Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire is a vertical shoot ’em up from Alfa System. Alfa System are most known for the Castle of Shikigami series of shoot ’em up games but it has also worked on one of the lesser known PS Vita classics from Sony in Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines. Sisters Royale is Alfa System’s first game since the Oreshika and it is a colourful and accessible shoot ’em up that debuted on PS4 and Nintendo Switch before recently arriving on Xbox One.

Sisters Royale’s story follows five sisters who are each trying to marry Yashin who is an angel. For this, the sisters battle it out to see who will win and go on to marry him. The battles are of course different stages in the shoot ’em up where each playable character you choose will face off against the other sisters, a doppelganger, and more in vibrant vertical shoot ’em up action. 

When it comes to the gameplay, Sisters Royale uses one of my favourite mechanics from other shoot ’em ups like Danmaku Unlimited 3. When you move closer to enemy attacks and enemies, your damage and score go up. The game calls this the Tension Bonus System. I love these high risk high reward style mechanics in arcade-style games. Each of the sisters plays very differently when it comes to attacks. This adds to the replay value. There’s even a DLC character available that has yet another attack style.

Each sister also walks towards the objective so there are obstacles on each stage that you have to navigate around while attacking enemies. This adds another layer of strategy which is always welcome in shoot ’em ups. There are also some stage hazards that affect your walking speed.

In terms of difficulty, Sisters Royale is definitely on the easy side. You have infinite continues and three difficulty options. A single playthrough for the story with a single character on normal should take you around half an hour. There’s a practice mode where you can set the amount of special bombs, lives, and score multiplier for coins you collect. You can use this to hone your skills or learn a level before beginning the actual story mode.

Visually, Sisters Royale has a lot going on for it. The core gameplay is in the middle of the screen with art, the health bars, score, and more displayed on either side. I was surprised to see that Sisters Royale supports changing the display orientation or Tate Mode even on Xbox One. This will definitely help players who own monitors that can be rotated. 

The one visual issue I have with Sisters Royale is that the environment and enemies can sometimes feel hard to tell apart. In many good shoot ’em ups, there’s a very distinct difference between everything on the foreground and the environment. Sisters Royale struggles with this sometimes making things look more busy than they are. This gets a bit more annoying considering that the sisters are actually walking towards the objective instead of flying like most shoot ’em ups. 

Just like the colourful visuals, the music is upbeat and suits the visuals well. While it isn’t anything special like the Darius soundtracks, the music gets the job done and never feels annoying even with how often certain tracks play.

Sisters Royale has one annoyance that seems to be a remnant of how the game was ported to Xbox One. Chorus Worldwide’s Coffee Talk also has the annoying account permission popup but you can still play the game by dismissing it. For Sisters Royale, the game wouldn’t let me get to the title screen until I accepted the account permissions it needed presumably for the leaderboards. Chorus Worldwide issued a statement for Coffee Talk’s permission already. Hopefully a future patch can make this optional.

Overall, Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire is a vibrant and accessible shoot ’em up that can be a good entry point for newcomers to the genre. It has a lot of replay value and the low asking price makes it an easy recommendation on Xbox One. Hopefully these ideas from Alfa System can be better realised in a sequel that increases the challenge. If you’re already a fan of the genre, there are much better shoot ’em ups on Xbox One like Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, and even the arcade classic from Hamster. For everyone else, Sisters Royale is a fun shoot ’em up that is worth your time with a few caveats.