| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_Vert; loc=JPN] |
|"Mushihimesama" supposedly means "Insect Princess" (mushi=bug, hime=princess, sama=form of respectful address).|
And lo! You play as a busty girl riding bare-assed on the back of a big beetle-like bug creature, shooting other gigantic bugs with insect-slaughtering bullets! This must be Cave's most lush-looking shooter to date, helped by their new arcade hardware, which can, from the looks of things, render transparent sprites, allowing their artists to paint with a depth that they haven't had before. And the sprite-pushing power! I particularly love stage 3, which takes place over the back of a gigantic caterpillar-like creature composed of gigantic, undulating sections of exoskeleton that span the entire screen and never cease to move and twist beneath you as you blow off his hundreds of dangerous appendages. Sweet! The rich palette brings to mind Psikyo's Dragon Blaze (see entry 793), but the layered transparency effects, which Dragon Blaze didn't have, can get really insane here, to the point where the whole screen seems to be a pulsating miasma of deadly colors.
Cave has gone back to basics a bit in gameplay, which I think has worked well here. Their previous shooter, ESPGaluda (see entry 550), was pretty complicated to play, what with activating a time-stop mode and managing an energy meter and converting bullets to gold and all. In Mushihimesama, you mostly just shoot everything a lot with plenty of bullets. Yay!
The scoring itself is a bit more intricate than that, for those who like to get technical. Each target has a point value that decreases steadily as they remain unshot. Shoot them and you get the value, times a multiplier that increments for each enemy you've shot on that stage. Pretty simple so far, right?
Well, then it gets into things I don't understand as well. Apparently there's also another "child" counter that counts a multiplier up for whatever you hit with your side-laser option things (think Gradius--in fact the lasers they shoot look like the lovely laser streams in Gradius V (entry 659)). And if you want to get *really* fancy, apparently if you alternate regular and auto-fire (the game had Fire, Bomb, and Full-Auto buttons in the arcade) you can jimmy with the counters somehow to get a huge main counter or something. I don't quite get that part yet.
Ah, and in any mode other than regular Arcade mode (there are the escalating levels of difficulty in Manic and Ultra modes--Ultra mode is insane--as well as a PS2-exclusive Arranged mode), you also get a DonPachi-style (see entry 71) chain counter thing that increases a bonus multiplier as long as you keep hitting things fast enough. Whew! But fortunately, most of these points come naturally when you're just blasting things.
Let's talk about Arrange mode, because I really like it. Now, in Galuda, Arrange mode was ridiculo hard, and having another shot button didn't help. Well, in Mushihimesama, Arrange mode gives you six Option side-guns to start with, so you're pretty much blowing away everything onscreen at all times. This is rad. The bullet patterns are different than Arcade mode, too, so it really gives you a new challenge (although they're nowhere near as thick as they get in Manic or Ultra modes).
The game has great music, too. Cave is really kicking booty in this department these days.
Arika handled Cave's previous PS2 ports, but this time around they went with Taito. Arika did a great job with their ports, and Taito...well, did pretty well, but not quite as well as Arika. They didn't include a bonus superplay DVD, for one thing. I don't really care about that, but I do care that the game, even in full-vertical-screen "Tate" mode, has a slightly blurry high-res filtered look. Poo! That really didn't need to happen. It's hardly enough to stop me from playing, but it is sloppy on Taito's part, and the game isn't quite as sharp as it should be on the screen.
My pal Mr. Fox, who played the game in the arcades in Japan, noticed also that if you pause the game, the stage music resets. Of course, you couldn't actually pause the game in the arcade version, so this is a rather silly thing to pick at, but again, it didn't have to be like that. Still, Mr. Fox had to admit that he liked the included "Restart" function on the Pause screen, which allows you to restart instantly at the beginning of stage 1--very handy for those times where you die somewhat prematurely and want to start over.
As with most Cave shooters, the game is pretty tough. I've got midway through stage 5 (the last stage) on a single credit in Arrange mode after just a few tries, though! Woo! I love Arrange mode. I can't get halfway through stage 1 in Ultra, but oh well.
Mushihimesama is hardcore, and won't let you record a high score name if you Continue or use Restart.
Mushihimesama is a vertical shooting spectacular, and shouldn't be missed by anyone who likes twitchy action games, especially tough ones.
|Download added: arrange_stage_3.gif (148172 bytes)|
"Stage 3: flying over the back of a giant caterpillar is serious business."
Oh, I forgot to explain the weapon switching! To start you pick one of three shot/movement types, which range from wide/slow to narrow/fast. In the non-Arrange modes, you can switch weapon types by waiting for the timer around the border of a weapon powerup to time out, at which point the powerup switches to a different weapon type.
In Arrange mode, on the other hand, you get a fourth button that lets you switch weapon modes at will!
Oh, and the game menus are all English.
|Download added: arrange02.mpg (6488068 bytes)|
"Arrange mode stage 2: uh, ignore the embarassing death right at the end."
Ah, forgot something else: Arrange (or is it "Arranged"? whatev) mode is so easy because, firepower notwithstanding, you auto-bomb when you take a hit, instead of dying. So each bomb is a life, in effect, and you get three per normal life, plus extra ones that come your way fairly regularly. Arrange mode power!