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SHMUP-bot

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  1. Ikaruga is an incredibly influential game, one that has greatly inspired many to adopt a colour polarity system. Some are great and some, unfortunately, are not. Iro (Color) Hero on Nintendo Switch and Steam tries to emulate the subtle, elegant simplicity of Ikaruga while throwing more mechanics into the mix. But how does it stack up?
  2. Touhou on the PC-98. PoDD is a frantic and nuanced competitive shooter in the vein of Twinkle Star Sprites. We are joined by WR scoring run players Zil and KirbyComment, and additionally Chumlum to comment on how the game mechanics and scoring work. We view two WR scoring runs for the game. Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream is awesome!
  3. Famicom stuffs?? From Cyanidebreathmintz??? Wat wat waaaaat?!!?!?!???
  4. Eastasiasoft's PS4 Limited Editions have been a pretty great success, offering fantastic extras to gamers into indie titles for a great, low price. Now they're producing Switch games, and their first is - once again - Dimension Drive and this time it adds a crucial new extra! In this Mudprints Unboxes, we're taking a look at the Dimension Drive Limited Edition for the Nintendo Switch.
  5. A lot of early Famicom shooters aren't exactly the most noteworthy entries in STG history. But what's this? A basic shooter with real-time strategy elements? By Will Wright?! Oh, and a weird name. I guess it's time to check out Raid on Bungeling Bay! How does it stack up?
  6. CAVE stuffs wat wat waaaaat???
  7. Tempest 2000 is a pretty great time, but it's time for a new version of Tempest for a new generation. Rather than having a Tempest clone on the PS4, Atari instead chose to have the devs behind Txk, Llamasoft, work on an official Tempest game instead. The result is Tempest 4000... but how does it stack up?
  8. Article : Talking with ZUN from the Touhou Series! A Conversation Hell Author : BClarkOMP (Translator) | Famitsu (Source) Source : onemillionpower.com Reason : Preserved on July 22nd, 2018 in case original source goes down. The following is a translation from the 07/12/2018 issue of Famitsu magazine, as a part of a larger feature called “The Present State of Shooting Games”. Note: The Bullet Hell shooter genre is typically called 弾幕 (danmaku) or “Bullet Curtain”. For the very cute pun made in the title of this feature, the “dan” kanji typically used for “danmaku” was substituted with another “dan” kanji (談), meaning “conversation”) This features was decided upon right around the time that the editorial department established the “Famitsu Shooting Friends Party”: A gathering for no other purpose than to discuss shooting games. When we get together, we have but one purpose! So we called in ZUN, the creator of Touhou Project, as a special guest to talk with us until morning at a bar. What are the origins of the Bullet Hell shooter? What significance do the bosses have? What are the revolutionary titles in the world of shooting games? We’re bringing you these in-depth conversations, and more. Famitsu Shooting Friends Party Part 1: Guest – ZUN ZUN: The creator of Touhou Project, as Team Shanghai Alice. He loves shooting games and drinking. Dedeo: He’s proud of his high score of 24,000,000 points in Radiant Silvergun, but prefers horizontally scrolling shooters. Fujikawa Q: Loves Ikaruga so much that he buys it everytime it gets ported to a new platform, and his outfits are usually monochrome. Kaze no Iona (Iona of the Wind): He’s worried that if the Arcade Archives port of Darius II doesn’t come out soon, he’ll just end up buying the arcade cabinet himself. Hanzoumon Arata: Likes bad side-scrolling shooters. He plays music from “Summer Carnival ’92 Recca” when he wants to pump himself up. Nishikawa Kun: An oddball that when he was young, asked for an ESP RA.DE. arcade board for his birthday. His favorite game is Battle Garegga. What Are the Origins of the Bullet Hell Shooter!? (Everyone) Cheers to the future of shooters! (Dedeo) Wow, I didn’t think we’d be able to get you to come here with us ZUN! (ZUN) I knew I would as soon as I heard I’d be able to drink! It’s been pretty hot today, and I took a bath at home beforehand. So I’m really riding high on this feeling of drinking a beer just after I’ve gotten out of the bath (Laughs). So let’s talk about some shooters! (Fujikawa) That’s ZUN for you, completely prepared (Laughs). (Nishikawa) Since he’s here, I’d like to start with asking ZUN about Bullet Hell shooters! (Iona) It’s a huge genre now, after all. Did that name come to be as a result of the increased number of enemy bullets throughout the evolution of the genre? (ZUN) There were a couple of reasons that Bullet Hell shooters came about. The hardware that older games were built on couldn’t support anything like that, and so there just weren’t many bullets on-screen at once. (Hanzoumon) When a lot of bullets would get on-screen in Gradius, the game would really slow down, wouldn’t it? (ZUN) Right, right. That slowdown brought about a new type of game, but since the response in shooting games made after that was to really up the level of difficulty, it didn’t tend to be done by increasing the number of bullets, but rather by rather by increasing the speed. Avoid them before you get hit was the idea behind handling those fast moving attacks. (Iona) In games like Truxton (Tatsujin) there weren’t that many bullets on-screen, but a lot of them would just head straight for you. (Dedeo) You really had to try to memorize those patterns. (ZUN) On the other hand, if the games had been easier then it would have been a problem for arcade owners. Because everyone would just be able to play through the whole game on one coin. Arcade games should of course allow players to have fun, but I think another one of their points is to “defeat the player” while doing that. (Hanzoumon) I like bad side-scrolling shooters, but I also like easy shooters quite a bit too! (Nishikawa) It was really easy to clear Vimana, for example (Laughs). (Fujikawa) Those sorts of games get popular because you’re able to play them for so long. (ZUN) As the hardware became more capable, the number of bullets on-screen increased naturally. The volcano stage in Gradius III was basically Bullet Hell. Even though it had incredible amounts of slowdown (Laughs) (Hanzoumon) Because the slowdown was so bad, I remember being able to last longer despite the difficulty. (Iona) Yeah (Laughs). Being able to take advantage of that in the balance adjustments was quite a discovery. (Dedeo) Shooting games that have been reissued on modern hardware have had artificial slowdown added into them, to replicate the same difficulty levels from back then. (ZUN) The evolution of hardware really has had an effect on trends in games, hasn’t it? Being able to display a lot of bullets on-screen without any slowdown and just scattering them all over the place brought about Bullet Hell shooters. The first game in the genre to actually be called that was Battle Garegga in 1996. (Dedeo) Looking at it now, there really weren’t that many bullets on screen. But back then I was so mesmerized by the boss Black Heart’s winder attack! I got shot down by it right away though (Laughs Bitterly) (Iona) Even though the flow and patterns of the bullets were very alluring, it was also used to great effect. Isn’t that a strong point of the Touhou series? (ZUN) It’s a bit embarrassing to say so myself, but I was actually the first one to do that sort of thing. I started Touhou Project right around when Battle Garegga came out. I liked games where bullets were just scattered everywhere at random, so I did my own take on that. It’s Not Just About Shooting! The Allure of Bullet Hell Shooters (Dedeo) Touhou really surprised me at the time with bullet patterns unlike any I’d ever seen before, and plenty of “bullet curtain” type patterns. (ZUN) There were curving bullets, bullets that changed speeds, and all sorts of stuff like that. I actually don’t think you could really find bullets like that in just about any other game. And I think the reason for that is that typically bosses are just aircrafts or tanks. (Fujikawa) Definitely! At that time there were a lot of shooting games where all of the enemies were mechanical. (Nishikawa) Since they were tanks, it would have been perplexing if bullets came out of the gun turrets not in a straight line (Laughs) (ZUN) I thought that if humans can shoot out bullets using magic, then anything goes. So that’s why the bosses in Touhou games are all humanoid. (Hanzoumon) I see! How did you think to make Bullet Hell so alluring? (ZUN) It has roots in Darius Gaiden. You could say that game was an example of Bullet Hell. You can’t clear it if you don’t get rid of the bullets with the Black Hole Bomber (Laughs) (Dedeo) The giant clam’s bullet patterns huh… I felt like there’s no way you could evade those. But the bullets were long and narrow (they had a specific orientation) and those patterns sure were beautiful. (ZUN) That’s right. And because the bosses in Darius Gaiden weren’t aircrafts but rather science fiction robots themed around aquatic life, no matter where bullets came out from it wouldn’t feel out of place. So I thought that allowed for really great bullet patterns. That game was a big influence on me. (Hanzoumon) It’s really great that the personalities of the enemies can be reflected in Bullet Hell’s patterns. It’s like the bullets being fired can be characters too. (ZUN) It’s easier to think about it that way. When you think about it not as just a pretty bullet pattern being alluring, but rather as this character shoots these bullets because they’re a certain way, you get something really good. Around the same time ESP RA.DE. came out and had you fighting with humanoid style esper characters. The bullets were in the shapes of hands and such, and there were many that had very well thought out designs. I had the same way of thinking in regards to everything being well thought out. I personally think that it was a very revolutionary time for shooters, in which the way the way that the industry thought about them changed, including Touhou. (Dedeo) ESP RA.DE. was so good! I played that one a lot, and I always used J-B 5th. (Nishikawa) I played as the guy on the volley ball team (Yuusuke Sagami). Getting a good score had to be done in such a particular way, and you couldn’t clear the game if you rushed to get a high score. It was really tough… (Iona) Yeah. A lot of Bullet Hell shooters give the impression that they’re very difficult, but actually a lot of them can be played for the first time fairly smoothly. It’s when you try to go for score that you start really making mistakes. (ZUN) I know what you mean! Since you don’t know anything about the stage layouts and enemy attacks on your first play, you might keep on evading fire with bombs when things get dangerous and manage to make it to the later stages. But then after you get used to playing that way, you get about two screens in and don’t have any more bombs left to use (Laughs) (Everyone) That definitely happens (Laughs) (Fujikawa) Ahh, can we have more beers? Do You Re-Spawn Right Where You Died, Or Back At The Beginning Of The Stage? (ZUN) Speaking of high difficulty shooters, Gradius III was extremely difficult. I heard that it had a 3D level, so I excitedly went off to play it. I couldn’t make it up to that stage (Laughs) (Iona) That was stage 4, right? If you could make it up to the Moai heads in stage 5, you were seen as an expert. (Hanzoumon) The bubble stage was really rough… (ZUN) It was merciless right from the first stage. Once you get shot down, it’s really hard to make a comeback. I gave up quite a few times. (Nishikawa) There definitely are too few power-up items, and you won’t be fully powered-up even if you get all of them right up to stage 2… (Fujikawa) Speaking of comebacks, there are two types of shooting games: Ones that re-spawn you right where you died, and ones that send you back to a check-point. Which do you like, ZUN? (ZUN) I absolutely like re-spawning right where you die. The Touhou series does that as one of its fundamental features. I’ve never once found the so-called “Recovery Pattern” of having to get all your power-ups back again to be fun (Laughs). I put up with it because I want to get further in the game, but it’s the most de-motivating factor for me personally. (Hanzoumon) Even if you have extra lives, the whole thing can be ruined depending on where you make a mistake. Of course there’a sense of accomplishment in struggling your way through that, so I can’t really say that there’s nothing to it at all. (Dedeo) Darius is an interesting example. It has checkpoints when you play with only one player, but with two players you re-spawn right there in the same spot you died. (Nishikawa) Whenever I play Darius I always put a coin in the second player side, and just leave that ship there to take advantage of that. (Iona) I didn’t know you could do that (Laughs) (ZUN) Systems that just send you back like that break my heart. And then losing all of your power-ups when you die is very difficult for me to deal with. (Fujikawa) Speaking of power-ups, I love Fire Shark (Same! Same! Same!). Power-up management was really fun in that game. (Dedeo) But in Fire Shark the difficulty would really increase as you powered-up, and clearing the game became very difficult (Laughs) (Fujikawa) And that’s why it helped to be so powered-up! (ZUN) I was really impressed by the power-up system in Raiden. It was difficult to get yourself fully powered-up, but I’d see it on the attract mode screen and aspire to get there. Shooters Were Supported By The Influence Of Salarymen!? (ZUN) Also speaking of power-ups, I fell in love with the Raiden II’s plasma laser at first sight. It wasn’t terribly effective, but that curving laser sure was cool looking. Salarymen on their way back from work would often use nothing but that weapon, so they used to call it the “Salaryman Laser” (Laughs) (Fujikawa) A phrase like that wouldn’t be used anywhere outside of shooters! (Dedeo) I called it that too (Laughs). Shooters were very popular in the 90s: They were easy to pick up and play, and I got the impression that they were popular with the salarymen. Just because they could play them so carefree, without having to think about too much. (Hanzoumon) Nowadays when salarymen wander about in arcades, they hardly ever play the shooting games. (Nishikawa) I guess that time has passed. (ZUN) Arcades nowadays are less places you go to just to play games in general, and more places you go to play games that can only be played in arcades. Because you can easily play a lot of well made games on your consoles at home, or on your smart phone. The form that shooting games take has changed as a result of that, but the cultural surrounding them isn’t going away. The game rules are simple, and you start feeling like the game is fun almost right away. There are a lot of people making them because you can feel that fun in them. And because there aren’t as many people playing them, most of them are inevitably made as indie games now. (Dedeo) And that’s probably better suited to the way things are today. Games can be sold as downloadable titles now, so it’s much easier to market small games that way. (Fujikawa) So if you want to make a hit indie game, you should target salarymen…!? (ZUN) Yeah…that’s a tough one isn’t it (Laughs Bitterly). (Dedeo) An indie shooting game aimed at salarymen is way too narrow of a target. I would like to see it though. (Hanzoumon) I don’t think they’d even take notice of it these days (Laughs) Shooters and “Rapid-Fire” Culture (Dedeo) I like games that let me just hold down the button when I’m shooting. (Hanzoumon) But when it comes to games where you can just hold down the button to continuously fire a laser, there are a lot of cases where rapid-firing the regular shot is stronger. (ZUN) Also it was also often the case that the arcades themselves would install a rapid-fire button into the cabinet as a service to the customers, when it wasn’t originally there. (Iona) I definitely noticed arcades using rapid-fire buttons in the 80s. (Nishikawa) Has the culture of having to rapid-fire with your hand already disappeared from the history of shooting games? (ZUN) Probably because rapid-firing being fun is a way of thinking that’s disappeared. The basic way of thinking about games was that the game responding because you hit a button in of itself was fun. So the phenomenon of more bullets appearing the more you rapid-fired was interesting. Nowadays a game responding because you hit a button is a given. So most people don’t want to be bothered to have to keep rapid-firing. (Iona) Back then high scores used to be separated into with rapid-fire and without rapid-fire (Laughs) (Dedeo) Yeah they were! (Laughs) I wonder if there were a lot of people who saw it as cheating? (Fujikawa) I think there were! Back then I always wanted to say things like “Apologize to Takahashi Meijin! Just use your fingers already!”. Of course I don’t think that way anymore, but… (Hanzoumon) Depending on the game, you might have even been given rapid-fire automatically as a power-up. I think rapid-fire was such an important thing that it was even included in the systems themselves of some of those games. (Nishikawa) There were some of those, but which ones had that again? (ZUN) Thunder Blaster did. I think it was around the time that game was made that systems started incorporating rapid-fire culture into them. Nowadays you just take that for granted. (Fujikawa) Rubbing your finger rapidly across the button to get rapid-fire is something you can only experience in older games… (Iona) The skin on my finger started peeling off at one point. (Dedeo) Same here. When I used my nail to run across the button while playing Truxton, my nail broke and I got a blister on my finger. So I couldn’t play anymore until all that healed (Laughs). By the way, it looks like this place is about to close, so… (ZUN) Huh? We haven’t talked nearly enough yet! Boss Characteristics Liven Games Up (Dedeo) Don’t worry ZUN! We here at the “Famitsu Shooting Friends Party” don’t know the meaning of the words “last train”! (Fujikawa) That is to say, now we’re at a bar that’s open until morning. Let’s go for a second loop! (ZUN) We’re talking about shooters, so there has to be a second loop (Laughs). Of course our conversations will get more in depth too. (Hanzoumon) I…I’m worried I might not be able to keep up! (ZUN) Ahh, speaking of second loops, there’s a particular boss that comes to mind. In Aero Fightesr 3 (Sonic Wings 3) there’s a boss that destroys the National Diet Building or something, these tiny little tanks just appear on the second loop. They’re very fast, and very brutal (Laughs). It really made me laugh. (Dedeo) I remember that! (Laughs) The characters were like a ninja and a robot or something, I really liked that one. (Nishikawa) And a dolphin named “Whity” or something (Laughs) (Iona) Shooters came from an era where they couldn’t get by on just game-iness alone, so unique characters like that were important. (ZUN) In the 90s that was absolutely true. Psikyo’s Samurai Aces (Sengoku Ace) and such brought about many unique characters, like Koyori and Aine. (Dedeo) I still really like Marion from Gunbird, even now. She’s cute, and is very easy to use. (ZUN) The characters themselves can be fascinating, but that uniqueness should be displayed front and center in the game. Of course the games that we’ve mentioned up until now have had fun stories and some interesting characters, but it could be better. (Fujikawa) How should one go about emphasizing the characters…with character direction? Weapons? (ZUN) There’s no need to obsess over the player characters, because the important ones are the enemy characters. The game will shine because the enemies have personality. (Hanzoumon) It’s true that most of the shooters that are regarded as being famous have bosses that really stick in your mind! (Nishikawa) This is the case with the Darius series too, but R-Type really sticks in my mind for this as well. The Dobkeratops. (Fujikawa) When it comes to bosses that act as highlights of the game, I think that all started with Xevious’ Andor Genesis. Bombs and Extra Lives Are Resources For Score (Dedeo) When it comes to the particulars of certain games, the difference between how bombs work is a big one. There are bombs that are used for emergency evasion, and there are bombs that are meant for firepower and take a bit to explode, like in Raiden. (Iona) Back then there weren’t many cases of bombs being used for evasion purposes. You’d save them until a really tough enemy appeared, and then unleash them like some kind of special technique. (Hanzoumon) In Exed Exes when you pushed the button, all of the enemy bullets would disappear from the screen. (ZUN) There are games where you get to choose what type of bomb to use. A lot of them are for emergency evasion though, don’t you think? (Dedeo) Personally I don’t like bombs being incorporated into the game’s scoring system! When you’re told that you don’t get any kind of a bonus for using bombs, doesn’t it make you want to use bombs less? (Fujikawa) Even though you should use them if you don’t want to die, regardless of whether or not it increases your score… (ZUN) No matter what the game, it always comes down to a matter of how to best use bombs and extra lives as resources for increasing score. (Nishikawa) Battle Garegga is the epitome of games that are actually about resource management. (Dedeo) It’s a very mysterious game for someone who doesn’t know how it works. You just start self-destructing all of the sudden. And just when you think “Huh, did I mess up?”, you see the message that says “Rank Up”. Yeah, it’s a difficult game to explain (Laughs) The Next “Conversation Hell” Is Already In The Works…!? (ZUN) Wow, I sure did a lot of the talking tonight, but has everyone else been having fun? (Dedeo) Not at all, it was a lot of fun! Shooters really are great, aren’t they? (Fujikawa) I hope we can all do this again next time too. (ZUN) By the way, Namiki Manabu (The composer for Battle Garegga, etc.) loves these kinds of conversations too. Next time I’d like to involve him as well, so we can get some shooting soundtrack talk in. (Hanzoumon) I’d really love to hear that! (Nishikawa) That’s a great idea. It’s decided then! (Iona) We have to make a heartfelt call to him then. (ZUN) (Laughs) Also I was wondering if we shouldn’t have a conversation like this not just about shooters, but about fighting games too… (Fujikawa) How many connections do you have!? And The Deep “Conversation Hell” Continued Until Morning…
  9. Article : ST: Gun.Smoke [Arcade] Author : BIL (system11) Source : https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=57706 Reason : Preserved on July 5th, 2018 in case original source goes down. (c) 1985 Capcom "RAIN OF BULLETS WITH THE TWO DEATH-DELIVERING GUNS" 0. Introduction AI. Prepare for the hardcore tactical shooting, 🤠 This ST's focus is survival - Gun.Smoke's scoring is broken by easy boss milking, and relevant only as a source of extends. It should provide the foundations for a confident 1CC - beyond that point, I am still very much a novice. Contributions and corrections gratefully accepted! I've deliberately prioritised basic technique and tactics over step-by-step stage walkthroughs. A handful of stage/boss chokepoints aside, Gun.Smoke's main threat is its enemy AI, which is best countered with studied technical response. And with the very front-loaded difficulty curve, mastering the first three rounds will whip you into good shape for the remaining seven. However, I've still included round overviews, with specific focus on significant chokepoints as I see them. If you'd like commentary on something I've not covered, please ask and I'll do my best! For a video walkthrough of Gun.Smoke, with much of this ST's info covered via commentary, check out Shooting Game Weekly episode 53! Hosted by Aquas, and guest-starring Frenetic and yours truly. Timestamped links to important strategies are included throughout this guide. It's a 1CC with a couple deaths apiece in the final three rounds - far from Superplay quality, but it should suffice here. About game versions: this ST is written for the arcade version of Gun.Smoke, using the Japan ROMset via MAME. Home variants, such as the FDS/NES interpretation, are not covered by this guide. I am honestly not sure how the arcade game's other regions (World and US) differ, if at all - for the time being, I will assume the information herein applies to them, as well as the port in Capcom Generation 4 (PS1/Saturn), plus the emulation in Capcom Classics Collection (PS2/Xbox/PSP). Perikles reports the following, regarding the US arcade version: Ta bud! Contents I: Player Character "Billy" II: Game Systems IIa: Multi-Angle Shooting IIb: Autofire? IIc: Powerups & Other Items III: Useful Techniques IIIa: Zoning IIIb: Strafing IIIc: Incorporating the Above for Successful Bounty Killing IV: Enemies & Boss Battle Overview IVa: Enemies - General Rules & Tips IVb: Detailed Enemy Info IVb: Boss Battles - General Rules & Tips V: Before setting out Va: THE KILLING ROAD / Difficulty Curve Examined Vb: Terrain Types VI: Game Walkthrough [CTRL+F code for quick search] Round 1: Master / Winchester [GS01 / GS01B] Round 2: Roy / Knife [GS02 / GS02B] Round 3: Ninja / Darts [GS03 / GS03B] Round 4: Cutter / Boomerang [GS04 / GS04B] Round 5: Pig Joe / Dynamite [GS05 / GS05B] Round 6: Wolf Chief / Shotgun [GS06 / GS06B] Round 7: Goldsmith / Double Rifle [GS07 / GS07B] Round 8: Los Pubro / Double Pistol [GS08 / GS08B] Round 9: Fat Man / Machine Gun [GS09 / GS09B] Round 10: Wingate Family / Machine Gun & Rifle [GS10 / GS10B] VII: Replays / INPs VIII: Thanks ----- I: Player Character "Billy" Billy has great frontal offense, but is totally unable to attack anything behind him. Thus, a single enemy at his back is deadlier than ten in front - countering rear attacks is of critical importance throughout the game. Fortunately, Billy is generally faster and more agile than enemies. Players should exploit this to intercept would-be backstabbers, and double back around those who do manage to get on their six. Never panic or give up if you get a tail, or even tails. With experience and nerve, luring them upscreen before circling back round for the kill becomes second nature. See Section III: Useful Techniques below, for more on this. Billy fires twin pistols, with a significant gap between the bullet streams. The game's hit detection is very strict about your aim - it's entirely possible for enemies and their projectiles to pass through the gap. An easy pratfall is having a spear or arrow sail straight down the gap to kill the hapless player. Never be complacent when dispatching targets - accuracy is paramount, particularly with Billy's finite shot range necessitating regular close combat. Note that Billy cannot enter the top quarter or so of the screen. He won't be "crushed" by terrain if caught between it and the lower screen edge, but he will be abruptly "zipped" horizontally into the nearest open space. This can easily prove fatal if hazards are onscreen. Contact with enemies or their projectiles is instantly fatal to Billy. The only exceptions to this rule are 1) dynamite, which can be picked up and extinguished if you're quick and accurate enough, and 2) finding the Horse, who will absorb three hits for Billy before dying. II: Game Systems IIa Multi-Angle Shooting Gun.Smoke uses a standard eight-way digital stick for movement, and three buttons for left-angling, forward, and right-angling shots respectively. The arcade instruction sheet is apt: Image: Firing Controls As seen above, combine button 2 with either neighbour for a tighter-angled shot. Press 1 and 3 simultaneously to fire a gun in either direction. Note that this will divide your firepower, and likely your attention! Use with caution, if at all. I avoid the split shot for this reason. IIb Autofire? Generally speaking, external autofire is a welcome aid in Gun.Smoke - particularly during strafing attacks on multiple targets. A couple issues limit its effectiveness, though. Firstly, bosses tend to have significant invincibility periods between hits, making traditional "pointblanking" speedkills tricky. Secondly, your onscreen shot limit must also be considered - particularly with Gun.Smoke's emphasis on close-ranged combat. Beware of fire and forget excess, lest you find yourself "reloading" at the worst possible moment. Personally, I use moderately delayed autofire - quick enough to hose down crowds, but slow enough for tapping individual, precisely targeted shots. IIc Powerups & Other Items Without exception, all items are found inside barrels which must be shot repeatedly and destroyed. Some barrels are empty; it may well make sense to destroy these pre-emptively, as they'll provide cover for enemies (who can fire straight through), and will injure your horse if ran over. Gun.Smoke's powerup system is basic, but still requires explanation due to its odd presentation. Billy has three upgradeable attributes: movement speed (BOOTS), shot range (RIFLE), and shot speed (BULLET). Although you'll see these items stacking in the on-screen display (screen bottom), they in fact have only one level: ON, versus OFF. Collect an item to enable its upgrade. Dying will subtract one powerup item from each category - as long as you've got one remaining, the upgrade will remain in effect. Thus, extra powerups serve as a buffer in the event of death (or Skull pickups; see below). NB: just like your remaining lives, items will visually top out at five, but will continue stacking far beyond that number. (upper limit to be determined) -While Boots and Rifles are found from round 1, Bullets only appear from round 3. Thus, they'll be the first to suffer if deaths / Skulls start piling up. Prioritize building them up over the other two items, until a good buffer is established. HORSE The extremely useful Horse - in simple STG terminology, a combined speedup + force field. A horse field. Image This guy will boost Billy's speed beyond that of the Boots, and take three hits for him before tragically dying. Unfortunately, he will also enlarge your hitbox. Learning to keep him healthy until the boss appears can make your life much easier, but his big hitbox will require both advance planning (to stay clear of terrain bottlenecks) and a particularly aggressive approach (to keep the enemy projectile + barrel count low). Upon grabbing Horse, all onscreen projectiles (yours and enemies' alike) will be cancelled, with the exception of dynamite that's already landed. Upon losing Horse, you will receive a couple seconds' invincibility. Very useful during hectic boss fights, when you need to get close for Just A Couple More Shots. Charge in, sacrifice your faithful steed, and slay the boss before he and his lackeys can retaliate. Horse is found in every round bar the fifth, with multiple appearances in the sixth (three horses) and ninth (two horses). POW Smartbomb - slightly less reliable than you might expect. It'll promptly kill most onscreen enemies, but Knifers will merely take a dent to their high HP. Take appropriate precautions. (Thanks to Perikles for this info!) YASHICHI The most classic of all Capcom icons, from Vulgus (1984). Grants an extend (or 1UP). Found from Round 6 onward. Extends are also awarded at 30k, 100k and every further 100k points, by default. SKULL A powerDOWN item. Depletes one powerup from each upgrade category, just like dying. Found from Round 6 onward. Obviously, you want to minimise your contact with these. Don't panic if you occasionally grab one in the heat of battle - focus on regaining control. All remaining items grant points. Besides the dragonfly (from Son Son), note the debut appearance of the Holstein cow, another much-loved Capcom icon! III: Useful Techniques As noted in this guide's intro, Gun.Smoke's challenge is more in its combat than its stage designs. A mastery of engaging and neutralising enemies is readily transposed onto just about any setting the game has to offer. IIIa: Zoning (effective management of player and enemy striking ranges) With both player and enemy shots limited in range, zoning is intrinsic to Gun.Smoke. Always consider both parties' striking distances while negotiating the fray. You don't need to dodge bullets that can't possibly hit you. If you outrange an enemy, it may be more prudent to let them enter your kill zone. Don't stay within an enemy's kill zone needlessly - kill them to neutralise the area, or escape. IIIb: Strafing (targeted shooting while moving) Strafing goes hand-in-hand with zoning. The ideal is to smoothly cut into and through the enemy's kill zone, landing your shots while evading theirs. The angled shooting system is ideally suited to this task. As indicated throughout this guide, the worst-case scenario for Billy is an enemy on his tail. Good strafe technique will hugely facilitate life-saving counterattacks. Lure the would-be ambusher upscreen, then smoothly loop back for the kill while reclaiming your six. Beware of nervous, twitchy movement during strafing. An easy pratfall is to slice past an enemy's shot, land the kill, then retreat the way you came - smacking into the dead foe's still-flying bullet! Smoothly terminate your strafes, either by continuing on or halting. IIIc: Incorporating the Above for Successful Bounty Killing The below animated GIF should illustrate all of the above principles in action. I lure the Grey upscreen while keeping outside his lethal range, then sweep down and through his kill zone to land my shot. Animated GIF: Luring, zoning, strafing and killing. With practice, integrating zoning and strafing like this will become second nature. Realistically, you won't always have time to perfectly execute your tactics. You will be thinking on your feet, nowhere moreso than in the onslaughts accompanying bosses. Nevertheless, technique and tactical awareness will give you a crucial edge in a tough game. Even if you're forced to scramble, keep the enemy's kill zones in mind, and try to strafe towards an exit point with the aim of regaining control. "Spray and pray" will quickly see you overrun, and is no substitute for smart improvisational play! IV: Enemy Info + Boss Battle Overview IVa: Enemies - General Rules & Tips Enemies can enter the screen from the left, upper and right edges; never the bottom, though later rounds will see them spawning further downscreen. Therefore, when the walkthrough refers to enemies entering "from all sides," please assume it's excluding the bottom edge. Enemies will frequently enter the screen either through or from impasses like buildings or ridges. Leaping or sliding into action are common events. Never assume a screen edge is dormant just because Billy can't reach it! Generally speaking, if an enemy leaves the playfield for any reason, it won't return. IVb: Detailed Enemy Info (enemies listed in order of appearance, roughly) Gun.Smoke's enemies are a relentless bunch who'll plague you from start to finish. Learning their behaviours and quirks will aid greatly in survival. All current names improvised by me - any official data most welcome! Pistol Bandit (grey, purple) (1HP) "Greys" are the lynchpin of the enemy force - by far the most numerous, and the deadliest overall. Even one is a threat to be exterminated deftly. A group is a crisis waiting to happen. Suffice to say, much of Gun.Smoke's intensity comes from these guys. Getting a confident grip on Greys will be a huge step towards assured play. Greys pursue relentlessly in a somewhat circular path, firing persistently whenever you're in range. They will very quickly end up at your back if left alive; preventing this is of critical importance from the beginning until the end of the game. Their close-ranged attack and quick bullets make them a threat from the front as well, particularly if you're fleeing backstabbers. Clear them away wherever you're able to, and never underestimate how deadly they can be. Learning to lure up, then double back around a Grey who's managed to get on your six is an invaluable skill. Billy is faster than them, and they also have a slight delay when changing movement directions. Get a feel for this technique - outright fleeing is no substitute for deftly outmaneuvering and killing. See Section III: Useful Techniques for more on this. The less common purple variant are always confined to sniping from high perches, but will fire just as persistently. Obviously not quite so mortal a threat, but never to be treated lightly. Dispose of them promptly, lest you find yourself forced into their kill zone by other enemies. Greys will sometimes leap into the playfield from windows, ridges, etc. They are invincible until their landing animation completes; preemptively blanketing them with fire just beforehand may secure a quick kill, but be prepared to dodge if they survive more than a split-second. Tricking them into leaving the screen by adjusting Billy's position is another acquired skill that can come in handy, though killing is always the surest remedy! Dynamite Thrower (1HP) Enters from the top of the screen, then erratically moves around the upper half throwing dynamite. Not as immediately deadly as other enemies, but their accumulating dynamite will soon cut down on vital space, and can cause a nasty surprise if you lose track of it (particularly as it's not very visible, and its warning flash animation will sometimes glitch). Billy can pick up and extinguish dynamite by running over it; note that the collision detection is very picky, requiring you to hit it dead-center. If it's flashing and about to blow, you should probably stay clear. Dynamite will kill enemies too, amusingly. Not to be banked on, but fun! Rifles (purple, blue) (2HP) The game's "striker" enemy. Runs in, fires three shots at Billy, then hurries out. Purples enter/escape vertically, blues horizontally. Generally they'll retreat back the same way they came, though occasionally they'll do the opposite. Always be on guard, as direct contact is (as ever) fatal. They can't shoot while entering or escaping; this is a good time to blast them. They also cannot shoot if Billy is not in their frontal firing radius. Great to know when space is tight, but beware getting ran into as they escape! If Billy's nearby as they enter, they will stop early to fire. Otherwise, they will run to a set point before attacking. Their firing angles are limited by significant blind spots; it is possible to exploit this with practice. This technique can be invaluable in the tightest squeezes, such as Round 6's second ambush sequence and while battling the final boss, Pa Wingate. Knifer (4HP) Horizontally leaps onscreen from windows/ridges etc, takes a short hop, then leaps offscreen via the adjacent edge. Limited to killing Billy via direct contact. Vulnerable only while on the ground, invincible while in air. Their limited movement and attack make them relatively safe to leave be, unlike most other enemies. Generally, you can simply move above their horizontal path to evade them. Additionally, their high HP and limited vulnerability can make killing them tricky. Prioritize accordingly. However, beware of getting forced high up the screen by large numbers of them (as seen in round 7); you'll be more vulnerable to both frontal attacks and backstabber spawns. Window Sniper (1HP) Snipers hiding in various windows (caves in round 6), who'll fire relentlessly while Billy is within their considerable range. Annoying in limited numbers; dangerously distracting if paired with ground enemies. Can create a potentially lethal wall of gunfire in the large "nest" formations of rounds 5, 6 and 9, if these are not proactively destroyed as they scroll onscreen. Even if you're safely out of their range, don't let these gunwalls build up; their area denial effect will severely limit your movement options. Invulnerable during their "setting up" / "emerging" animation. As they're stationary, rushing past baited shots for the kill is an effective strategy. Likewise, it's possible to simply sit outside of their range and pass by, though you will obviously have to contend with the lack of wriggle room. As noted above, larger sniper nests can create deadly bottlenecks. Whittle nests by hosing them down while staying mobile; their fast, long-ranged shots make more considered shooting risky, even without ground enemies interfering. Bull (NA - unkillable?) More of a very rare environmental hazard than an enemy. These guys will remain stationary until you shoot them, at which point they'll begin moving forward. More shots = more speed. Will instantly kill Horse. If they're in your way, it's generally best to blast them proactively to free up space. Otherwise, you can simply avoid them. Round 6 Sprite Swap Squad aka Wolf Tribe The following enemy set is exclusive to Round 6, where you'll be facing Wolf Chief and his tribesmen. They're mostly derivative of earlier enemies in behaviour - beware of certain critical differences, however! Pistol Tribesman (1HP) Effectively a sprite swap of the dreaded grey Pistol Bandit, and just as relentlessly lethal. Treat exactly like Greys: exterminate aggressively, and never let them stay on your six. Upon close inspection, you'll notice these guys are in fact wielding rifles. However, for tactical reasons, it's best to regard them as roving close-range killers, ie Greys in all but appearance. Trust me on this one, pardner. 😉 Spear Tribesman & Arrow Tribesman (2HP each) In mobility, they are sprite swaps of the purple and blue Rifles, respectively. However, their projectiles differ: they can be shot down, but they also travel considerably farther. Adjust your tactics accordingly. Teepee Sniper (1HP) Functionally identical to the snipers found in windows and caves. However, they tend more towards a "turret" role. You'll often find them lining the route through Round 6's campgrounds - needless to say, put them down ASAP. Axe Tribesman The only truly original enemy in this set. They approach from the screen top seemingly unarmed, then begin throwing pairs of axes. These a) home in on Billy's general location and b) will quickly overwhelm you if the throwers are not killed swiftly. Fortunately axes can be shot down, but with the game's picky hit detection, prevention is most certainly the better option. Blow these guys away ASAP, shooting through any axes they manage to send your way. IVb: Boss Battle Overview The first boss, Master, immediately establishes two ground rules for Gun.Smoke's boss battles, which will persist throughout the game. CROWD THREAT: you'll quickly notice the bigger threat is not Master himself, but his unlimited supply of screen-crowding lackeys. As ever, keeping your surrounding space clear, your back in particular, is the top priority. Rather than alternating between crowd control and attacking the boss, you'll need to integrate the processes as much as possible. You usually won't have the time or space to ignore one or the other. Generally speaking, try to smoothly integrate strafing the crowd with staying ahead of the boss's attacks, landing hits on the boss himself when possible. Sometimes, more situational tactics will apply. Los Pubro (r8) and Fat Man (r9) are vulnerable to speed kill techniques that let you effectively skip crowd battling altogether, while Wolf Chief (r6)'s crowd spawn pattern allows an "all or nothing" approach - fighting off the mob until a pronounced lull, at which point the boss himself can be put down. My final showdown with the Wingate Family trio involves two speedkills (the sons), followed by a brutally tight "defensive zoning/hit and run" routine against Pa Wingate himself. In general, though, try to approach the boss and his horde as a single entity to be zoned and strafed. BOSS INVINCIBILITY: you'll also notice the game is very picky about when you're able to damage the boss. In Master's case, he's completely invulnerable while lying prone. Don't waste your time attempting to damage him then; focus on enemies you're able to hit. Most later bosses have their own variations on this mechanic, though not all employ specific "dodge" animations. Cutter's leaping, Goldsmith's rolling and Pa Wingate's crawl are later examples of invincible dodging frames. Los Pubro and Fat Man seem to lack these "dodge" routines altogether, both being vulnerable to speedkill flurries as mentioned above. BOSS HITPOINTS: note that though bosses' health is displayed in "blocks" at the screen top, you actually need to hit them several times to deplete each. V: Before setting out Va: THE KILLING ROAD / Difficulty Curve Examined The first thing you'll see upon starting a credit is the ten-mugshot kill list. Ten rounds may sound daunting, especially with Round 1 getting things off to a brisk start. Keep in mind, though - Gun.Smoke's difficulty curve is decidedly nonlinear. If Round 3's riverland seems bitterly intense, take heart that it's the toughest terrain you'll encounter (indeed, it provides the template for the final stage). Later stages and bosses do not represent uniformly harsher challenges - Round 4/Cutter and Round 7/Goldsmith are both noticeably milder than Round 3/Ninja's early spike. Do rest assured, however, that the final stage and its boss battle are very hard indeed. Round 6 also stands above all before it - three times the duration of the others, packed with deadly hazards, and featuring a pair of intense ambushes. Overall though, don't be intimidated by the seemingly endless roll of boss mugshots - G.S's difficulty progression is very much one of peaks and troughs. Note also that the game's extend rate is very generous, with further 1UPs available for pickup from Round 6. Between that and the relatively forgiving powerup system, you'll have plenty of resources to fall back on while learning the ropes. Vb: Terrain Types Like the difficulty curve, Gun.Smoke's environments are irregularly distributed amongst its ten rounds. Pay attention to recurring terrain features - they have critical implications for your tactics and survival. Type 1 - Town (Rounds 1, 5 and 9): Buildings infested by window snipers, leaping Greys and sniping Purples are the principle threat. Where the first round provides a fairly mild introduction to this feature, Rounds 5 and especially 9 unleash hell in the shadows of their buildings. You'll need to proactively deal with these "gun walls," lest their huge kill zones fatally constrain or outright cut you down. Type 2 - Riverland (Rounds 3 and 10): The hardest terrain type overall. Rivers cut through the stage, severely hampering movement and leaving you dependent on occasional bridges. The tightly sliced terrain leaves you vulnerable to both cornering by Greys, and sniping from awkwardly-placed enemies massing across the water. Proactive killing and finessed zoning of enemies and their fire is required. Mastering the difficulties of Round 3 will be a great stride towards conquering the rest of the game. Type 3 - Canyon (Rounds 4 and 7): The wide-open terrain in these rounds is actually a step down from the challenges of previous types. As ever, complacency is deadly and to be avoided, but you'll notice less environmental impediment while battling the enemy. Ridges harbouring Greys, Purples and Knifers are the main point of interest. Type 4 - Wolf Tribeland (Round 6): A punishingly long round that, besides incorporating Town's gunwalls and Canyon's ridge ambushes, sends you through campgrounds flanked by teepee snipers for the tightest firefights of the game. Fortunately, never seen again afterward. Rounds 2 and 8 are the game's most wide-open. They roughly conform to Town and Riverland respectively, but are much lighter on their deadly traits. A small mercy from that irregular difficulty curve, perhaps? Nevertheless, keep your guard up! The enemies won't be any less lethal, and they can freely cross that open ground just like you. VI: Game Walkthrough Round 1: Master / Winchester [GS01] Terrain: Town Terrain-wise, the first round is mild; lots of open ground, and few snipers in its buildings. Areas of concern are the narrow street immediately following the well, and the tight squeeze between water and buildings immediately preceding Master. The horse is found shortly before the latter; break him out quickly, and get ready to hose down the upcoming squeeze. Exterminate enemies vigilantly while passing through the gap. Even at this early stage, if you let foes encroach, disaster can ensue. Enemy-wise, the round is a little trickier. Grey Pistols are deployed immediately, kicking off their game-long assault. This is the easiest venue you'll face them in - start acclimating to their movement patterns, and practicing clean kills. See Section IV for specific data on this nastiest of Gun.Smoke foes, and Section III for tactical advice that'll help you kill the buggers. Relatively speaking, enemy numbers are low and terrain is agreeable - later rounds will be far tougher. However, Round 1 is not a freebie! If you're having serious trouble, it's likely you need to practice your zoning and strafing, as well as take a more aggressive approach to clearing enemies. In this event, please see Section III for advice. Boss 1: Master [GS01B] Arena: Not the hardest you'll see, but still a rough introduction. Note the spawn point marked [1] - it's quite low down the screen, never a good thing with Billy's total lack of rear guard. Proactively exterminate the Greys entering there. Enemies entering behind Master at [2] are lesser priority. Note you can outzone their shots by retreating to the lower screen edge, but be aware Master can usually still hit you! Needless to say, kill the Purples and window snipers flanking him ASAP - they won't come back. Battle: Master fires moderately fast targeted shots. The staple STG technique of tap-dodging to draw his fire works nicely here. Avoid retreating downscreen; his range is pretty long, making this unreliable and inefficient. He'll frequently crawl to avoid your shots - he's totally invincible then, so don't waste time attacking him. Instead, strafe to draw his fire while clearing out his supporters. Strafing the crowd while waiting out boss invincibility is a staple tactic you'll require throughout Gun.Smoke; as with so much else in Round 1, practice and it'll serve you well. Round 2: Roy / Knife [GS02] Terrain: Town (easier variant) A stage of two halves, with mild but persistent terrain involvement throughout. The first is lined by buildings on the right; besides limiting space, these harbour snipers, Knifers and leaping Greys. You'll need to multi-task a little to stay ahead of these emerging hazards while dealing with foes entering from the upper and left screen edges. Stay on top of things - it's good practice for later rounds! You'll find Horse in the very last barrel, on the right: The wide-open area sees enemies entering from the left, upper and right edges. As always, proactively clear 'em out with good strafing and zoning technique. Upon reaching the train, the stage's second half plays out similarly to the first - just inverted. Kill the boxcars' Purples quickly, lest other enemies drive you into their kill zones. As the engine comes into view, you'll notice Dynamiters amassing. Hose 'em down from safe distance, and don't worry about grabbing up their dynamite - it'll detonate on its own for a nice little fireworks display. Roy awaits! Boss 2: Roy [GS02B] Arena: wide-open, with enemies entering from all sides. Roy's arena, like Cutter's, Goldsmith's and Fat Man's, is deadly simplicity itself. Strafe all comers aggressively, and remember: avoid focusing on the boss or his horde to the exclusion of the other. Battle: Roy throws pairs of indestructible and rather fast knives at Billy. Note that he's limited to set trajectories - it's quite possible to bait him into whiffing. I recommend staying low down the screen, facilitating both this technique and crowd sweeping. Note also Roy's distinctive animation prior to throwing his knives, a valuable guideline while strafing him. Roy will be leaping and backflipping around - he's completely invincible while airborne, but quite vulnerable upon landing. As always, focus fire on the horde during his dodge, positioning yourself to strike once he's open. Round 3: Ninja / Darts [GS03] Terrain: Riverland Round 3's terrain represents a sharp, early difficulty spike; several later rounds pale in comparison. Between the ridges and the waters, impediments to the all-important task of crowd control abound. Mastering the battling of Greys in this environment will be a major stride towards competent play. As a general rule, minimise the effect of tight squeezes with proactive positioning - don't stay where you're liable to be pinned between hazards and impasses. Horse is found fairly early, by these boulders - grab him ASAP, then quickly fight your way up and across the bridge to point [1]. Gun.Smoke's first truly nasty squeeze will ensue shortly. I like to stay at the lower-left during the riverside section below. Greys across the water can't hit me, and there's a good amount of space to deal with enemies entering from the left and upscreen. Past the large ridge in the second image, the terrain is essentially mirrored for another riverside fight. Thus, as shown below, I prefer the lower-right of the screen. Zoning, strafing and awareness of the surrounding terrain are, as ever, critical here. As mentioned, this is a big difficulty spike from the previous two rounds, and several later ones - don't worry if it's brutal going at first. What matters it that you acclimate, pardner! Here's a Youtube link to this section. Ninja awaits across the bridge, immediately following the second riverside battle. Boss 3: Ninja [GS03B] Arena: pretty nice, at least in terms of layout. You've got the entire bottom of the screen at your disposal; use it to aggressively strafe would-be flankers entering from the sides. Upscreen spawns are constrained by the rocks, helping to corral them somewhat; try to plug Greys making their way downscreen before they get you in range. What's not so nice is the spawn rate, which is very high. Lag behind on crowd control and you'll be swamped quickly. As with the preceding round, though it may feel brutal at first, getting to grips with this intensity will put you in good stead for the game's remainder. Battle: Ninja is highly mobile, not only leaping vast distances but also teleporting about. He'll get VERY close to Billy at times, forcing you to the very bottom of the screen. This might seem threatening, but is in fact a major vulnerability. He cannot actually make contact, provided you're hugging the bottom edge, and is wide open for a blasting - exploit this whenever you see him moving in. Ninja's shuriken are quite dodgeable. Draw his fire while strafing and zoning, much as you would Roy, and keep exploiting his futile attempts to bump you. Provided your crowd control is up to scratch, the fight should be an intense but short one. Here's a Youtube link to this boss battle. Round 4: Cutter / Boomerang [GS04] Terrain: Canyon As punishing as Gun.Smoke is of complacency, Round 4 is undeniably a welcome step down from the hellish riversides of the third. Indeed, it's closer in pace to Round 2, with long stretches of open ground overlooked by ridges... and unlike buildings, there are no snipers within those to worry about. Enemy presence is fierce, however, with hordes of Greys leaping from the ridges. And despite the lack of terrain chokepoints, keeping Horse alive will be difficult if your crowd control is at all lacking. Remember, Greys can exploit open ground just like you! A lack of terrain markers can also make pinpointing Horse's location awkward. He's at the circled point below - roughly halfway through the stage, following a bunch of Dynamiters and heralded by a Knifer. Snatch him up, and keep proactively exterminating enemies as well as any obstructing barrels. Beware of the roadblock in the second image (which includes a Bull I just missed capturing). Hose it down, proactively sending the Bull on its way while the barrels break. Boss 4: Cutter [GS04B] Arena: another wide-open arena, beset by spawn points on all sides. As you should have learned by now, there's nothing for it but good technique. Let up on the horde, and you'll be quickly overrun. Fortunately, Cutter is a very manageable boss. Battle: Cutter attacks with dual boomerangs, which will home in attempting to pincer you. This is a fairly harrowing attack to dodge... luckily, you don't actually need to, as the boomerangs are readily shot down. Blast them out of the air before they can get too close. Dodging them is possible, but takes experience and nerve. Avoid needless brushes with death! Cutter himself is invulnerable while leaping, but wide open while readying his boomerangs. He also seems quite vulnerable to a looping damage trap, as shown in the video below. Upon taking damage and staggering back, he'll immediately try to recover and attack, only to be staggered again... etc. The horde will obviously not allow you to exploit this freely, but it's most definitely possible to work into your strategy. [ Animated GIF: Cutter damage loop ] [ Youtube link ] Round 5: Pig Joe / Dynamite [GS05] Terrain: Town The town setting returns, the difficulty curve has resumed its upward climb, and uniquely among rounds, Horse is nowhere to be found. Buildings are now heavily infested with window snipers and leaping Greys, forming large, deadly kill zones you'll need to tackle aggressively to survive. Indeed, from Round 5 onwards, aggressively tactical play is vital. You'll often be forced to carve your way through tight spots offering no initial refuge. I'll be relying more on the replay to illustrate, given the speed and intensity of the action. The very first building you encounter sets the tone, pinched against water and unleashing a trio of leapers. Blow 'em away promptly, as shown in the replay. Said building kicks off an intense run along the waterfront. As ever, proactive is the way to approach this. Hose down the window snipers as well as you can. The right edge of the screen provides some respite from their bullets, but isn't to be relied on with Greys entering. A river runs through the following section - however, after surviving Round 3, the generously wide bridges should give you plenty of space to work with. More of concern is the closing area, another tricky run in the shadow of buildings. Note the trio of Rifles, a prime opportunity to do some pre-emptive strafing: [ Animated GIF: Strafing a Rifle trio, Round 5 ending ] [ Youtube Link ] The area pictured below begins the approach to Pig Joe's arena. It is vital to eradicate the window sniper gunwall on the left before the battle ensues. Get strafing, and hose the buggers down! You've got a good few seconds to clear 'em out before Pig Joe's lifebar signals his arrival. Boss 5: Pig Joe [GS05B] Arena: as noted immediately above, destroy the gunwall. That taken care of, prepare for a nasty fight that'll test the nerves. Purple Rifle quartets will regularly enter from point [1], while Greys spawn at point [2]. With Pig Joe's mouth blasts hurtling down, neither distraction helps things. Technique and nerve are key. Battle: Pig Joe is one of the game's nastiest bosses, and a deadly threat no matter your skill level. He likes to chuck dynamite, to relatively minor effect. The real danger are his mouth blasts, which are not only fast, but have a nasty random offset. Try not to second-guess him; you might end up running straight into an off-center blast. Instead, as much as possible, let him fire then react. Notice his distinctive pre-firing animation; he has to leap, touch down, then shoot. He won't always shoot upon landing, but the process is a surefire signal to be on alert. It's also your cue to move in and land hits - just like Roy, Ninja and Cutter, he's invincible while airborne but highly vulnerable upon landing. Like the preceding round, Pig Joe represents the point at which aggressive, tactically sound play becomes a must. Only quick, accurate and tireless play, attuned to the rhythms of both the boss and his horde, will reliably succeed. Don't fret if you're unsuccessful at first - once you've acclimated to this level of intensity, clearing the rest of the game is only a matter of persistence. For a Youtube demonstration of this boss battle, please click here. Round 6: Wolf Chief / Shotgun [GS06] Terrain: Wolf Tribeland Matching the intensity level of Round 5, the sixth brings a brutal endurance challenge. It's three times as long as any stage before or after, featuring some of the game's meanest chokepoints, and capped off by a tough boss. As some small consolation, its marathon length consists primarily of familiar tricks (albeit deadly ones). And you'll be able to find Horse at three separate points - with a little chicanery, it's very possible to ditch your ailing steed for a fresh one, making the endurance aspect a bit less onerous. Round 6 also debuts two significant items, the Yashichi (1UP) and Skull (if you've not read Section IIa - avoid picking these up wherever possible. They'll deplete all upgrade stats by one, just like dying). Unsurprisingly, the latter are the more abundant... don't raid broken barrels indiscriminately. The very first one is found here, conveniently landmarked by a decidedly arse-resembling boulder (and right next to yet another debuting item, the very valuable dragonfly): Finally - if you've not read up on the Round 6 Sprite Swap Squad aka Wolf Tribe, please see Section IVb. These guys look new, but their tactics will be familiar. So, let's begin this uniquely long, grueling round! There's little guidance to give early on, besides keeping up the standards that've gotten you this far. Terrain is fortunately mild, but enemies will pour in relentlessly. Wipe them out with technique and persistence. Note the wall in the first image below - you'll see these a lot in Round 6. Both player and enemies will be impeded, but can fire straight through. Note also the line formations of Pistol Tribesmen in the second image above. Don't be intimidated - decimate them with a quick strafing. Your first Horse will arrive before long, at the circled point in the third image above. You'll encounter your first Teepee Snipers just ahead, neatly gathered on the right for an easy introduction. The gates immediately after lead into the round's first ambush site - watch for the teepee at the upper-left. This first ambush is relatively mild - nothing compared to some of the boss arenas you've cleared in previous rounds. I'm unsure of how important it is to hit Wolf Chief himself... you certainly can't kill him, and he'll leave quickly regardless. Immediately afterward is the round's first truly nasty stretch. A real gauntlet - a narrow path flanked by Teepees, with Pistols entering from upscreen. Controlled aggression is critical, hesitation is lethal - you've got to carve a path through. I try to kill the Teepees before I'm ever in a position to be flanked by them. [ Youtube link to replay ] Once you reach the bridge and the grass beyond, things will ease back from this deadly extreme. Don't relax, however! The Pistols leaping from the ridges will be landing very low on the screen - stick close and wipe them out pro-actively, as shown in the first image below. The proximity may feel risky at first, but it's far preferable to being tailed. You'll find the second Horse at the fourth and final ridge, shown in the second image. As cold as it sounds, if your first steed has survived to this point with hits taken, you should suicide him before collecting the new mount. If he's unscathed, blow the barrels away regardless to free up room. Grab the Yashichi/1UP (third image) on the way out, if you've got time. Tactically, the next area should be familiar territory. Cave snipers feature heavily; deal with them much like you have their urban counterparts. Note the POW circled below - I like to wait until it's scrolled down a bit, to nuke as many enemies as possible. Speedkill the ridge leapers beyond the walls (second image) just like those from the grassland, and prepare for the second, final, and much harder ambush. Notice the line of four barrels in the upper-right of the final image below - I find them a useful countdown / visual aid. Continue exterminating enemies as the barrels and then the ridge scrolls in - the ambush begins the instant the screen stops moving. The ambush is short but intense, and definitely calls for video illustration. [ Youtube link ] Zoning is critical - you'll notice none of the enemies entering from the upper half of the screen can hit my position at the bottom. Blue Rifles and Pistols entering from the right screen edge can hit me; however, I quickly strafe them. Thus, I compartmentalize the enemies into 1) uppers unable to hit me and 2) lowers to be speedkilled. You receive no breather for surviving the onslaught - in fact, the seconds immediately following are just as lethal. As seen in the replay, as the scrolling resumes, prepare to speedkill 1) the enemies remaining, 2) those leaping in from the ridge, and 3) those entering via the bridge upscreen. The latter group marks the debut of Axe Throwers, a thankfully rare enemy you'll want to exterminate before their projectiles inundate the screen. A large pack of them will attack before you've made it across the bridge - wipe 'em out pronto. Note the 1UP highlighted in the first image below - try not to grab the Skull next to it, like I did in my replay! Don't worry about getting "crushed," you'll be zipped back to the bridge. Make sure there's nothing on there to be zipped into, however. The canyon area in the third image above marks the start of the home stretch. Pace remains brutally intense; nothing less than aggressive, deft strafing will get you through. Note the POW and enemy highlighted - he'll rush in every time, so plan accordingly. The campground immediately beyond holds the third and final Horse, at the spot marked below. As before, suicide your current steed if it's practical. Don't worry - the ending sequence will not forget his sacrifice. ;_;7 I prefer to think it's just the one Hoss, tbh, and you're meant to do the whole game without losing him. 😉 Teepee gauntlets make up the remainder of the level, followed by another brief canyon sequence. As ever, there's no easy way around this stuff. Strafe and kill diligently, making sure to wipe out the Teepees and neutralize their kill zones. The teepee shown in the third image marks the end of this punishing stage. Strafe the cave snipers and prepare for the boss. Boss 6: Wolf Chief [GS06B] Arena: just like Ninja's, it's quite workable; wide-open with a corralling gate at the top edge. Also like Ninja's, the crowd spawning rate is fierce. However, there is a critical difference. Wolf Chief's horde seems to suffer from a very exploitable spawning schedule - an intense opening attack, followed by a pronounced lull. As demonstrated in the replay, this is a powerful bit of data. Take down the crowd while giving Wolf Chief and his buckshot a wide berth, then rush in and put him down. [ Youtube link ] Battle: Wolf Chief fires a three-pellet burst. At long range, you can sidestep the central shot while the others miss; if he's close, you should strafe broadly to evade the entire pattern. As shown, he is immobile and highly vulnerable after firing - evade his attack then plug him, in one deft motion. Round 7: Goldsmith / Double Rifle [GS07] Terrain: Canyon From this point all stages are of "normal" duration, though enemy presence remains as fierce as it's been since Round 5. "Short and intense" will be the trend. You're within sight of the game's end, and if you've survived this long, congratulations! You should have sufficient bounty killing skills to make it through. Fatigue will likely be the biggest obstacle to a clear, now. Round 7 is undeniably milder than the grueling trial of Round 6. It's not without its own deadly features, however. The path is often menacingly narrow; enemy-wise, you'll notice aggressive teaming of Knifer and Rifle formations throughout. Horse is found after the wide-open area; see the first image below. As with Round 4's Canyon, the tight confines, aggressive spawns and obstructing barrels make deceptively hard work of keeping him healthy. As mentioned, Round 7 likes to deploy Knifers and Rifles in tandem. Remember that Knifers are very avoidable; provided you're aggressive at clearing out the Rifles, it's entirely doable to camp just atop their horizontal paths, as shown above. Here's a [ Youtube link ] to illustrate. A short, simple round overall - don't let the terrain and devious spawns sneak up on you, however. Boss 7: Goldsmith [GS07B] Arena: wide open. You should know the drill by now - strafe the horde down, or be overrun. As in the preceding round, Rifle spawns feature prominently - snuff 'em whenever possible, freeing up their considerable kill zones. Battle: Goldsmith is one of the game's easier bosses, and certainly the easiest of the final four. He attacks with a widely-diverging dual shot that's slow enough to sidestep easily, and is short-ranged to boot. His evasive rolling is quite possibly a bigger threat, as it'll draw things out for his horde. In my experience, he seems to roll persistently while under fire; letting up briefly seems necessary. This could be just me, however. Regardless, he and his horde should be small potatoes for this late in the game. Round 8: Los Pubro [GS08] Terrain: Riverland (easier variant) A deceptively nasty round. Terrain is minimal, but the open space can quickly turn against you; enemies will be spawning from the furthest points downscreen yet. Horse appears early, at the spot shown below; break the barrel quickly, before the fence can block you. Keeping him healthy will require absolutely airtight crowd control; try to stay low enough to quickly snuff incoming Greys. Note the POW found among the stumps, highlighted in the second image below. Boss 8: Los Pubro [GS08B] Arena: deadly venue for a deadly boss. Los Pubro's overwhelming attack would be tricky enough with even minimal crowd interference - unfortunately, the Greys and Rifles make sustained combat extremely difficult. Luckily, sustained combat is exactly what you can avoid with an easy speedkill. Battle: Los Pubro is both lethal and eminently skippable. In a straight fight he's the most dangerous boss you've faced so far, firing a barrage that compensates for simplicity with brutal frequency. Strafing from just outside his kill zone is very possible, though the horde will of course complicate matters. Here's a failed attempt at this tack, from my replay. Close but no cigar! [ Youtube link: Los Pubro, non-speedkill (failure) ] And here's the "eminently skippable" part. With proper positioning and Los Pubro's total lack of evasive capability, you can kill him before he or his horde get to do much. [ Youtube link: Los Pubro, speedkilled ] As a post-script to this boss, note that dying and respawning will put you within easy reach of a full upgrade set, allowing you to quickly neutralise the impact to your stats. Round 9: Fat Man / Machine Gun [GS09] Terrain: Town Round 9 follows the endgame's trend of short, wickedly intense stages. It can be boiled down to an intense run along a massive gunwall of a building on the left, followed by an inversion of the same. You'll notice the open edges of the screen allow you to outzone the window snipers - this approach obviously requires you to keep on top of enemies spawning on your side of the screen. Horse is found in the break between the stage's two halves, as seen in the third image below. Boss 9: Fat Man [GS09B] Arena: to the best of my current knowledge, Fat Man is a reprise of Los Pubro minus the easy speedkill. It's still possible (and preferable) to take him down swiftly, as he shares Pubro's traits of overwhelming firepower and zero evasion - but killing him won't be quite as simple, and his arena is just as dangerous. Battle: Fat Man is effectively a Los Pubro sprite swap. At the time of this writing (v1.0), I am not sure if he can be speedkilled with similar ease... notably, where Pubro attacks promptly, Fat Man takes a while to arrive, allowing the horde to gather. For the time being, I will confirm that the "regular" method of killing Pubro works. Strafe just outside of Fat Man's kill zone and he'll die before very long. [ Youtube link: Fat Man strafing kill ] Round 10: Wingate Family / Machine Gun & Rifle [GS10] Terrain: Riverland The final round takes "short and intense" to its extreme. The terrain is actually not quite as tortuous as Round 3's worst... however, the spawn frequency is hellish. Horse is found early, at the spot marked below. To my shame, my current run doesn't manage to keep him until the final boss - that would seem to require a prodigiously fast, skilled attack beyond my present abilities. Fortunately, the final boss is quite killable without the horse! When you reach the bridge shown in the second image above, ominous BGM will herald the showdown. Don't let up your attack until you've reached the area in the third image - it's very possible to die during this approach phase. Boss 10: Wingate Family [GS10B] Technically, there are three final bosses. However, with a little practiced nerve, neither of Pa's sons will survive long - both are extremely vulnerable to a speedkilling frontal attack. As shown in the replay below, there's ample time before Pa arrives, and both sons' positions near the screen edge put the horde at a disadvantage. Interferer's will be quickly cut down in the process. [ Youtube link: Speedkilling the Junior Wingates ] Those two dead, let's move onto the real threat: Pa Wingate. I'll break format for the finale by covering his attack first and arena second, as Pa has a nasty trick up his sleeve. Battle: Pa himself is a much deadlier proposition than his sons, chiefly for a dominating and initially invisible feature of his spreadshot. See the "bullet puff" animation as his shots terminate? Not only are these puffs absolutely lethal to touch, but their hitboxes will remain active for at least a few frames after the sprites have disappeared. It's effectively a solid, invisible wall of death. You've got to wait for it to fall, rush in to score your hits while Pa's not in his invincible crawling phase, then retreat as a fresh spread is loosed. The timing is tight, but a groove is definitely possible to pick up on. Of course, Pa's horde isn't going to sit back and watch. Arena: in my current strategy, taming the arena requires a methodical "fortress" approach, based at the bottom-centre of the screen. Greys entering from the left and right edges are exterminated as per usual. Dynamiters from upscreen can be largely ignored - provided you don't run straight into an exploding stick, you'll be safe at the bottom edge and can kill them while scoring hits on Pa. You'll notice that I don't always immediately kill the Blue Rifles entering from left edge - if I'm busy with Pa or other enemies, I'll exploit their blind spots. [ Youtube link: Pa Wingate zoning/hit & run strategy ] This isn't a quick method, but I find it very replicable. For now, it's the best I know of - as noted in the ST's introduction, I'd love to hear from other players! *** And that's it. The town is safe, Billy's battles are just beginning, and Capcom thank you profusely. I hope this ST will be of some help. Congratulations on making it this far! VII: Replays / INPs [Player: BIL] STGWeekly Episode 53 . [ INP file for WolfMAME 0.99 ] A very raw 1CC with a couple deaths apiece in the final three rounds. Forms the initial basis for this guide. Hosted by Aquas and guested by Frenetic and myself, with full commentary. [Player: BBH] Stage ALL [Player: Janet] Stage ALL [Player: Perikles] Stage ALL + [ Player's notes ] VIII: Thanks KoopaTGR for replays! Nug for the Famicom repro tip! Perikles for his replay and many fine observations!
  10. Article : Famitsu’s 2D Shooting Family Tree 2018 Author : BClarkOMP (Translator) | Famitsu (Source) Source : onemillionpower.com Reason : Preserved on July 19th, 2018 in case original source goes down. [BClarkOMP] The following is a translation from the 07/12/2018 issue of Famitsu magazine, as a part of a larger feature called “The Present State of Shooting Games”. You’ll find both the original scans of the chart as they appeared in Famitsu, as well my own translated version of the chart, crudely made using draw.io Famitsu’s 2D Shooting Family Tree 2018 When you think of fixed screen shooting games, the first game that comes to mind is Space Invaders. With that as our starting point, we’re going to explain the development and evolution of shooting games in a family tree format. Some of you will probably want to tell us that specific titles aren’t on here, but please keep in mind that these games are only classified according to Famitsu’s own research. With this, even those who don’t have much interest in shooting games should be able to understand how the genre has evolved!
  11. ***As of this episode, Gunbird 2 is not listed on the eShop, similarly to Gunbird 1. It should return soon, and we'll let you know here when it does!*** We enjoyed Gunbird for Nintendo Switch, so when Zerodiv brought Gunbird 2 to the platform, it was only natural that we had to take a look! Adding new elements to established formula, Gunbird 2 is a game that is better in every way than its direct predecessor... but how does it stack up? ================================================= [Join] the Studio Mudprints Facebook Fan page! https://www.facebook.com/StudioMudprints [Interact] in the NEW facbook group, Single Pixel Hitbox! https://www.facebook.com/groups/SPHit... [Follow] Ser and Daeruna on Twitter! http://twitter.com/serraxor || http://twitter.com/daeruna [Listen] to the PPR Podcast! http://www.presspauseradio.com [Watch] our Simulcast livestreams both here and on Twitch every week! https://twitch.tv/serraxor [Support] Studio Mudprints by checking out our Patreon Page and Ser's Music Page! http://patreon.com/serraxor || http://www.smpmusicproductions.bandca... ========================= This episode of Bullet Heaven was made with a copy of the game provided by the publisher for review. The opinions expressed are our own and are not paid for by developers, publishers or any retailers or resellers in any way.
  12. Round IV with the Sega Dreamcast. This time with a complicated setup and even new lights that makes things look great. You're welcome 😃
  13. Dreamcast to HDMI setup: TO be used in Bullet Heaven and Sega Dreamquest! Dreamcast ► Demilo DC to VGA ► VGA to video converter and scaler ► HDMI to XRGB Framemeister for forced 4:3 Aspect ratio from 16:9 ► HDMI to Elgato HD60 for 60 FPS capture ► PC record. Made with PORTTA PETVRHP VIDEO CONVERTER - SPDIF/COAX CONVERTER 1080p SCALER Get it here: https://tinyurl.com/y9ey6tvp Outside Canada: https://tinyurl.com/ya4jofay
  14. We're back with even more 360. More Pork. More Sweets. More soul. More Nyaa.
  15. Hand-picked BGM mixed to the SFX 1LC = One Life Clear = No Miss = No Deaths Season 3 finale. This game embraces the metal and the rawk. I respect enough to keep the subgenres within those confines. This is done on Normal Mode with autobomb on using Loop, the OP. Impressive like a fox, I know! Did I definitely keep a pocket replay recorded long before I started Season 3 in case I didn't feel like training to make a 10th video? I totally did! Bullet Soul is Region Free on 360. Bullet Soul Steam and Bullet Soul Infinite Burst Steam are Steam and on steam. Tag-SEO-tastic! Tracklist: Logos | Neel Kolhatkar - Modern Educayshun Intro Movie | Boris - Free Intro/Menu | AC\DC - Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll Player Select | Queensrÿche - Electric Requiem Ship Launch Intro/Stage 1 | Pearl Jam - Even Flow Midboss 1A | The North Star Mutiny - Walking Into Traffic Stage 1 | My Goodness - Cold Feet Killer Midboss 1B | Night Beats - The H Bomb Stage 1 | The Divorce - Yes Boss 1 | Harvey Danger - Flagpole Sitta Victory | The Young Evils - Darker Blue Bayou Stage 2 | Tom Compagnoni - Maiden Goes To Hollywood Midboss 2 | CantBreakSteelMashes - Cult of Crazy Train Stage 2 | SoDA - Nothing To The King Boss 2 | Synovia - Desert Blade Victory | David Savior - White Cocaine Stage 3 | Shinray {Yoko Shimomura/Street Fighter 2} - Guile's Theme Goes with Metal (OC Remix) Midboss 3 | Sixto Sounds {Mutsuhiko Izumi/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV} - The Shredder Stage 3 | Lennart Alsing {David Wise/Donkey Kong Country 2} - Stickerbrush Symphony Boss 3 | Lashmush {Yasunori Mitsuda/Chrono Trigger} - Seed of Perdition (Lavos) Victory | Léo Estalles {Nobuo Uematsu/Final Fantasy} - Victory Fanfare Theme Stage 4 | Symphony X - Seven Midboss 4 | Nine Inch Nails - The Perfect Drug (Drum Solo) Transatlantic Stage 4 | Marilyn Manson - Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes Boss 4 | Dream Theater - Panic Attack Victory | Dragonforce - Revolution DeathSquad Stage 5 | Dragonforce - Revolution DeathSquad Midboss 5 | Kamelot - Center of the Universe Stage 5 | Lamb of God - Desolation Boss 5 | Slayer - Raining Blood Gorguts - An Ocean of Wisdom (Enemies of Compassion) - Motörhead - Thunder & Lightning Victory/Outro Movie/Credits | The Hood Internet - These Things Are Nice -DJ Incompetent Drink & Fly Shooting Team
  16. ZUNTATA - Darius / Taito Music Team Translated by rancor. Happy New Year to all! 9:30pm here in Tokyo, and I've just finished this latest translation as my new years gift to you all. This translation is from the new Darius Odyssey book: Once again, thanks to all who have purchased a copy through me - your financial support allows me the time / opportunity to do these. If you would like to support what I do and buy a copy of this book, please PM me and we can work things out. I won't stop doing this, but every dollar made counts. As I always say before these translations: If you notice any glaring mistakes, or are able to translate some parts in a better way then please let me know via PM. This translation took me MANY hours to complete - an hour alone just to format it to be readable on this site - and if you appreciate it and would like me to have the time to do more, PLEASE consider purchasing something from the link in my sig. This work is purely my own, and it you choose to post elsewhere please give credit to me for the translation. I reserve the right to edit this translation as I see fit. Sooooo... here we go! Echoing Life’s Pulse In The Universe The story of the grand battle behind the DARIUS series - what are the unknown tales from the sound magicians behind the making of this series? The secret production story from the DARIUS sound crew. —Ogura, would you please talk about the concepts and methods for composing the music? OGURA: Since I am the type of person who cannot compose music without first coming up with the words and letters, I begin composing by selecting the right keywords. I could not have composed the music for the DARIUS series without these keywords which I derive from conceptualization. To achieve these ideas, I search for inspiration that my musical antenna would catch as I read book or take a walk around the town. That’s how I found the keywords needed for the composition. The keywords often reflect the title of the music. For instance, the theme for the score VISIONNERZ of DARIUS GAIDEN was “illusionary sight.” I decided on the music title reflecting the theme first, and it guided me to completion. —The first DARIUS was loaded with Body Sonic which had an enormous impact. How did you compose it? OGURA: The soundboard for DARIUS was special. It was made of two FM sound chips that each could produce three sounds. Each chip was turned into data after the three sounds of were grouped together, and both chips had to be played at the same time. But, a glitch in the design could cause them to play out of sync. Because the company’s sequencer at the time was an inconvenient type that used a hexadecimal number system, it was quite difficult to fix the time lag. The adjustment of the volume balancer was tricky too. Volume in general gives different impressions to people depending on their physical condition that day (laugh). ISHIKAWA: I have heard that DARIUS’s Body Sonic was created simply by switching the low tone “on” and “off.” For works succeeding Ninja Warriors, a part of PSG channel was allotted to Body Sonic which was vibrated by synchronizing it with the explosions, but in DARIUS, it was merely a developing one that vibrated only when entered in the boss zone. —Three years after that, the sequel DARIUS II was released, are there any episode with the volume? OGURA: DARIUS’s music was composed under constant pressure. Since the first DARIUS was a success, the release of sequels could be anticipated, but coming up with the keywords that meet the expectations was hard. Hints for composing DARIUS II came from the Bible. The keyword derived from the chapter taking about “child of light,” the music was composed based on it. And in response to the request to incorporate the voice of a child calling “papa” from afar, the cry of the child gets clearer as the stages progress. —Is that idea linked to the fetus boss (Biostrong) as he appears in DARIUS II? OGURA: It was just a coincidence (laugh). You must have seen Biostrong while the game was being developed, but it was not the source for the idea. Composing starts both simultaneously and separately from game development, so - it is extremely rare that game images are available while the compositions are being written. That being the case, specifications are usually given for what it needed. —I never knew that. There was an impression that all bosses in the last stage in DARIUS series appear synchronized with the music, that being the case, I thought the game development was done before the composition began, especially for the last stage in DARIUS GAIDEN. OGURA: DARIUS GAIDEN was a special case. For example, synchronization was applied consciously to both the concepts, screens, and sounds. The sound direction was adjusted by constantly communicating with the programmers. The last stage begins with no music but only S.E. first, and then the music starts when the climax arrives. ISHIKAWA: That type of direction is used in Dariusburst too. In the last stage, the same music continues from the beginning all the way to the scene where the boss appears, and the tone of the music changes when the boss finally shows up. I got the idea from the method used in DARIUS GAIDEN. —G-DARIUS is regarded as the starting point of the series, does the sound used in it also reflect the concept? OGURA: Not really, I was not conscious that the sound was made that way because the stories available while to me were really coarse. I didn’t even know the tagline “You Will Witness the Birth of Life” until the game was released (laugh). At the time, I was studying about chimeras created by immunology, and used what I learned as the concept for the music in G-DARIUS. The theme was that the enemy is the fusion of a biological being and a machine. The image of the music developed based on the theme coincidentally matched up with the unknown concept. —I have been asking about episodes in making of the first DARIUS through G-DARIUS, but what are the most memorable works for you, OGURA? OGURA: In terms of direction, it is DARIUS GAIDEN. I am fond myself of the idea to play the same music through both stages 1 and 2 is a good one. —The bonus CD album contains a compilation called OGR SELECTION which you personally choose the tunes to be included, what standard did you use in order to pick them? OGURA: When I got the offer, I had no idea how to choose the music. Once I started selecting songs, I realized that it was impossible to compose the selection with the 7 pieces of music. This selection is not what I consider “The Best”, but I rather tried to select the pieces that would tell a complete story. The first tune is CHAOS and the seventh is KIMERA II, that was already decided at the beginning, but the order and arrangement of the rest was up to me, and it was hard to do. I was not sure if it was a good idea to include the tune FAKE, or if the fifth track should be “Dada” or “Network”, and I completed it after repeated trial and error. —ISHIKAWA, From your point of view as the producer of this bonus album, what was your impression of the OGR SELECTION? ISHIKAWA: I honestly thought the album came out fine reflecting what OGURA’s music is all about. I was worried that he would choose a tune like CAPTAIN NEO, which plays in the stage 1 of DARIUS, caring for ZUNTATA (laugh). ZUNTATA KATSUHISA ISHIKAWA Works as a sound engineer for ZUNTATA. Recently he took care of total sound design often. For Dariusburst he was responsible for both sound direction and sound effects design. Notable compositions – Metal Black (sound effects), Darius Gaiden (sound effects), Psychic Force Series (sound director) ZUNTATA SHOHEI TSUCHIYA Works as a composer for ZUNTATA. He takes part in creating music for products ranging from arcade games to mobile applications. He is renowned for his wide range of music sense. For Dariusburst, he acted as the main composer. Notable compositions – Haunted Museum ZUNTATA HIROKAZU KOSHIO Works as a composer for ZUNTATA. He takes part in not only composing but also developing sound development aiding tools and sound systems by making use of his deep knowledge of sound software. Notable compositions – Space Invader Extreme Series, Music Gungun! Series. HISAYOSHI OGURA MUSIC LAB HISAYOSHI OGURA Works as a freelancer currently after having created numerous reputable music under the name OGR for ZUNTATA. For him, “music” should provide visually active experiences and fuse sounds and images. He was one of the composers of the production of Dariusburst. Notable compositions – Darius Series, Arkanoid, Kageno Densetsu, Galactic Storm, Kiki KaiKai —The bonus CD album doesn’t only include OGR SELECTION but also the Super Famicom version of DARIUS TWIN tunes. What was the reason to include them? ISHIKAWA: That’s purely fan service. To add premium value to the sum of the DARIUS ODYSSEY series, I thought it was appropriate to include DARIUS TWIN which is not available on CD yet. DARIUS TWIN’s music was composed by an outside contractor. But the direction and programming were done by us, so I guess you can say DARIUS TWIN is a work of ZUNTATA. Aside from DARIUS TWIN, there is SAGAIA GAME BOY version that is not available on CD yet, but it is going to be downloadable on iTunes Store as of December 2009. With this one too, you will be surprised it was created with only 3 simple sounds and some noises. The Latest Work DARIUSBURST Sound Making Behind the Scenes —Ogura, Tsuchiya and Koshio, three of you who participated in the composition of the music in Dariusburst, what were you guys conscious about while making the sounds? OGURA: In hindsight, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the keywords in making the tunes were “prime numbers.” Although the way the producer Aoki expressed it and the way I did it were different, the belief that DARIUS sounds should be one of a kind was completely the same for us. The image I had in mind during the composition of the music was the establishment of a “network without the core” and “multi-dimensional structure,” but when I began thinking about the titles for the music, it became the keywords “prime numbers,” which were basically the words that related to the numbers that don’t have any divisors other than themselves. But there was more than meets the eye to it - a lot. Then I changed the thinking process for a bit, and came up with titles using some English words and numbers that had meaning to them, and then when I researched about them further, I found that those meaningful numbers themselves were prime numbers. It was also the case with G-DARIUS, these coincidental chemical reactions are what make creating music for DARIUS series (laugh). TSUCHIYA: I began using a different approach to that of Ogura. I started by not feeling the atmosphere, but the words. Plus I haven’t heard any of Ogura’s music for DARIUS since I heard it once at the beginning of the project. Actually I tried not to. It was simply impossible to interfere with Ogura’s already existing world. What I was working on was to create music that lives up to what people expected in Dariusburst, and hadn’t heard Ogura’s Dariusburst music till recently. —My impression on listening to the music by both Ogura and Tsuchiya was that as if you two had met up and composed the music together in a secretive meeting regarding the unified sprit felt in the sounds. TSUCHIYA: That coincidence is what makes DARIUS sounds so interesting in my opinion. Although I was conscious the whole time not to be aware of the sounds Ogura created, but the end result has all the essences DARIUS sounds should have. That proves to me that DARIUS has the definite presence that determines the way the music sounds no mater who makes it. ISHIKAWA: This time around, we asked Ogura to join as a sound team member this time around while Tsuchiya was chosen to be the main composer. As the sound director, I am relieved to get responses, that it was undoubtedly the DARIUS sounds, from the people who heard the Tsuchiya’s music (laugh). —Was there any problem you had to overcome before you started composing? KOSHIO: First of all I made some demos, but was told by Ishikawa they were not fitting as DARIUS sounds (laughs). Then I thought again what the DARIUS sounds were all about, by listening to Ogura’s past DARIUS sounds I tried to understand solely what DARIUS was really about. Finally I came to the conclusion that the music of Dariusburst exists somewhere has nothing to do with the view of world of DARIUS Ogura has created with his music up to now, as yet needs to have the impressions of DARIUS… Actual directions for the composition only became apparent after having listened to Tsuchiya’s music. Tsuchiya’s music was new and well represented DARIUS’s world. ISHIKAWA: As the sound director, regarding the Dariusburst’s music making, I was nervous what kind of music Tsuchiya and Koshio would come up with after telling them to create something new instead of mimicking Ogura’s music. After all, I figured that most users were anticipating the DARIUS world created by Ogura. Honestly, in the beginning of the production, I was thinking that it was such a pain in the butt to direct it due the undeniable impact Ogura had created in the past (laughs). But Dariusburst was the only chance to show the world what ZUNTATA could do in the present progressive form. WHO IS ZUNTATA - TAITO’S RIGHT-HAND MAN? The name ZUNTATA was first used when the TAITO sound development team released the album DARIUS in 1987. Since then ZUNTATA has been active for over 20 years now. The main figure Ogura later became a freelancer. Currently with Ishikawa as the main guy, members as Tsuchiya and Koshio continue to progress toward their next stages. Out of the many sound teams for video game makers, ZUNTATA is surely one of the most renowned. It is told that it was ZUNTATA who decided the sound specifications for TAITO’s arcade PCBs. THE MUSIC STYLE IS EVER-CHANGING. IT ALL DEPENDS ON ATOMOSPHERES AND WHAT MY ANTENNA IS CATCHING. Even after Ogura left TAITO, ZUNTATA is paving the way to revolution and continues to give birth to new sounds. The sounds of Dariusburst are the expressed determination for ZUNTATA. What constitutes DARIUS must be somewhere deeper than where Ogura’s music lies. I am pretty sure Ogura can describe what DARIUS is made out of, but we really don’t want to know. Otherwise there is no point for me to direct the music (laugh). I firmly believe that we obtained significant assets by trial and error in pursuit of what makes up of DARIUS. —Speaking of what makes up DARIUS, would you tell us what it will be in the upcoming series. OGURA: How we make the music is ever-changing. What we feel and is caught on our antennae at the time significantly changes the atmosphere of the sounds. There are no set ways the sound should fall into. We’d rather not say what it is in words but as long as we abide by it, I think we can keep creating new DARIUS sounds no matter if it would be in the arcade form or for PSP. TSUCHIYA: I am well aware that DARIUS music has to be created by Ogura more that the fans do. Nevertheless, I would honestly glad if the users were interested in my other music after playing Dariusburst. KOSHIO: What I noticed after completing the composition was that both the game creators and fans have strong feelings for DARIUS. So, I’d like to discover more of those feelings through Dariusburst. I would be truly honored if I could incorporate the synergy in creating future sounds. ISHIKAWA: DARIUS was a piece of work in which sound direction was extremely difficult. If I can join the team again for the next project, I would love all the composers to let me hear the music made with unlimited imagination and new ideas again. DARIUS is a very special title to us, and we wouldn’t stop reinventing the sounds as well as the game itself. —Finally, please give a message to the readers who will play Dariusburst. KOSHIO: The visuals are beautiful and sounds are fit to the contemporary trends. We’d like the players to feel something that exists though the series by both watching, and listening to the new DARIUS. TSUCHIYA: They should discover something new in the sounds if they read our interview once again after playing the game. OGURA: Even though Dariusburst is for PSP, which is a small device, it is created so that you can feel the vastness of the world and the hugeness of the enemies. We really hope that the players enjoy it by expanding their imaginations without boundaries. We also recommend them to pay their attention to the original DARIUS soundtrack album, which is on its way to be released. If you listen to it as a CD album, you’ll start seeing a different Dariusburst world altogether. ISHIKAWA: This latest Dariusburst sounds are high quality as music in general and also function really well as game music. That’s only possible because it exists within a game, and it can be considered as “the game sound.” We’d really like the fans to enjoy the music and sounds as they play the game without any preconception whether it is a DARIUS game or any other shooting game. – The members of ZUNTATA and Ogura, thank you for the valuable talks today. *This interview was recorded in 2009. 2013: ZUNTATA TODAY ZUNTATA is thriving even after the year 2009 when the interview was recorded. In 2011 they held a solo live concert for the first time in 12 years, in conjunction with the DARIUSBURST - ANOTHER CHRONICLE developer talk show. In 2012, they released the album “COZMO ~ ZUNTATA 25th Anniversary ~” celebrating the 25th anniversary of the start of the company. It received much attention of game music fans for its luxurious content that included the work of 12 members of the team. It contributes their musical pieces to game companies other than TAITO too.
  17. SHMUP Master End of the Year Update: In this video I ramble on about my future plans for SHMUP Master. I discuss the games I've been working on which include the SNES scroller HyperZone and the Capcom 1988 shooter Forgotten Worlds and it's litany of ports.
  18. SHMUP Master Present: Gradius [NES] Gradius is a game that requires no introduction. It is one of the most well known and influential SHMUPS ever created. Everything that can be said, has been said about this game. There are more 1CC runs of Gradius on YouTube than possibly any other SHMUP. Not to mention there are also countless videos and articles showcasing and explaining why Gradius is such an important and memorable game in the pantheon of SHMUPS. What more could possibly be said or done? Why would I choose Gradius to do a video on? Well, with some help from my good friend Brasel the Gamer, we found a way to do something different. A collaboration! And something that I *think* has never been done before. For quite a while now, the idea of "dueling" 1CC runs has been tossing around in my head. And by dueling I mean two runs, playing at the same time, perfectly in sync with each other, recorded by two different people. A comparison showcase of skills so to speak. In order to do this, I had to find the right person for the job. And luckily for me, Brasel stepped up to the plate and pulled it off, thus making my idea a reality. Brasel and I both recorded commentary together, commenting on the runs while they were playing simultaneously. Hopefully the result is interesting to watch and our play styles, while similar at times, often diverged quite a bit. I also did what I usually do, which was spice things up a bit (although not too much) with a nice overlay. I also created a 5 minute "instruction manual tour" at the beginning while Brasel and I shared our history with Gradius. Complete with every enemy in Gradius, reanimated in full 1080p! Hope everyone enjoys! Feedback and suggestions for future videos are always welcomed! *All SHMUP Master footage was captured on an original NES Model 2 console (modded for RGB Output) through a Framemeister using RGB at 60fps. *All Brasel the Gamers footage was captured via a model 1 NES through composite input.
  19. Sine Mora - Shooting Gameside Interview with Theodore Reiker of Digital Reality Interview by Yamoto Shinichi —The gameplay system in Sine Mora revolves around the use of time: rewinding time, slowing down enemies, and extending your time limit by killing enemies. This system is combined with a story about time itself. Where did the idea for that fusion come from? Did you have the idea for the story first, or the system? Reiker: The system came first. For the idea of a game based around extending your time, we were influenced by an old Japanese doujin Galaga clone, Carax. It added a fresh, unique flow to Galaga, and we thought we could use a system like that in a hori STG. To that basic system we then added the ability to manipulate time. At the same time we started thinking about the world of Sine Mora and the heroes' backstories. When I was young I saw the film Wings of Honneamise, and I was deeply impressed by its wonderful world and the creator's loving attention to detail. I wanted to create a game that could be meaningful, too. I wanted the game to be like a well-written science fiction story, where both the game world and the game system, acting in tandem, would tell the story. —What made you decide to create Sine Mora as a horizontal STG, as opposed to some other genre? Reiker: At first we wanted to make an arcade version of Sine Mora too. However, after careful consideration and research, we decided to make it only for console. For creating a STG, The current generation of console hardware is very powerful: HD graphics, 3D surround sound, online replays, and there's even support for 3D displays now. To take advantage of these abilities, as well as the most widely used display form (16:9 widescreen), we made Sine Mora a horizontal rather than vertical STG. Regarding the production itself, Sine Mora is the first game I've directed. Before I got involved in game design I worked in business research and development. In 2009, when Digital Reality established its publishing division, I was introduced to someone from Grasshopper Manufacture by Risa Cohen, who was involved with Shadows of the Damned at EA. Our company was searching for a quality game to add to our portfolio, and we were also interested in digital distribution. But for me personally, more than a simple business opportunity, it was the chance of a lifetime to create a game with a legend in the gaming industry. So I left my position (in business R&D) and created the core team for this project. They're all veterans with a great passion and zeal for this project, and they too had long dreamed of creating a STG. I added my personal experience to this recipe and our "trojan horse" development began; our goal was to bring the dying STG genre and its splendors to a wider audience. —In Sine Mora, you don't have the standard STG system where getting shot once==death. What was the reasoning behind that choice? Reiker: We had two simultaneous goals for Sine Mora: creating a STG that would be deep and involving, and also creating a play experience that would be fun but different from other games. The time extension system served as the base from which many of our other ideas flowed. We also wanted to distance ourselves from the trend toward danmaku games and make a game that would appeal to a wider audience. Over the last 10 years Cave has pretty much perfected that subgenre, and we felt it would be suicide to try and challenge their dominance there. STG games today are synonymous with danmaku, and that's all thanks to the incredible passion of Cave. Therefore, we decided to make a classic STG different from the danmaku style. We think its equally difficult (in a different sense), while also not scaring off new players with intense danmaku patterns. I think there's still a lot of room in STGs for new possibilities and ideas. In our system, you can take more hits before dying than traditionally allowed, so its a much easier game to get into. I think this system will allow more players to get hooked on the genre. —Yeah, the fierce bullet curtains and instant death attacks can make STG look quite intimidating. Reiker: Yeah, it does, doesn't it? Sine Mora's story mode was designed to be easy, where anyone could play it and experience the enjoyment of STG. I think it would have been very wrong to have made that too hard. But, yes, since STG players love the difficulty, we made the arcade mode hard. As a genre, STG is focused on player skills. So trying to make an "easy" arcade mode would have been pointless really. The true joy of STG comes from overcoming challenges, after all. —The graphics in Sine Mora are very beautiful, and the retro-future mecha design is also very impressive. Please share any difficulities you had in terms of the art design and graphics. Reiker: Thank you very much! The audio and visual work was done by Grasshopper Manufacture, and we're very grateful for their wonderful work. We originally wanted to create something that more closely resembled Raizing's Battle Garegga, but Grasshopper convinced us to choose a style that would better support the dark, serious story. We then decided on a presentation that would be similar to Studio Ghibli's vivid color and animation style. Also, we were very honored to have Mahiro Maeda, one of Japan's foremost anime creators, as a guest artist. In the west he's known for creating the Second Renassaince portion of The Animatrix, as well as Kill Bill's anime section. Of course he's famous in Japan as a director. For Sine Mora, he designed 3 of the bosses: Steropes, Palladion, and the huge zeppelin in the Tira stage. When the actual development began, we were amazed at the quality of the concept art Grasshopper Manufacture had given us, and we wanted to recreate it for the game as accurately as possible. Luckily, almost all our design issues were worked out in the initial planning stage. Using a simple grey box demo level, we pointed out the significant structures and elements which the artists would need to create. The concept artists in Tokyo did the coloring for these key frames beforehand. The greatest challenge was the 3D presentation, especially with bullet trajectories. Sine Mora is entirely in 3D, and we wanted to make full use of stereoscopic 3D rendering. When you force a 2D game into 3D, there's the possibility for many problems. So 2D games that want to look 3D often use "2.5D." One of the most important things we learned in development was how difficult it was to insert a 2D object in a 3D space, in such a way that the player knows it is part of the gameplay. In many of the boss battles, we encountered a strange problem; that is, when the bosses actually entered the play area, the difference in scale was too big and it was confusing. So to blend the actual game elements and non-interactive cinematic elements together, we used some tricks. In many cases, we placed the bosses several hundred meters away from the background scenery, rendered the bosses' bullet trajectories on the same plane as the player, and avoided things like lengthy graphics fx and warping particle fx. I don't think players would notice these tricks outside of the stereoscopic mode. When you play on a 3DTV, the bullets are all rendered on a separate plane above everything. Before seeing it in action, this was my biggest worry. But it actually looks quite good, natural, and is suprisingly easy to play. —I was impressed by the Domus boss fight among the huge buildings, and the Libelle boss that looks like a combination of a giant mech and living creature... the artwork and the setpieces for the boss battles are very elaborate. Reiker: Our studio had never made a STG before, so we really struggled with that first boss fight with Kolobok (the huge guardian from the Moneta Point level). He doesn't just throw out a variety of bullet patterns and attacks, he also moves around as if he were alive. Blending the various animations together for those organic movements was very difficult. In contrast, the factory spider boss Tsuchigumo was the last boss we created, and it took far less time. Kolobok took about a month, but Tsuchigumo, including all his attacks, took us only a week. —Please share how you came up with Sine Mora's story, which features tyranny, revenge, and other very dark themes. Reiker: The main theme for our story is fighting against time. The time we humans can spend on Earth is limited. During our period of existence, we're constantly confronted with certain important questions: "Am I making good use of my time? What if I don't spend enough time with my family and children? Must I respect the time that went into the legacies of my father and forebears? How do time and trends influence our morals and actions? Aren't so many of our beliefs shaped by the place and time we live in?" ...and so on. The actual story comes from a dilemma I was experiencing myself. To me, Sine Mora meant "the chance to create a game in a genre I love", but on a deeper level, it meant working together with a country I deeply admire and respect, one whose history and culture is steeped in games. It was also a chance for me to share the doubts I had with others. —The geometry of the danmaku patterns is beautiful, and they're quite varied. Please share your design concept for the bullet patterns. Reiker: Thank you. It makes me very happy to hear that you like the bullet patterns! To be honest, we don't consider our game to be a danmaku game. Of course, since we love Cave's games and design, there's definitely that influence, and maybe its impossible to avoid the comparison. Our bullet patterns are a mix of the style and design of Raizing and Seibu Kaihatsu. We did a lot of experimenting with the bullet pattern designs. Our planner would come up with all sorts of interesting ideas, then we'd test them out in the game. Naturally, Sine Mora was influenced by all the STGs we've played before, and those we played during development. As a result the bullet pattern style is mixed, and I hope players find it interesting and original. —Which STGs you were inspired by? Reiker: Probably the biggest influences are Einhander, Under Defeat, and Shinobu Yagawa's legendary Battle Garegga. From Battle Garegga we took the score and rank system, as well as the dark theme and dieselpunk setting. Einhander is not a danmaku game, but is open even to casual gamers, and it made highly effective use of 3D. So that was very important. Finally, Under Defeat was an inspiration with its incredible attention to detail. And there's many other minor influences in the game, like Progear no Arashi, the Gradius series, Steel Empire, G Darius, R-Type... —Please give a final message to our readers. Reiker: I am very honored to have had the chance to work with Grasshopper Manufacture. They are a very open company that allows a lot of freedom, and they excel in creating entertainment that will appeal to players outside of Japan. Thanks to them, I was able to express my respect for the Japanese STGs that inspired me as a child. With this joint development, we were able to share our part of the world with Japanese players, too. I hope others will find this journey interesting and valuable!
  20. A cover of the stage 3 music in HyperZone on the SNES titled "Old Capital". Performed by: Julian V "Kogasu" Written by: Jun Ishikawa
  21. SHMUP Master Presents: Legendary Wings [NES] Legendary Wings is a SHMUP ported from the arcade to the NES in 1988 by Capcom. There isn't anything particularly great about it, but it's a fun, albeit easy romp. It's worth playing if you love 8-bit SHMUPS and don't want to deal with a super difficult game. This was the quickest I have ever been able to capture a 1cc run, which took me roughly 2 nights. I planned on just releasing the run with an overlay but then started adding things... and a month later, ended up with a fully produced video to go along with my 1cc run of the game. I'm fairly confident that no one has done a video quite like this before. I took the idea I started with my HyperZone video and expanded on it quite a bit. The end result is a "graphical guided tour" of sorts for Legendary Wings. I animated most of the enemies and bosses in the game and used them throughout my run to create a "video" outside the video, if that makes sense. My intention was to add to the experience of a game that is perhaps, a bit bland to watch at times. Hopefully spicing it up this way makes the game a bit more interesting than it actually is. Feedback and suggestions for future videos are always welcomed! *All footage was captured on an original NES Model 2 console (modded for RGB Output) through a Framemeister using RGB at 60fps. Also, please visit http://www.gamingrebellion.com. The official home of SHMUP Master!
  22. This is my 1cc no death run of Gradius 2 on the NES/Famicom featuring commentary. *All SHMUP Master footage was captured on an original NES Model 2 console (modded for RGB Output) through a Framemeister using RGB at 60fps. *This game was played using an original Famicom cartridge of Gradius 2. I used the Hyperkin Famicom Adapter so that it would work on the North American Hardware.
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