Trouble Witches Neo was released slap, bang in the middle of my Deathsmiles addiction. I bought it simply because it was a bullet hell shooter but it remained stuffed away on my hard drive for months before I took notice of it.
The over-the-top anime trappings, sugary sweet characters and lime-flavoured bullets are initially hard to stomach. But underneath the bright visuals, bizzare voice acting and woeful story, lies a decent enough shooter but one which lacks the verve and guile of Cave's best work.
Along with the standard shooting action, the player is able to throw up a barrier to protect their flying witch from enemy fire - but this supernatural shield is also used to raise the player's score.
Any bullets entering this zone are slowed down, while taking out their source turns all bullets into a shower of coins. These not only give your score a welcome boost - they can also be spent buying special attack cards from a floating shop which drifts by every level.
The visuals are a mixed bag and lie somewhere between old side-scroller Cotton and Cave's Deathsmiles.
While the animated backgrounds are excellent, the hand-drawn main characters and enemies are slightly disappointing. This is especially true of the game's bosses, which are - for the most part - bland, box-shaped and uninspiring. Even the appearance of a flummoxed goldfish fails to get the pulse racing.
For 800 Microsoft points, though, Trouble Witches Neo offers decent enough entertainment but it falls short when compared to other, more established titles.