. With so much action it’s not like you’ll stop to take in the sights much anyway. 

Musically, there isn’t a whole lot of variety, but it’s fittingly epic-sounding without becoming annoying. While thematic to the genre, I do wish it matched better with the water theme. You can adjust both the music and sound effect volumes individually.

Though not the flashiest, After Wave: Downfall is a pretty good release for fans of the shooter genre. While it has a dated look, the water theme and enemy diversity make it a somewhat unique game that I’d recommend for co-op players. While tackling it solo is less enjoyable, there’s more than enough to keep you busy here, and you’ll have to play for quite a while before you unlock everything.