| paleface [sys=PCB; cat=Shooter_Vert; loc=JPN] |
|References added: 69, 70, 71, 110, 549|
"ESPGaluda: scoring like Progear, art like Gunbird, vert shooting like DonPachis."
Vertical shooter by Cave (see also Progear (entry 549) and related links) with a winged theme. I've only played the prequel, "ESP RA.DE," very briefly, so I can't really speak to how they may be related.
mr_driller and the Internet tell me that "Galuda" comes from "Garuda," the legendary king of birds and steed of Vishnu, or something like that. I don't know if Garuda himself appears in the game, since I've only been to level two or three so far, but certainly the first boss sports some impressive semi-robotic wingspan, and the playable characters all sprout wings out of their humanoid backs.
Similar to Progear, the scoring gimmick here is that under certain circumstances, killing an enemy converts all their extant bullets into treasure, which you collect for a large score. So the idea is to let enemies fill the screen with bullets until you run out of room to hide from them, then kill the enemies and convert all those dangerous bullets into tasty points.
In this game, those certain circumstances involve being in your "kakusei" mode, which is basically a Matrix or Max Payne-style slow-motion mode in which the blue bullets turn purple and move at a fraction of their normal speed. Staying in kakusei mode costs gems, which are normally harvested from the bodies of slain enemies. A timer around your character counts down your gem energy--once it runs out, bullet time snaps forward to faster-than-normal (red bullets) as long as you remain in kakusei. I'm not sure why you would remain in kakusei at that point, since you no longer convert bullets to points, but there's got to be some reason (higher score from killing enemies?) because I've seen it done in superplays (many of these come in the game and on the included bonus DVD).
Besides having a neat space-warping effect when activated, and helping you dodge through tight bullet patterns, kakusei is just neat. It lends itself to a much more intuitive and enjoyable scoring gimmick than, say, the time-chaining of Cave's fine DonPachi games (see entry 69, entry 70, entry 71)--there's just something so inherently satisfying about killing a big enemy and having the screen fill up with sparkly gold points, plus there's the ever present tension of "do I kill this guy now? or let him shoot at me some more so I can get more points if I manage to kill him?"
In true Cave tradition the massive bosses sport some truly intense bullet patterns, and ESPGaluda's patterns are particularly neat to watch, with spiralling and inverweaving bullets of different shapes and sizes forming a carefully choreographed death-dance for your viewing pleasure.
You've also got a Barrier, sorta like a bomb except that it only blocks shots, unless you absorb at lot and then it swells up and releases a big energy blast. Neat. The barrier activates automatically if you're hit in kakusei mode, but drains twice as much barrier juice as normal.
Arranged mode deserves special mention. Not only do you get two completely different characters to play with, you also get a new (or really heavily remixed) and lovely soundtrack, no continues, an additional attack button ("Heavy," haven't quite got the hang of it yet), and massively increased bullet swarms.
There is one unfortunate thing about Arranged mode, which is that it shares a single button mapping setup with Arcade mode, except that the button functions are all swapped around. Why port company Arika couldn't have given Arranged mode its own button remapping option screen, I don't know. I've found the easiest way to work around the problem is to set up Player 1's buttons for Arcade, and Player 2's for Arranged, and just switch between controller ports when going from one mode to the other.
Like Arika's port of dodonpachi DAI-OU-JOU (entry 70) you also have the ability to save your game as a replay file, access to a handy practice mode ("Simulation") in which you can play a single stage over and over, and multiple vertical and horizontal screen display options.
The 2D graphics, while somewhat low-color, and pre-rendered rather than hand-drawn, and sometimes excessively pixellated in various zoom/rotation moments, have fantastic animation and a steampunk style reminiscent of my beloved Gunbird 2 (entry 110).
|According to a post by Valgar on shmups.com, remaining in kakusei mode after your meter is depleted allows you to get more gems from enemies and to power up your weapon. That's pretty keen, even if I'm not good enough to hang out long in red kakusei mode.|
|Learned some stuff reading through the review on Impress Game Watch:|
- "kakusei" means something like "saintly sense"
- barriers and their eventual power blast get more powerful the longer you hold down the button