Once the display was configured properly it was time to jump in and do some shooting. I was immediately grabbed by the game's striking visuals. While many shmups choose to focus on cold mechanistic designs, Futari opts for a more colourful approach, using a rich forest backdrop to move beyond the world of gunmetal and gray. Every aspect of the game world from the backgrounds, to animal influenced enemies and even the bullet patterns feels just. There's a natural flow to gameplay were you can feel at peace and Zen-like, even though you're on the edge of your seat and twitching. It's a strange sensation I've never felt before, but stands as a testament to Futari's through design and makes it an easy game to pick up and play over and over again. Musically the game is just as competent with soundtrack that again feels more natural and non-industrial. It's very melodic instead of beat focused, adding greatly to the overall peaceful atmosphere.
Before gameplay actually begins there are yet more options to decide. Will you be playing as Reco, the 15-year old rider of the golden beetle Kiniro, or will you take out young Palm and his dragon Hirow; and will you be using the Normal or Abnormal version of the character? Each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses; finding the set that best suits your play style will ultimately determine how you play. Once you've decided on a character there's still one last choice to make — do you play Original, Maniac or Ultra?
Original mode is sort of the vanilla version of the game. Enemies are the least dense and move slower, bosses die the quickest and scoring is all about playing the item collecting game. Kill an enemy and it drops some gems. Kill them with your bullets when the hundreds position on the overall gem counter is between 0-4, or the laser if it's between 5-9, and you get larger gems that are worth more. The higher your gem count, the higher your combo. If you die or bomb you’ll lose a healthy chunk of your counter so be warned. It's a simple system but it’s fun to play and forces you to try the different shot types. Once you’ve mastered Original it’s time to move on.