After a huge string of disc only releases, Cave finally brings one of their back catalogue of shmups to the Xbox Live Arcade. Which also means worldwide region-free release, happily. Its a strange beast though. It is pretty unlike any other shmup I’ve played. Holding A brings out your “shikigami” which is essentially a cursor you move about the screen which directs your bullets. However, in this mode, your movement is limited (and indeed, one stick controls both movement of your character and your shikigami). The second advantage of your shikigami is that it halts enemy bullets, and eventually turns them into coins, which builds some multiplier. If you tap A, or use the rapid-fire C button, you simply shoot upwards as usual, and B is a bomb as usual. The other strange thing is that you are a man walking about on the ground like in a top-down free-moving 2D game. However, the game is auto-scrolling like a standard vertical shmup, so your movement is restricted to the paths available. I don’t quite get this game yet but will surely give it more time. The other thing is that Stage 1 is ridiculously easy and boring, something Cave fixed in later games. Another odd thing is that you have a life bar instead of dying in one hit. I should also mention the game’s theme of feudal Japan which is kept throughout as well as some bizarre monsters.
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