Recently, Japan saw the release of a new Madoka Magica video game on the Vita. As I was playing, I decided to look around for other Madoka games -- and the fan-game Homura Combat really caught my eye.
When it comes down to it, Homura Combat is similar in concept to the Earth Defense Force series: You run around a city in third person, gunning down invaders with a variety of weapons. Of course, this being a Madoka Magica fan-game, you are controlling a magical girl and the fighting witches and their minions from the anime instead of controlling a soldier and fighting insectoid aliens and mechs.
You start the game with only two weapons -- a machine gun and a rocket launcher -- but as you slaughter hordes of witchy minions, you'll find new weapons among their corpses ranging from shotguns to hand grenades.
But the real fun of the game is Homura's ability to stop time. When time is stopped, you are able to move and shoot; however, your bullets won't begin moving until you re-start time. This allows you to create crazy kill-zones and awesomely complex attacks. It also lets you run away when you find yourself backed into a corner and need a quick escape.
Of course, you can only stop time for so long before you run out of magic; but after your time stop attack goes off, there will doubtlessly be enough healing items in the resulting pile of bodies to restore your magic to full.
On the normal difficulty, the game starts easy -- very easy as the enemies do nothing but try to get within melee range. However as the game goes on, the difficulty goes up and nearly becomes a bullet hell game with all the projectiles you need to dodge.
On the downside, the enemy AI is painfully simple -- get in range and attack -- and it has more than a little trouble with getting caught on corners. I also experienced some clipping errors in the game and once even fell through the map to my doom.
All in all, Homura Combat is a fun little time-waster if you have an hour or two free. While I repeatedly decided that the next level I played would be my last, I found myself always continuing -- doing one more level to try out a new weapon or face a new enemy.
Homura Combat was sold at 2011's Comiket 81 for 900 yen (about $10) and can now be found on various Japanese auction sites. An updated edition, Homura Combat: Blaze is also available for those who can find it. And if you think $10 is a bit much for a game like this, let me tell you it was worth the price of admission alone to be locked in a small room with dozens of bunny-cats and a deadly, explosive arsenal.
To see what Homura Combat looks like in action, check out the video above.