Mushihimesama Review (Switch eShop) | Nintendo Life
Note: At the time of writing, Mushihimesama’s sales on the EU Switch eShop have been temporarily suspended. The Live Wire publisher has said it will return to the store “in the near future”.
Arcade shoot-em-ups in the 80s may have started out as largely science-fiction, but there have been long-standing efforts in the genre to differentiate games with unique themes. One of the most interesting of these is Cave’s Mushihimesama (“Bug Princess”), which takes place in a world full of huge insects. It was initially released in 2004 in the games, with an average conversion of PlayStation 2 in 2005, an iOS port in 2011, and then finally an HD version for Xbox 360, Windows, and now the Switch.
The heroine is Princess Reco, who rides on a huge beetle, which serves as the game’s main character. At its core, the game is a hell of a bullet launcher in the same vein as almost every other release from Cave, as it weaves through dense patterns of pink bullets as it collects point objects and collects high points. There are three different types of shots you can choose from at the beginning, with two sets of options that provide extra firepower when you take their associated power-ups.
While the action is initially overwhelming, you are helped by a small box of success – you will survive each attack until the bullet passes through the center of your ship, which shines usefully when you focus your fire. You also have a limited supply of bombs that will not only cause further destruction, but will also deny all attacks on the screen and allow you to escape from danger. There is a certain slowing down when the screen is really packed, even if this has been intentionally left in the arcade game since it helps you squeeze in between the most annoying projectiles. The game offers unlimited continuity, although the ultimate goal is either to beat all five stages without using any additional credit or beat your high score.
The highlight of Mushihimesama, however, is his familiar but distinctive worldview: instead of tanks there are creeping-crawling bugs with turrets in the back; instead of artillery there are poisonous plants; and instead of planes there are massive flying insects. Battleships are common enemies in shoot-em-ups, but here the entire third stage is devoted to shooting a huge multi-segmented monster at the lobster – it’s all like something out of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime film ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind ‘. The action is accompanied by an intensely optimistic soundtrack courtesy of Manabu Namiki and Masaharu Iwata, composers of other legendary shoot-em-ups like Ketsui and Complete the Battle.
While it has long been a favorite of hardcore shoot-em-up fans, Mushihimesama has marked one of Cave’s attempts to market his intimidating games to a wider audience. Part of this strategy has involved the heroin of the impossibly annoying teen, but it also offers three levels of selectable difficulty when starting the game. The original is the default mode, with slightly less thick projectile patterns than normal, and a fairly complicated scoring system that revolves mostly around grabbing gems and not dying. Maniac is a more typical Cave bullet hell experience, with more intense (but a little slower) shots, and a combo system similar to other games like Dodonpachi. The Ultra mode is so intense that the game gives you a warning when you try to select it, with bullets that are so hostile that you will probably be demolished within seconds of the start of the first level.
Since Mushihimesama has been around for a while, there have been a handful of more add-ons over the years that have changed projectile and enemy patterns and have different scoring methods. Most of these are included here in the Switch port, including Ver 1.5 mode, which was only included in other versions such as DLC. Arrange mode gives you tremendous firepower right at the start and a generous combined system that allows you to get stratospheric points, with the ability to switch between weapon types at will.
The Ver 1.5 mode makes further modifications, such as the ability to suck gems into the ground, and an option to give you maximum power at the start in exchange for more intense enemy attacks. These modes have different soundtrack arrangements, with three in all, and Ver 1.5 music by Ryu Umemoto (Yu-No, Akai Katana). Also, while the game was originally intended to attract a wider audience, the game is also quite challenging for those who are not accustomed to bullet hell shooters, so the Novice mode makes things a little easier and it will also allow beginners to see the end without having to constantly feed credits.
Beyond the four modes, there is also a punctuation attack with an online ranking – the other versions of this port also allow you to see repetitions loaded from higher markers, but at the time of writing these features are not. also be activated. A practice mode allows you to change your weapons and even play specific levels. You can also choose a vertical screen orientation to fit closer to the original arcade monitor, which is especially useful when using the Switch in portable mode, especially with an accessory like FlipGrip.
Whatever the problem is minor minpicks. The game features only the high-resolution sprites that have been used on all HD ports, rather than the 240p visuals of the original arcade version, but they have a computer-rendered look that makes them look better at higher resolutions though. (Probably because of this, there’s no option for scanline, since they only make sense for low-resolution output.) The port isn’t as complete as the other Cave games in the M2 ShotTriggers line. and Ketsui ESP Ra.De., but it is also robust while also being significantly cheaper, and is also excellent from a technical perspective. Not everyone will dig into the aesthetics, especially those removed by the protagonist of the otaku bait or by the plethora of scary insects, but it can’t be said to be not original. And while then – Mushihimesama Futari – it’s a little better, this is still a fantastic title.
There’s a reason why Mushihimesama is considered one of Cave’s best shoot-em-ups – it’s weird and colorful, it’s incredibly refined, and the numerous game modes ensure that beginners and veterans will be kept busy for a long time.