The development team at Cave have found an awesome new venue for its quirky game library — Apple devices. It’s released a handful of shooter and action games thus far, including Deathsmiles, Dodonpachi Resurrection and Espgaluda 2, and for a price that wouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to boot (unlike the region free Xbox 360 games). Those shooters have created a new market for the team, so they’re still pumping out games for it. This week, another “shmup” joins the pack, Mushihimesama — also known as the easier-to-pronounce Bug Princess.
Bug Princess is the latest “bullet hell” shooter from the company, and that description fits it quite well. You’re a lone pilot taking on a fleet of enemies that fire everything they possibly can at you, colorful streams of bullets that come across more like firework patterns. You’re allowed one hit for mercy, in which you temporarily drop a bomp to clear the field in front of you, but then you lose a life if you’re struck by another bullet. And I should tell you right now — you will die. Cave makes these games tough as nails for a reason, especially the bosses, who fire everything they possibly can at you. The final boss in itself is an endurance trial.
Along the way, you can pick up various power-ups that increase your firing capability, including streaming lasers and better bullet spread capability. You also score additional bombs to drop on enemies, giving you a chance to catch your breath for a second or two. And if one type of flyer doesn’t work out for you you can try another.
If you weren’t too crazy about Cave’s previous “shmups”, Bug Princess won’t sway you any differently, as this game strictly firmly to its formula. However, if you loved those games (as I did), then this will be right up your alley. The game once again utilizes touch-screen controls, so you can easily weave through bullets by gliding your finger across the screen. You can also drop bombs and change your firing pattern with ease, via set-up buttons on the corner of your device. It couldn’t get any easier to handle, obviously. So if you do die, it’s your fault, not the game’s.
Bug Princess once again showcases some outstanding visuals, like other Cave shooters before it. The game runs efficiently with very little slowdown, even when all hell is breaking loose on-screen, and some of the boss designs are outstanding and multi-layered, keeping you in the fight until they eventually crumble into one huge explosion. There is also a good amount of currency to snag, which boosts your score, as well as Achievements, which are easily marked at the top of the screen as you collect them. (The game supports OpenFeint.)
In addition, the soundtrack is wonderful, with great tunes playing in the backdrop while you fight this bug army. You probably won’t hear better tunes in a shooter this year — well, aside from DeathSmiles, anyway.
However, the game comes up shorter than previous efforts in a couple of areas. First, there’s a distinct lack of modes at the beginning, particularly an iPhone supported mode. Not the end of the world, but Cave is usually known for these extras. Secondly, there’s a crash problem that occurs when you don’t have OpenFeint activated on older devices. It’s bothersome, but we believe the team is already at work on a patch. Obviously, if you have a newer device like the iPhone 4S or the iPad 2, you won’t have a problem.
Bug Princess is yet another winner from the folks at Cave. Like previous games, it’s crazy “shmup” fun that never gets old, and the score challenges and vivacious presentation will keep you coming back for more. Unless you have a more ancient Apple device, this game won’t Bug you.