When an artificial intelligence escapes from its laboratory and flies out against military forces in a fight to survive, Ghost Guidance inadvertently gives us something the world has never seen before: a SHMUP story that makes sense!
The usual SHMUP (SHoot eM UP) motivation usually follows the lines of massive armada versus your hideously overpowered ship. Nobody has played one of these games and not considered if this would have been a war at all if your side only had two or three more of these powerful craft. But Ghost Guidance turns the idea on its head. First, you do not have a craft to speak of. Instead, as a floating AI 'virus' you can invade the guidance systems of a ship, essentially taking over control of its firing and navigation systems. This is a useful ability as the military will try and shoot you out of the sky before you can make it to safety. Every time they blow up the ship you possessed, you can leapfrog into another craft—even missiles.
Ghost Guidance is certainly shaking the genre up with these new approaches, but unfortunately it doesn't hold onto some other SHMUP traditions that would suit it perfectly. There are very few enemy types and no power-ups to speak of. In fact, with the exception of boss fights, you can simply dodge incoming attacks most of the time. It also lacks the pattern-spotting tradition of the genre: bullets are slow and infrequent (yet at times ridiculously everywhere) and while boss ships have sequences, they are hardly a challenge. With the last boss you hardly need to move at all. A rudimentary survival mode adds to the challenge quota, but it lacks a smack of adrenaline.
But these shortcomings makes Ghost Guidance feel like a concept or some kind of prequel teaser. It adds some interesting adjustments to SHMUP mechanics and fans should be keen to see what the developers come up with next. This spark of ingenuity is what props Ghost Guidance up and gets it featured here.