Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 (2009)
Developer: Cave Co., Ltd.
Platform: X-Box 360
Induction Date: 12/07/2009
The 2D horizontal and vertical shoot-'em-up is a dying genre so when a game that falls into that category shows up, a rarity these days, we should at least pay some attention. The "2D" being discussed here is of course referring to the plane of gameplay and not necessary a reference to the utilized graphical technology in the game. This genre represents the best of gaming in a classical sense. Those who have been gaming for a long while should still remember that there used to be a time when video games mostly reward those with skill and precision, when playing games is about escalating repetition and learning, when video games can be completed in one sitting, and when an offline game can be played over and over and over again for months on end. All of these things are true about MushiFutari but this game is not only about revisiting past glories with forgotten old gaming philosophies because it's also about the renewal of such things into this modern gaming world.
MushiFutari is what most people would call a "bullet-hell" shooter, a term that derives from the fact that at any given moment, the screen filled with an overwhelming amount of enemy shots. You play as Reko, who rides a giant beetle named Kiniro, or Palm, who rides a dragon-like insectoid named Hirow. From what I understand from the game's rather convoluted storyline about a fantasy forest kingdom of insects and such, Palm is tasked with luring Reko towards his mother Larsa for she wants to exact revenge upon Reko for the death of her other son from the first game. It's better than nothing but it's no Ikaruga. There are five stages in all with each stage containing a mid-boss and an end-boss. The fantastical enemy design are based on insect life so don't expect anything remotely resembling a modern ship in the game. There are 2 default game revisions that come with the game: Ver 1.5 and Arrange. Those who buy the first print run of the game are given the ability to unlock Ver 1.01 of the game and soon after the game's release, everyone has the option to download the Black Label edition from the Live Marketplace. So what's so special about these different options? The versions themselves differ from each other in terms of the enemy patterns and some gameplay rules. The "Black Label" version represents the best revisions of the bunch with scarier but much more fair bullet patterns and better balance firepower for your "ships". After you have selected which version to play, you are then presented with three types of gameplay modes: "Normal", "Maniac", and "Ultra/God" - each varies in difficulty and scoring techniques with "Ultra/God" mode being the most difficult of them all.
The versions are quite different from each other where you have to re-accustom
yourself to the version that you're playing to ensure success and survival.
I sure hope that you are still with me after those version/mode explanation. In terms of the gameplay, you are given two types of shots: one with repeated presses of a button and the other with you hold the button down. The game is not only about surviving the vicious attacks from your enemies, it is also about scoring it big while doing so. Depending on the mode of play, this may involve switching between the two types of attacks during certain score multiplier counts or building up the multipliers before claiming the rewards during the most opportune moments - which usually involve the bosses' overwhelming final attacks. It's all very satisfying and ridiculously addicting. What makes this better is that you can compete your score against other players from around the globe by playing the game with only one credit via "Score Attack". If you play the game well, you may also be given the option to upload your replay for others to see! It is fun watching the replays from other players too, especially the fact that the game sounds incredible and it is quite a looker. You can choose between playing this game in its original arcade resolution - which results in ugly pixelations on a high definition display - or play it with its crystal clear, bumped-up resolution. You can still choose to rotate your display so that the game can fill the entire screen with TATE mode but if you are playing on a HDTV, you won't miss a single pixel of the actual gameplay even if you leave the display in its default horizontal position. You can change the wallpaper being displayed on both sides of the gameplay area as well alongside other wacky display options available in the game.
Here's me messing around with "God Mode".
An example of just how delicious this game can become.
The combination of intense "bullet-heaven" where sometimes you have to squeeze in very, very tightly in between enemy shots - the hit box is small - and the fun scoring system really makes MushiFutari a must have for anyone looking for a very difficult but richly rewarding game. The only flaws to be found in this game are that it doesn't offer online co-op and that it is a necessity to buy "Black Label" to play the best version of the game when it should have been readily included on the game disc. After the "Black Label" download, the game then becomes prone to random freezing that lasts a second or two that could easily help or destroy your chances of maneuvering around enemy bullets. Other than those concerns, it's a refreshing product for the X-Box 360. Cave released this game as a region-free title and the good news here is that apparently, they were able to see the positive impact that the decision had on the sale of this game because they are now releasing the regular edition of the upcoming ESPGaluda II Black Label as a region-free game as well. It's never too late to become a lover of this genre. Let's hope the continuing friendship between the console and Cave is going to be a long-lasting and fruitful one.
RATING: 4 out of 5