Shmups have really seemed to expand outwards and spawn some new and interesting genres, especially since the introduction of the AppStore. Dodging games like FlipShip, Tilt To Live and Silverfish; Dual-Stick exploration like Isotope and Inferno; Survival games like ElectroMaster, even the endless genre has been touched resulting in games like Hypership Out Of Control and the wave-based Enborn-X.
Taking a page out of ElectroMaster’s book, and expanding even more on it, 2dgames.jp has recently released their bullet hell survival/dodger, Tameuchi.
Tameuchi is a bit strange, well, it’s not very surprising that it’s a bit strange, it’s created by Japanese developers who obviously have a taste for the cute and out of the box thinking. You control a little girl up against wave after wave of purple jelly looking creatures, milkboxes, pudding, and more who all seem to have a wide array of bullets and projectiles all ready to take you out. The good news is, you’ve got an endless supply of bullets, can fly, have proper shielding, can level up, and are able to regain health by collecting bananas.
The controls, like most iOS games, are fairly simple. To move, you just need to touch down anywhere on the screen, and drag your finger in the direction you’d like to move. While you’re doing this, you’ll be charging up your bullets. Once you let your finger off of the screen, your bullets will be released, and the carnage will begin.
As you collect green and yellow bananas, your projectile charge bar, and health will be regenerated, you’ll also be able to level up as you progress throughout the game, killing everything in sight. Once you level up, your charge gauge will get bigger, and your projectiles will get stronger, being able to take out more and more of the ever increasing onslaught of enemies. As your rank goes up, the enemies will get stronger, and more of them will attack you all at once. Their bullet patterns will also get more complex. What really helps out, is that while you’re charging your bullets, you’re able to suck up some of the smaller bullets with your charge shield. However, you can only absorb a certain amount before you wind up taking damage. Also working in your favor, once you defeat the milk carton, or pudding, all of the bullets on the screen turn into collectible bananas.
Priced at $0.99, it’s a fantastic game to pick up if you’re a fan of the slightly weird Japanese gaming culture, or are into dodging/bullet hell titles. The only bad things I can say about the game is that there is only one game mode, it’s not Universal, though, the game still looks great in 2X mode, and there’s absolutely no leaderboards. That’s right, not even local boards, it does save your highest score, which is a plus, but nothing else. GameCenter integration, as well as more modes would make Tameuchi one hell of a game. But for 2dgames.jp first at bat within the AppStore, they’ve hit, at the very least, an inside-the-park homerun.
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.
Every time a new shmup hits the AppStore, I get extremely excited, especially when it’s from a well known developer. Iskandar, developer of Bit-1, Brutal Fantasy, Cut Him Up, and the ever popular shmup, Buster Red, has just released a follow-up to Buster Red called Buster Spirits. This time around, Iskandar has created a shmup more directed towards fans of the genre than another casual shooter.
The first thing that stands out about Buster Spirits are the new graphics. Even though they’re retro-inspired, and look old-school, they’re a huge change from Buster Red, which had a more cartoony look to it. But aside from the graphics, like most sequels, Buster Spirits is a lot like it’s predecessor. The game is level based, containing 20 separate stages spread across 4 different worlds, and having 4 huge boss battles. There are also tons of enemies with randomized power-up drops, but in Buster Spirits, the enemies also drop coins, which you’ll need to collect to build up your score.
Now, unlike Buster Red, Buster Spirits contains a new scoring mechanic which definitely adds to the hardcore feeling of the game. Grazing. Just mentioning the word gets shmup fans charged up. Buster Spirits gives you bonus firepower for grazing bullets and enemies, which can result in clearing out screens after screens full of enemies in a flash, and adds a ton to the difficulty, as well as the fun, factors.
Unfortunately, it’s not all great. There is no main menu, and no options for the game. Considering the controls are more like a Minter game (think Gridrunner) and there’s no option for 1:1 relative touch controls, it’s a pain to get into. Constantly re-adjusting your finger, and under/overcompensating for the extra space your ship will move while trying to dodge huge amounts of bullets of enemies gets very frustrating, very fast. This is kind of a shock, because Buster Red’s controls are fantastic 1:1 relative touch, so it’s strange that this was left out of the sequel.
Also, there’s only one Mode in the game, whereas Buster Red has a Boss Rush Mode, and an Elite Mode. This doesn’t really take away from the replay value, because there’s always a high replay value when it comes to shmups, and GameCenter leaderboards, but it does take away from the feeling of a complete game. Almost every shmup in the AppStore either has Arcade and iPhone Modes, Boss Rush Modes, Practice Modes, or more, and not having this included in Buster Spirits does make it seem kind of incomplete.
There’s also no difficulty settings, and only one ship to choose from, which, when it comes to shoot-em-ups, is a very big deal. Considering almost all of these things were included in Buster Red, I can’t help but wonder why they were left out of it’s sequel. But priced at $1.99, and being Universal, if you’re a shmup fanatic, it’s hard to pass up another Buster title. Unfortunately, you might not be too pleased with the product. Hopefully Iskandar Inc. adds to the game in future updates, but as it is now, it’s a hard recommendation, even with some great Buster titles under their belt.
Shoot-em-up games have been making a huge comeback over the last couple years. Mainly because you can now play old favorites like R-Type, Earth Defense Force, Galaga and Battle Squadron as well as newer games, like Fast Striker, Deathsmiles, ESPGaluda and DoDonPachi all on a mobile device with touch screen controls that make previously hard to pull off with a joystick moves as easy as swiping your finger across a screen. Mixed in with these classics and new favorites, we’ve been given quite a few new and amazing bullet hell and shmup titles. Enborn-X, by Lantansia, is yet another example of this.
This endless boss battle structured game is a blast to play. There’s two different control methods, both being tight and easy to use. One option is a joystick, while the other is relative touch control, and both have 3 different buttons for attack options. Each attack has it’s own percs as well as weaknesses. Your spread shot can cancel out certain types of shots from the bosses, while some projectile shots go right through your bullets, a laser that you need to charge while avoiding the onslaught of bullets coming your way, and an incredibly strong up close and personal punch attack that, well, you need to be up close and personal to use.
In order to max out your score against each boss, you’ll need to pick them apart, destroying them piece by piece. You can go straight for the middle of them, destroying them fairly quickly, but doing this will cause your score to suffer quite a bit, and in a high-scoring game like this, that’s a big no-no. For each piece of the boss you destroy, you’ll rack up points while shooting that piece, as well as get a bonus score for destroying it before moving on to the next piece. Starting at the edges and moving inward is essential, but also comes with quite a bit of risk. Generally, the edges of the boss are the pieces that shoot out the most bullets. This means you’ll need to get use to weaving in and out of them while attacking instead of staying in the middle and slightly moving to avoid the missiles and big lasers that you’ll usually find there.
The graphics and animations in Enborn-X are very exuberant, and it can sometimes be hard to focus when each new boss is spawned from the orb that you’ll be fighting. The animations for this are great, each bit being flung out of the last in true overdone anime style. In short, it looks awesome. The animations for your character are pretty typical of shooters, but match the style of the game very well. It would be nice to see one or two more moves incorporated to the melee attacking, as right now you punch twice over and over again, adding in a kick or super twirl punch or something would have been a great addition, but as it is, you’ll be focusing more on how much damage you’re doing with those punches than what your character looks like while pulling them off. The sounds and music go together with the anime style too, being full of energy, and adding to the overall feel of the game.
Now, with the game being done in true anime style, it’s amazing that it’s only $1.99, as most anime entertainment is usually premium priced, and with the amount of replay value, and the sheer exaggerated amount of action that’s in the game, $1.99 is a great price. EnbornX is also Universal, and compatible with iCade, giving gamers even more reason to lay down a couple bucks for it. Of course, a high-scoring game like this wouldn’t be complete without OpenFeint and GameCenter leader boards, now would it? Highest score and highest stage boards are included, as well as having 15 different hard to snag achievements. Lantansia has proven that they can make an over the top game that fits within the growing genre as well as expands it. Hopefully we can see another mode or maybe more weapons and characters in future updates, but right now, if you’re a fan of the genre, Enborn-X is a great buy.