Observe: On the time of writing, gross sales of Mushihimesama on the EU Swap eShop have been briefly suspended. Writer Dwell Wire has acknowledged that it’s going to return to the shop “within the close to future”.
Arcade shoot-em-ups within the Nineteen Eighties might have began out as largely science fiction, however there have lengthy been efforts within the style to distinguish video games with distinctive themes. One of the crucial fascinating of those is Cave’s Mushihimesama (“Bug Princess”), which takes place in a world stuffed with huge bugs. It was initially launched in 2004 within the arcades, with a middling 2005 PlayStation 2 conversion, an iOS port in 2011, after which lastly an HD launch for Xbox 360, Home windows, and now the Swap.
The heroine is Princess Reco, who rides on high of an unlimited beetle, which capabilities as the sport’s participant craft. At its core, the sport is a bullet hell shooter in the identical vein as practically each different launch from Cave, as you weave by means of dense patterns of pink bullets whereas accumulating level objects and racking up excessive scores. There are three completely different shot sorts you’ll be able to choose on the outset, together with two choice formations that present additional firepower once you seize their related power-ups.
Whereas the motion is initially overwhelming, you’re aided by a small hitbox – you’ll survive any assault so long as the bullet doesn’t cross by means of the centre of your vessel, which helpfully glows once you focus your hearth. You even have a restricted provide of bombs that not solely trigger additional destruction, but in addition negate all assaults on the display and allow you to escape from hazard. There may be some slowdown when the display will get actually packed, although this was deliberately left in from the arcade recreation because it lets you squeeze by means of the extra troublesome bullets. The sport provides limitless continues, although the last word purpose is both to beat all 5 phases with out utilizing any extra credit or beat your individual excessive rating.
The spotlight of Mushihimesama, although, is its acquainted but distinctive worldview: as a substitute of tanks there are creepy-crawling bugs with turrets on their backs; as a substitute of artillery there are toxic vegetation; and as a substitute of aeroplanes there are huge flying bugs. Battleships are widespread enemies in shoot-em-ups, however right here the whole third stage is dedicated to taking out an unlimited multi-segmented lobster-esque monstrosity – it’s all like one thing out of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime movie ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind’. The motion is accompanied by an intensely upbeat soundtrack courtesy of Manabu Namiki and Masaharu Iwata, composers of different legendary shoot-em-ups like Ketsui and Battle Garegga.
Whereas lengthy the favorite of hardcore shoot-em-up followers, Mushihimesama marked one among Cave’s makes an attempt to market its intimidating video games to a broader viewers. A part of this technique concerned the impossibly perky teenage heroine, but it surely additionally provides three issue ranges selectable once you start the sport. Unique is the default mode, with barely much less thicker-than-normal bullet patterns, and a reasonably uncomplicated scoring system that principally revolves round grabbing gems and never dying. Maniac is a extra typical Cave bullet hell expertise, with extra intense (however barely slower) projectiles, and a combo system just like different video games like Dodonpachi. Extremely mode is so intense that the sport provides a warning once you attempt to choose it, with bullets which are so hostile you’ll probably be demolished inside seconds of beginning the primary stage.
Since Mushihimesama has been across the block for some time, there have been a handful of additional modes added through the years that change up bullet and enemy patterns and have completely different scoring strategies. Most of those are included right here within the Swap port, together with the Ver 1.5 mode, which was solely included in different releases as DLC. The Organize mode provides you great firepower proper at first and a beneficiant combo system that permits you to get hold of stratospheric factors, together with the power to modify between weapon sorts at will.
The Ver 1.5 mode makes additional tweaks, like the power to hoover up gems on the bottom, and an choice to present your self max energy at first in alternate for extra intense enemy assaults. These modes have completely different soundtrack preparations, with three in whole, and the Ver 1.5 music by Ryu Umemoto (Yu-No, Akai Katana). Additionally, whereas the sport was initially meant to draw a wider viewers, the sport’s nonetheless fairly troublesome for these unaccustomed to bullet hell shooters, so the Novice mode makes issues fairly a bit simpler and can permit even newbies to see the top with out having to consistently feed credit.
Past the 4 modes, there’s additionally a rating assault together with an internet leaderboard – the opposite variations of this port additionally allow you to view uploaded replays from excessive scorers, however on the time of writing these capabilities haven’t but been activated. A follow mode enables you to tweak your weapons and play particular ranges, too. You may as well select a vertical display orientation to extra carefully match the unique arcade monitor, which is particularly useful when utilizing the Swap in transportable mode, particularly with an adjunct just like the FlipGrip.
No matter points that exist are minor nitpicks. The sport solely options the high-res sprites which were utilized in all the HD ports, fairly than the 240p visuals of the unique arcade model, however they’ve a computer-rendered look that makes them look higher in greater resolutions anyway. (In all probability on account of this, there’s no choice for scanlines, since they solely make sense for low-resolution output.) The port isn’t fairly as absolutely featured as different Cave video games within the M2 ShotTriggers line like Ketsui or ESP Ra.De., but it surely’s nonetheless strong whereas additionally being considerably cheaper, and can be wonderful from a technical perspective. Not everybody goes to dig the aesthetics, significantly these postpone by both the otaku bait protagonist or the plethora of creepy bugs, however you’ll be able to’t say it isn’t authentic. And whereas the sequel — Mushihimesama Futari — is barely higher, that is nonetheless a implausible title.
There’s a purpose why Mushihimesama is considered one among Cave’s greatest shoot-em-ups – it’s bizarre and vibrant, it’s extremely refined, and the numerous gameplay modes make sure that each newbies and veterans shall be stored busy for fairly a while.