I’ve been a fan of Cave games for about 4 years now, after playing ESPGaluda and ESPGaluda II on a friends PC, and DonPachi on his PSX. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for any Cave titles I could find. Once they started hitting the AppStore, I knew I would be hooked for life. Now, after 6 iOS releases, 2 HD re-releases, and a whole hell of a lot a bullets, we finally have a BLACK LABEL version on the iOS. Bug Princess 2 (Mushihimesama Futari) Black Label. And I can finally find out what all the fuss is about regarding these Black Label versions of Cave games.
First off, the price. It’s not normally something I worry about too much, the AppStore is filled with dollar bin gems and ports of titles slashed down to less than a quarter of their original or other platform prices. Yes, a dollar here and there adds up, but when you can get between 20 and 60 games for the price of 1 XBOX or PS3 game, it’s very hard to complain. But is getting a different version of a game that’s already released on the iOS for double the price (or for the price of BOTH Mushihimesama AND Mushimesama Futari) of the original really worth it? When it comes to Cave, most fans will say ‘yes’, and in a heartbeat. Especially when the words BLACK LABEL are attached to the title.
Bug Princess 2 Black Label is basically like the original (vanilla) version. You’ve got 3 different gameplay modes, Original, Maniac, and the coveted God Mode. Then there’s the huge list of tweaks that are included in the Black Label version; Background colors have been changed, gems are darker, every mode contains more bullets and they’re faster, God Mode has been added while Ultra Mode has been removed, harsher penalties for bombing including a reduction of 6000 on the gem counter and a zero end game bonus if you finish the game with no bombs and Extends (Extra Lives) are different; 100 and 200 Million for Original Mode, 150 and 250 Million for Maniac Mode and 350 and 700 Million in God Mode.
The biggest changes are that every stage has numerous changes with the enemy and bullet placement and patterns, bullet patterns for the bosses have changed, are faster, and boss fights are harder, shot types are no longer available, instead you have a mix of Normal and Abnormal and a new TLB “Spiritual Larsa” has been added in God Mode if you no-miss (including the Stage 5 Boss Battle).
TLDR: It’s been completely re-done, and feels like a new Cave game.
The main reason Cave fans will probably wind up buying BP2BL is for God Mode. But once you actually get into the game, and see how much has changed, the new Original Mode, new bullet patterns, and new enemy layouts, chances are, you’ll get hooked all over again. The new Original Mode really stands out, as the difficulty at first glance doesn’t seem too impressive, especially when compared to God Mode, but after you get the hang of the scoring system, Original Mode becomes just as entertaining as God Mode. Needing to stay up in the top 1/3 of the screen for most of the game makes the difficulty shoot up, as does figuring out when and where enemies are going to pop out, and which ones give off large quantities of gems, which is how you shoot your score way up. All 3 of the modes have been equaled out, each having their own fantastic mechanics, not one of them being out-shined by the other, and each one offering up endless hours of replayabilty.
Control-wise, BP2BL is like any other Cave title. Relative touch controls with a 1:1 ratio. They’re some of the tightest controls you can have in a shmup, which is very important when it comes to bullet hell titles. Considering there’s literally thousands of bullets flying at you, being able to weave and dodge through them all is what it’s all about, and the developers over at Cave Mobile have done an outstanding job making sure that it’s as smooth and fluid as it can be.
With BP2BL being Universal, the graphics are a bit better than DeathSmiles and DoDonPachi Blissful Death, but not quite as impressive as the HD versions of ESPGaluda II or DDPR, which is kind of disappointing. Especially with BP2BL having an XBOX 360 version (Mushihimesama Futari Black Label), I was hoping that the graphics would be a little more clearer, but the menus, and dead zone around the gameplay area look super crisp and sharp.
Bug Princess 2 Black Label is basically a Cave title that will only appeal to hardcore Cave fans. With so many gamers complaining about the price tags of their previous releases, I doubt many of them would be interested in grabbing a $14 suped-up version of a game that they’ve already bought. But for extreme fans of the Bullet Hell genre, knowing that Mushihimesama Futari Black Label is one of the best, if not the best, Bullet Hell title you can expect to experience, and with copies of the game on the XBOX selling between $40 and $120, the price-tag isn’t really a deterrent. There are IAPs, but they’re set up like they are in DoDonPachi Blissful Death, all basically for cheating, and making the game easier (less fun). There is a Boss Mode, which takes you through the bosses of either BP1 or BP2, but you’re given 1 free play a day, so it’s not a required extra purcahse if you want to check it out, only if you want to play it more than once a day, which you might after you’ve gotten your fill of the main game. But by then, another $6.99 for the mode, and endless hours of entertainment will probably seem like a decent deal.
Here’s hoping BP2BL sells well, and that it pushes Cave to port over more of their Black Label titles; ESPGaluda II Black Label, DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu + Daioujou (Blissful Death) Black Label… I’d jump through hoops (actually, go to more severe extremes which I probably shouldn’t say) to have them all available in the AppStore.