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ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Things no one expected: the bizarre and befuddling schlock cult classic Abarenbō Tengu/Zombie Nation is coming back this October in a thorough collection for Switch and PC, via City Connection.

Through this, we have been gifted the awe-inspiring portmanteau EXCITENGU, so the venture has already justified itself.

Amazing.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Cave acquires the licensings rights to Touhou for a game slated to release in 2022, according to a released company report. I'm not going to pretend this doesn't stir anything within at all, but it also feels like something that would have felt like a more tangible "get" about a decade ago, back when Cave were on their last stretch of still doing original material tied to their arcade and console-based business. Since then, the developer has hung on through mobile projects that globally go unnoticed, and licensing their back catalogue to studios willing to give them the royal treatment--whatever the current status of them, it's not the one traditionally associated with their history and pedigree in the genre, and so makes predicting the shape of a new project difficult to impossible. I would still wager it'll turn out an unlocalized mobile release, even if these days official Touhou works are finally released globally on PC, while derivative works like this regularly turn out on consoles too. Whatever the misgivings, it's still a ridiculous dream match team-up, at least nominally.
 

Yimothy

Red Plane
(he/him)
I bought a physical copy of the Aleste Collection for Switch a little while back and it arrived yesterday. I’ve only played Power Strike II for SMS out of the included games before, so I was having a play around trying them out and I wound up 1CCing GG Aleste. Well, technically I didn’t: I started it, immediately lost all my lives on the first stage and continued, then went on to beat it from the start without continuing again. If I’d chosen not to continue and started over instead it’d be an unambiguous 1CC.

I lost two more lives right away on the second credit, then got to I think the stage five boss before getting hit again. By the time I reached the final boss, I had nine lives on the counter. I lost a couple of lives in the early stages of the fight and wound up underpowered for the last stage, but managed to pull through with I think three or four left.

I’m not sure if this is a particularly easy game, or if the homing weapon I used throughout is overpowered, or if I was just in the zone tonight (unlikely). It’s also possible I accidentally changed a setting that made it easier - the options menus are in Japanese and I can’t read them. I’m pretty sure I haven’t cleared a shooter without continuing before aside from the single stage bonus game in La-Mulana.
 

demi

(She/Her)
Cave acquires the licensings rights to Touhou for a game slated to release in 2022, according to a released company report. I'm not going to pretend this doesn't stir anything within at all, but it also feels like something that would have felt like a more tangible "get" about a decade ago, back when Cave were on their last stretch of still doing original material tied to their arcade and console-based business. Since then, the developer has hung on through mobile projects that globally go unnoticed, and licensing their back catalogue to studios willing to give them the royal treatment--whatever the current status of them, it's not the one traditionally associated with their history and pedigree in the genre, and so makes predicting the shape of a new project difficult to impossible. I would still wager it'll turn out an unlocalized mobile release, even if these days official Touhou works are finally released globally on PC, while derivative works like this regularly turn out on consoles too. Whatever the misgivings, it's still a ridiculous dream match team-up, at least nominally.
Yea, it's hard to be optimistic with CAVE these days since they've kind of gone into shareholder mode... but if I'm going to be anyway:

I could see them doing some kind of Deathsmilesy treatment? It would distinguish the release from ZUN's TATE playing fields while also giving CAVE an opportunity to provide a look at Gensokyo through lavish backgrounds. I'd be especially curious to see how Manabu Namiki or Basiscape handles the soundtrack too, which is mostly unaffected by whether the game is mobile or not. It's a tough spot though, Saidaioujoi Exa Label is not going to get a home release anytime soon if ever, so even if they did some kind of arcade release on that platform it wouldn't reach many folks outside of Japan. But mobile is just so not what I'm here for haha, so I am not too enthusiastic about our prospects atm. I'm certainly curious though!
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Namiki would obviously be an exciting pick to handle the material but really I'd be chuffed to have any scene stalwart show up to do the honours. The arrangements Yousuke Yasui did about a decade ago on various doujin albums speak to his suitability for the task, for instance.
 
Meldac is still a thing. It's a music label, like Pony Canyon. Who knew?

Just wanted to jump in here to say that I gave Axelay another chance, given the fact that I own a Super NES Classic now and felt the need to load it with games. This has a tough barrier to entry, which is probably why I didn't enjoy it as a teenager. At the start of the game, you're surrounded by a ring of ships, which steadily close in on you. If you don't switch to the fan spread weapon, you will quickly die, and keep dying, leaving you with a single life and making it very difficult to finish the first level. I know how to handle the little bastards now, but back in the 1990s? Not so much!

When you get the hang of it, Axelay gets... better. It feels like it's built as a show pony rather than a work horse, with lots of nifty special effects but without the impact of a true classic like R-Type or Gradius. I haven't decided if the toilet paper roll horizon effect is impressive or just annoying, but I absolutely do NOT like how large ships seem to spill out from the top of the screen, making them look flat and curled. I like that getting struck with a shot doesn't necessarily kill you, but I don't like that they strip you of weapons one by one until you're left with crappy bombs. Compile handled this much better in its Aleste games, reducing the power of your current weapon after you get clipped by a bullet, then killing you outright with the next collision. The effort that went into this game is obvious, but it still leaves me with mixed feelings and a slightly sour taste in my mouth.

(Also, pressing X while the game is paused won't activate invincibility for some reason. Muteki, you need to tell Konami the code they named after you doesn't work.)
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I liked the traditional side-scrolling stages more, myself. Very good game, and a gorgeous one at that, although I liked Gate of Thunder more from my big shmup run a couple of months ago. I think I like R-Type III slightly more, too, but it's really close between the two.

Fun fact, too - everyone assumes that screen roll is Mode 7, but it's not! It's a line scrolling effect.
 

Yimothy

Red Plane
(he/him)
I’ve been playing more of the Aleste Collection, mostly the GG Alestes because I’ve played SMS Power Strike II before and Power Strike 1 seems to be impossible (why do the power ups move up the screen instead of down? How am I supposed to get them?). After several failed attempts at stage one of GG II I got through that first stage, carried on through the second, and then had to start continuing from the third. I eventually beat it after quite a few continues.

GG3 is proving pretty tough. Prior to tonight I hadn’t beaten the second stage, but tonight I had what seemed like a great run, clearing the first two stages without taking a hit and getting most of the way (I assume) through stage three untouched before rapidly losing all my lives at the midboss. I thought initially it might have been accidentally picking up a different weapon that threw me off, but after several continues and further attempts at the midboss I realised the little things it throws out explode into seemingly unblockable fire that rapidly moves down the screen. Prior to that I’d been unable to figure out why I kept dying. Having figured that out I beat it pretty easily, but I still haven’t cleared the level.
 

Yimothy

Red Plane
(he/him)
I finished GG Aleste 3. Wound up using save states, though I managed to restrain myself somewhat: I saved at the end of each stage if I was happy with how I’d gotten through, then in stage five and six I made one mid-stage save each once I’d gotten to where I could consistently reach a certain point in the stage without losing a life but was having trouble after that (just before the boss in five, just before the midboss in six), and then in seven I lost my nerve a bit and wound up making several, though I think I only actually reloaded from two of them, once maybe halfway through the stage and the other right before the boss. There were two or three in between but once I got past the point I’d been stuck in good enough shape to make a save I didn’t wind up dying until I reached the boss. I’d like to go back and beat it without the saves, but I dunno if I’ve got it in me. I guess if I spent as long with a shmup as I do with an rpg or something I’d probably get good enough to play right through.

Anyways, this game is excellent. I’d love to play it on a real game gear, even if I’d have no chance of beating it without those save states. On switch I didn’t really notice the low resolution - it felt to me like there was enough space on screen. The slowdown was pretty obvious, but almost always welcome to help me through crowded screens. I’d say a particular highlight was stage five, where you fly up a giant rocket, which then launches. You continue to fly up it, but from that point the stage wraps around the rocket so you can fly in a circle around it by moving left or right. The effect is pretty simple: a few bits on the rocket are animated to look like it’s rotating and everything on screen moves in the opposite direction to your ship when you move. The enemies and things don’t curve around the rocket or anything, just scroll on or off from the sides of the screen, but it’s totally effective and left me way impressed with what the devs were doing in a game gear game (even though I was playing on switch).

I mostly used the chain chaser subweapon. Homing shots kind of feel like cheating since you don’t have to move around as much to take out enemies, but the trade-off is weak defence - many of the other weapons can clear enemy bullets for you, but with the chaser you have to focus on dodging a lot more. I felt very vulnerable whenever I lost my shield. It’s also not as destructive as some of the others, I think. I switched to the default subweapon (which I initially had found useless) for a tricky bit in the final level and found it much easier because I was taking enemies out faster and it was clearing some of the bullets that otherwise might have taken me out. Switched back to homing for the rest of the level, though.
 

demi

(She/Her)
Yea, I keep hoping Round1 will pick some up? We're fortunate to have a location in the Denver area, so here's hoping! I have the 360 port of Akai Katana, but actually haven't spent much time with it at all. I'm not super into games completely dominated by resource looping, but I'm sure there's a mode/character that would suit me fine - just need to look for it.

Anywho, now that I have a way to use my STG stick on the console: I started on Battle Garegga! I'm still in the preliminary stages of exploring the game, messing around with different ships, all that jazz. So far I'm digging Shatterstar, Golden Bat, and some version of Miyamoto I think? I'm playing on the Saturn version tho and I haven't managed to figure out how to unlock the option for the port to replicate arcade slowdown "Wait Mode", despite my efforts. I'm not familiar with how impactful that is since I haven't played pcb or the M2 release, but I will definitely check out the latter if I commit to an effort to 1cc.

There is a lot about that game that takes getting used to. I don't have much experience with rank management, and even in titles where I have interfaced with it, it's certainly not in such an engaging, thoughtful way as Garegga demands. For instance, Musihimesama Futari (Original), rank increase is just the consequence of scoring well, and decrease is just consolation for dying. But here, the balance between scoring well enough to earn extends to throw away to decrease rank while scoring enough to get more extends makes the entire experience, from beginning to end, like walking on a tightrope.

After some initial forays, I started checking out threads and wikis to get a bit of a better understanding of how each item and action affects rank, and now I feel like it's clicking a bit more. Screens are always way more dangerous than they appear -the bullets are hard to see to begin with - as every item that spawns can have modest to dramatic implications, and medals just can't afford to be dropped. It's for the latter reason that I'm considering a faster ship than Golden Bat... in some instances, I can substitute cool, calculated planning* with sheer speed to collect medals as they come up. It won't solve everything, but it kind of seems like a strong familiarity with the stages and systems is more important than rigid routing, especially in the context of trying to clear. I'm intimidated by the concept of boss milking since, like, that tests my nerves, so figuring out the points towards my next life outweigh the danger of act and the increase in rank will take a while.

The music is stellar, and the shrapnel effects spawned in the fray make the game look pretty incredible in motion. What a thing!

* Edit: I am in no way a cool, calculated planner when I play these so I'm really just trying to compensate for that here lol
 
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Klatrymadon

Twilight Rascal
(he/him)
Glad you're enjoying it, demi! IIRC, in the Saturn port you can press L or R on the options screen to pull up another screen with some ON/OFF toggles on it. One of them is for "EASY MENU" which changes the language to English and gives you a few additional options. From there you should spot the "WAIT" settings. :)

(If you're rotating your screen, play around with the orientation options - only one of the settings actually rotates the controls to match.)
 
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demi

(She/Her)
I appreciate the help! I actually can't seem to locate it still, and research on the STG forum threads had a couple different claims to what did the trick. Some said that credit-feeding through Normal difficulty would do the trick, but completing that didn't seem to unlock it? Though I was using Stage Restart a lot to practice the stages on my way through, and it was before I enabled the Easy/English menu. I think at some point Icarus said you need to 1cc the game first, and well... considering that's part of why I want Wait Mode to begin with, that would be much more challenging lol!


Thanks for the tip on rotating the controls, idk what I picked early on but it seemed to do the trick haha. Overall it seems to be a pretty amazing port, but I may just end up dipping into M2's recent presentation instead. It could really help me to have that rank visualization graph while I'm learning, too...
 

Klatrymadon

Twilight Rascal
(he/him)
Ah, sorry, maybe you do need to clear the game first! I haven't played my copy properly in years (the last time I did was just to explain the options screen to someone on a UK forum, hehe), and the Saturn has definitely had a few battery changes since I did. I'll have to fire it up soon and see if I can find the option.

Excellent CRT, BTW!
 

demi

(She/Her)
Oh god I saw that come up on my feed the other night and before I hit "translate tweet" I assumed it was TAS or something lol! I wonder what it feels like to have your state of mind knit that closely with the patterns & timing as that would require...
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
G Darius is still good. Also, I thought for some reason the G Darius V2 update was already available for G Darius HD and was like "where is it?!"

Not out yet, obviously. But yeah, still great.
 

Klatrymadon

Twilight Rascal
(he/him)
Been playing a bit of Star Hunter DX, from the Space Moth folks. I can't abide its I Fucking Love The 80s presentation, though most of the stage visuals are certainly well done, but I think the scoring system is onto a total winner. It's a bit of a mélange of ideas from different STGs, mostly Cave's: you destroy enemies and collect blue cubes which fill up a 'bullet time' meter, which allows you to slow down time and begin collecting gold cubes from the enemies, which are subject to a multiplier you can increase either by simply killing enemies or by grazing. You have three bombs which don't do much in terms of clearing the screen, but exist largely to allow you to fill up your bullet-time meter more quickly, since they convert bullets within a certain radius into blue cubes. Where it gets exciting is that, by grazing bullets, you can fill up another meter which earns you your bombs back, so if you manage all these elements well, you can get into a nice loop whereby everything recharges everything else and you're rarely out of bullet time, and constantly hoovering in massive gold cubes. It's lots of fun. I'm really enjoying this mad alternate reality in which European-made shooters aren't absolutely rancid.
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
hahaha. i remember when the first one came out on steam and they said all three were coming

i assumed they meant it would take somewhat less than five years, but i suppose that was ultimately based on nothing. i'm still most excited for 3 but i'll definitely have to buy it, even without the classic english dialogue
 

Klatrymadon

Twilight Rascal
(he/him)
Nice! I'm buying it to atone for the barbarism of selling the GameCube version with the cute cat. And because I could never get the older Windows versions of the Shiki games running well.

I grabbed a Wii copy of 3 a while ago but still haven't spent much time with it yet. It's good to know you're looking forward to it - I know a few other people who say it's the best one so I'm excited to dig into it further.

Edit: it'll be on Switch too!
 
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Regulus

Sir Knightbot
A couple more shmupdates:

1. Zero Ranger received an update for its 3rd Anniversary. The new mode is still forthcoming, but the update contains a number of new config options, some bug fixes, and a buff for the lock-on laser which gives it some bullet cancelling properties to make it a little more attractive relative to the Charge Shot.

2. The first part of R-Type Final 2's second wave of additional levels got a trailer:


ImageFight! Stage 3 is not my favorite ImageFight stage, but it's probably the most appropriate for R-Type. They show off the OF-1 Daedalus and other OF series fighters to go along with it. The other stage in this pack is R-Type 2's stage 2, presumably added to meet the "blatantly phallic" enemy design staple that R-Type Final 2 has otherwise been lacking up to this point. I'm looking forward to hearing the music arrangement for this one, because the original is one of the best tracks in R-Type 2.

It's due out later this month.
 
I'd like them to bring Meta Fox to the Switch. It's a thoroughly average, surprisingly easy vertical shooter with just one thing going for it... an overblown J-punk soundtrack, complete with inscrutable lyrics during the boss fights. When I was a teen, I'd pop quarters into the machine at the local truck stop, because I knew I could get a lot of mileage on each credit, and because the music was so hilariously hardcore.
 

Klatrymadon

Twilight Rascal
(he/him)
Thunder Dragon 2 is an obvious classic, but I hope people check out Gunnail too. It's a special port if only because the game hasn't always worked beautifully under emulation, but it also shows NMK at their peak, in some ways - unorthodox and creative in its mechanics, as always, and taking the chunky 'everything is gunmetal' fixation in their artwork to its conclusion. They've always been famous for having unusual, arguably silly scoring systems, but Gunnail's mostly just emphasises accepting high risk: each time you lose one of your three shields (essentially lives, here) your score multiplier goes up, and if you take down a boss with none left in stock you can net a whopping x100 multiplier for it. Scoring well therefore involves deliberate 'suiciding', but without the reassurance that lives are a resource to be expended and earned back (as in a Yagawa game) - your last one is your last one. It's fairly easy to play for survival, but becomes a wonderfully tense experience if you embrace this element.

(The only issue with this is that being on your last legs triggers a loud and irritating klaxon sound which plays until you're dead. I wonder if they'll include an option to tone it down...)
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Is that the Shikigami release I heard would have a new translation? Who wants that? Is the old one still an option? (I mean, I do still have my PS2 disc, I guess...)
 
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