Log in

No account? Create an account
Linley Henzell shmups 
01:53am 26/11/2010
  Hi guys! This community has been quiet for a long time, so I wondered if I should start making some regular posts here. There's a small collection of not very well known shooters which I've found very fun and challenging. First, a little background.

Linley Henzell is the creator of Linley's Dungeon Crawl, a roguelike that some of you may know today as Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. After Crawl, he went on to create some rather nice shoot em ups.

Henzell's games all follow a similar style that I feel makes them very fun to play:

  • There's always a choice of ships, or at least a choice of weapons, allowing players to pick whatever suits their playstyle (you might expect that from a roguelike creator)

  • Distinctive polygon-with-filling style and warm particle effects.

  • Gameplay is always very hard from the beginning, but it's possible to make progress with practice.

  • There's a LOT of dodging and close combat.

  • There's always one ship or weapon which is very powerful but has some weird mechanic.

  • The challenge is frequently random - you never quite know what's going to appear.

  • There's normally weird, generated music in the background.

So I thought I'd review his games one at a time, and the first one I'm going to review is Transdimensional Hellspider. I'll try not to sound like a fanboy, but I've played Dungeon Crawl so much that I might not be able to avoid it. :)

Transdimensional Hellspider is, in Henzell's own words, a cross between Spacewar! and Warning Forever. I'm sure you all know those two games (look up Warning Forever if you don't, since that's well worth playing), and the result is a shooter game with a rotating and thrusting ship that battles a continuous series of increasingly large and complex boss ships.

The thrusting motion of the ship instantly creates a different style of play, however... in Warning Forever, dodging is fairly simple (not easy, but simple) whereas in this game, you can't just hop to the side when a projectile is coming your way. So it's more about thrusting at the correct time. Luckily, the hellspiders (the name of the bosses) are very inaccurate in this game, and your ship is small (only a hit on the centre will damage you). That doesn't make it much easier, but it makes it less annoying.

The hellspiders grow in segments, like in Warning Forever, and you can blast segments off. Each hellspider has more segments than the last, and supposedly adapts to your attack, although I couldn't see how exactly.

The hellspiders are actually weaker than Warning Forever's battleships - once you have the core exposed, it only takes a few shots to blow the whole ship to pieces, although it warns in the instructions that destroying the core without destroying the segments makes the next boss much stronger.

Unlike Warning Forever, you can increase your own ship's power as you play: every three hellspiders, you're given an option to upgrade one of your ship's abilities.

The player can pick one of six secondary weapons which require charging. These tend to have a tradeoff of power vs accuracy. The ship also has a shield which protects you from one hit, and recharges (but takes a long time).

There are a few minor problems with the game: the combat is maybe a little too close (although you can get a range powerup after the first three levels) and the rotating effect, while nice to look at, is a little distracting. A big problem is the hellspider graphics - the colours make it difficult to tell what gun is what. Also, there's no score, although I suppose it might not make sense to have high scores for a random game.

Those are just minor flaws for a simple and fun game, however. It comes precompiled for Windows and may work on other platforms if you can compile it.

Transdimensional Hellspider
     Read 1 - Post
Gundemonium Collection (PC Version) Now Available! 
11:03pm 06/06/2010
  Gundemonium Collection (PC version) is now available for purchase!...
...The PlayStation Network version is coming soon.
03:43pm 06/07/2009
  I found this neat freeware game a few weeks ago called Fraxy.

Remember Warning Forever, the single screen boss rush shooter with the boss that 'evolves' over time? Picture that, but with shinier graphics, and instead of evolving bosses, you get a rush of wackily pre-made bosses to fight. That's Fraxy. It's a boss rush sandbox, and a really well made one.


You fly a neat looking ship which moves in all directions using the cursor keys, and aim it using the mouse. A very nice effect is that the ship achieves its motion with thrusters, but it uses the correct ones at all times, so if you move and rotate you see the various thrusters turning off or switching on as appropriate for its angle.

The ship also has a variety of weapons, most of which are overpowered (this has been balanced in the new beta). It also has an odd power system; you have an amount of power which is depleted by various actions such as firing or boosting. This power also protects your ship, so if you get hit by weapons, you lose power. If you get hit while at zero power, you die, so your weapon power doubles as your health.

This actually works. It means that you can't just fly in blasting away without thinking about it - if you fire off a high-power blaster weapon, you're leaving yourself less well protected. Luckily the power regenerates, so all you have to do is fly away and rest.

But the game's main feature is bosses. It comes with about twenty pre-made bosses, and a boss editor to add your own. The editor is amazingly good. The bosses are made in Warning Forever style tree-form - you begin with a core, then add bits to this, and add bits to those bits. It's a lot more versatile than it sounds, and it also makes it easy to have weak points and chain-explosions on a boss (destroy a piece close to the core, and all pieces attached to it fall as well). The editor even has a simple scripting engine if you want the boss to respond to actions, but most of the pre-made bosses don't even need it.

Disadvantages? It gets a little samey after a while. The bosses you can make are great, but there isn't much to distinguish them once you've fought them a few hundred times. Maybe persistent debris would make it more interesting; blasting a ship in half, for example, only to have both halves still be attacking you. But for a quick blast, it's great.

It's mostly Japanese, but the author has done a passable job translating for English speakers.

Fraxy download page
Stable version of Fraxy from 4th February 2009
Beta version of Fraxy from - today! (which didn't work on my machine)

The beta version is noticeably better if you can get a version which works (it has a more zoomed out view so you can see more of the bosses you're fighting), and I haven't found any bugs in it yet.
     Read 4 - Post
09:45pm 30/12/2008
mood: ecstatic

(Crossposted from my journal)
     Read 7 - Post
My update 
05:41am 29/02/2008
mood: cheerful
So, I've finally beaten Arrange mode in Mushihime.

Finally took down TGA-RET at the end of that. Holy heck, what a fight THAT was. Cant believe I beat the blasted thing.

I then went and cleared Original and Maniac the next night.

Now Im working on Ultra. First stage is cake now, 2nd stage isnt bad.... though that damn scorpion irritates me sometimes. 2nd boss is the most unholy nightmare I've yet seen in a shmup, that counts as a "fair" boss (AKA, isnt something like Hibachi). It might be a bit less insane if the PS2 would stop flipping out during the fight, but as it is, I need to bomb the dang thing like 5 times to win that fight. And that's IF I win that fight, lol.

Stage 3 is less of a pain in the ass than 2 for some reason. The boss also isnt that bad as long as it's killed fast enough to stop it's almost-undodgeable final attack from showing, which unfortunately requires point-blanking it for half the fight. But it's not too bad.

Stage 4 is easily the hardest level of the game. Right now, I dont stand a chance here. I need a good route through the first half of it.... all those damn little guys on the rocks are what get me. Gotta find a better way to deal with them.... the miniboss here is second only to the 2nd boss in terms of insane difficulty. Boss # 4 is kinda a pushover, for an Ultra boss. If you can kill 1 without bombing, you can kill 4 without bombing, really. Personally, I actually found this version LESS annoying than it's Maniac-mode version, if that makes a lick of sense.

Stage 5, done in practice mode with rank on no-miss, isnt as stupid-hard as 4. Currently I can do the first half of the level and the midboss without bombing. Second half is irritating, them dang blue guys..... Boss is mean, but not as bad as 2. TGA-RET after that (tried that fight in practice mode, of course) isnt much different at all from Arrange's version... attacks a little faster (and has that damn shield), but from what I know, the fight is actually a bit EASIER, because there's a couple of points where you can point-blank it for rediculous damage, and simply SKIP it's worst couple of attacks. This just plain doesnt work in Arrange.

If anyone has any tips at all for that damn 2nd boss, I'd sure love to hear them! Any help is appreciated, with that damn thing.

So that's my current stuff Im working on, mostly that. Also got Radirgy on PS2 lately. Fun game.

Oh, and has everyone here heard of Space Invaders Extreme yet? New DS title. Apparantly getting a US release in June I think? Go do a search for it on Youtube, the trailers are on there. Very intriguing game.... As said by someone on the shmups.com boards, it's kinda like Space Invaders combined with DoDonPachi. The game has a complicated, Cave-ish scoring system (which sounds very nice) involving comboing and colors and stuff. It's possible to kill entire waves of invaders very fast with special weapons, but new waves spawn right away, they just keep coming. There are large bosses, too. And other crazy things. Apparantly the game gets quite challenging indeed.

Im gonna import this soon here. Just wanted to mention it, in case you all hadnt heard about it. Seems very much like a game worth getting for many shmup fans.
     Read 3 - Post
Blast Works 
02:47pm 28/02/2008
mood: hopeful
Hope this hasn't been posted before, I just saw this trailer. You should all instantly recognise the style. :)

Blast Works is apparently a new shmup/shmupmaker/sandbox for the Wii, which means I can't play it, but I'd be interested to hear reviews if anyone gets it.

     Read 3 - Post
People need to post here more...... 
01:52am 07/09/2007
mood: calm
Yes, this particular place dont get posted in enough....

So, gonna mention some shmuppy things I been doin lately.

Well, firstly, I finally 1CCed Giga Wing. Which is my favorite shmup. Ooooh I was happy about THAT one, yes.

Playing it for score now. Not entirely used to using Ruby though.

And last night, I very nearly 1CCed the Japan version of Progear (Cave). I got to the final form of the final boss..... and then it rammed me :/

That game is so dang fun....

And finally, playing Shikigami no Shiro 2 alot.

Trying to break 2 billion with Hyuga, which would net me the top score for him on the shmup.com boards. Very close to doing it, just need a better way of dealing with the 4th midboss (Hyuga's weapons arent of much help in that fight....)

And is it just me, or is Kuga waaaaaayyyyyyyy too powerful in that game?
     Read 2 - Post
Intro and DonPachi Questions 
11:01am 16/11/2007

I've been lurking here for a while, but I thought I'd post and see if anybody is out there.

I played shooters off and on since the 80s. Space Invaders, Galaga, Time Pilot 84, Smash TV, 194x, Gradius, Axelay, Sky Shark, etc. After the 16-bit era, I got out of video games for eight years. When I returned in 2004, I didn't think people made shmups anymore.

I started doing research after getting hooked on Super R-Type earlier this year and realized that there are still a lot of shmups out there for people who know where to look.

Anyway, I'm looking at the DonPachi games. I (finally!) have a copy of DoDonPachi DOJ for PS2 on it's way to my place. I bought it because I heard a lot of good things about it. To whet my appetite, I tried out the arcade version of DonPachi last night.

Now the questions start:

1. Why is DP considered a "manic" shooter? If you ignore the scoring system (which I did because I don't understand it yet), it's like playing Raiden. A LOT like playing Raiden. It did not have large waves of brightly colored bullets like I associate with the manic shooter genre. In fact, it seemed rather easy.

2. How good are the playstation ports of DonPachi and DoDonPachi? How is the image clarity? Any features like TATE support, extra play modes, etc?

3. Anything I should be looking for that's better?

Just curious because I'm looking for things to empty my PayPal account on. Thanks for any input.
     Read 7 - Post
New shmups website! 
08:17pm 12/11/2006
  I launched this site a little over a month ago but I'm trying to get more shmuppers on the site. It's basically a shoot'em-up news blog with forums, files, chat, etc.

Head on over, make an account and say hello!  www.Shmuptacular.com
Giga Wing!!! 
08:31pm 22/07/2007
mood: cheerful
Argh, was SO VERY VERY CLOSE to finishing Giga Wing on one credit today.... then I made a couple of REALLY stupid moves at the end....

The input file if anyone wants to see: http://www.sendspace.com/file/nbwn3h

You need MAME and a copy of the Giga Wing rom to watch that. But that's easy to find.

Practicing at the arcade paid off, it did!

Of course, even if I HADNT made an idiot of myself in the final fight, well, I'd still have to deal with the true final boss, that dark ship, the "Stranger", a boss Im not familiar with at all.... that would be a short fight, lol.

Argh, so very close....
Hi there!!!! 
03:49am 16/07/2007
mood: cheerful
Heya, Im Bridget, Im new here in this community!

Im a big time gamer and an absolutely dedicated shmup fan.

Been playin these since Gradius on the NES.

My personal favorite shmup is Giga Wing, and there's an arcade unit for it near here (whee!), but I usually play that on Gametap or MAME. Other than that, Im a huge fan of any game made by Cave; Mushihime-sama (PS2 version) is my 2nd favorite of all, and Im also fond of DoDonPachi DOJ, ESP Ra.De, Progear, Dangun Feveron, and well, anything else they ever make ever...

Also fond of games made by Capcom, Psikyo, and Raizing.

And, if anyone should care to have a look, I have 3 videos up on Youtube of me playing Mushihime:




I do good enough at these, but Im currently more used to the bullet-hell type shmups than the normal ones.... I can blast through most of Mushihime right now, but Raiden 3, which Im also playing, will eat my face....

Anyway, there we go, my intro, expect me to ramble on and on about these games in the future.
     Read 31 - Post
Now on the PC! 
08:08am 22/06/2007
mood: bouncy
I'm pretty sure most of you have already played one of the many clones of it, but Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved has been ported to Windows XP.
You can get it on Steam for 2.50 today before it gets bumped up to 3.95 starting tomorrow.
Works nicely, compatible with Dual-Analog sticks, Keyboard, and Mouse.
omg my eyes 
11:57am 29/04/2007
mood: amused
So I was just doing my usual thing, wandering across indie shooter game sites looking for something to titillate my interest, and I stumbled upon VECK.
Robotron/Geometry Wars style shooter. Works great with the XBox360 controller if you use it with the PC.
I like it!
     Read 2 - Post
07:32pm 27/04/2007
mood: bored
Well, I guess they finally decided to port Raiden III to the US on PS2 after it's been out for like almost 2 years already in Japan and half a year in Europe.
Nothing to say about it though. It's older than old school.
     Read 2 - Post
Anthropomorphic Fighters and the New Year 
10:55pm 01/01/2007
mood: good
Happy New Year, everyone.

Once again, I'm here to give you guys (all three of you) some not-so-new news about shmups that have caught my eye and are due for release soon. This time, it's Trigger Heart Excelica for Sega Dreamcast.

I was released on the Naomi hardware early last year by Warashi. It's coming out for the DC on the 22nd of February. I haven't played a new shmup in a while, so I'm kinda' looking forward to the release of this game.

If anyone has any other info on any new shmups, feel free to post (I've been too bust playing PSU to search lately).
     Read 2 - Post
Haha! What the fuck? 
10:56am 19/09/2006
mood: nyerrrm
I went to Fry's Electronics yesterday and my friend picked up this game from the shelf due to the hilarious cover:
Then when we looked at the back of the case, I quickly realized that it was the prequel to Castle Shikigami 2 that I already own.
I had no idea how badly XS Games bastardized the port of Shikigami no Shiro, but it's unfortunate that they removed all the story bits between the chapters. Seriously, the best part of Castle Shikigami 2 is the godawful voice acting during between chapters and bosses.
     Read 6 - Post
07:36pm 25/05/2006
  Hi, new member here. I've been playing shooters since the Atari days (Asteroids, Defender), but they never really clicked with me until Gradius. After that I tried my best to track down and play as many of 'em as possible.

Anyway, I noticed that there aren't many posts here, which is understandable since shooters are pretty much dead at this point (save for re-releases or compilations). But, how about we start some kind of Hi-Score Board ? Someone posts the title of the game (hopefully it's a classic title that most of us own), we play it, record our best scores and post 'em. Just for fun, since it's something to aim for. Also, how about something like Most Points Without Dying ? Or... Most Points Without Upgrading Weapons. Basic game challenges like that. It would give some of us a reason to dust off those classics again.

I've recently re-discovered my love for Gradius V. Hi-scores anyone ?
     Read 6 - Post
Smell Them Flower ... Girls ... 
08:09am 31/03/2006
mood: good
Sorry for not posting for a while, but the year has been quite busy, with me getting ready to leave [real] fighter jets and carriers behind and start a new life on land. Anyway, I've been playing Ibara, which is another Cave shooter you've probably already heard of. However, since no one has talked about it here, I thought I would.

I kind of have mixed feelings about the PS2 port of the game. I'm so used to Cave's design of their shooters, and I was thrown for a loop when I found out that Eighting actually made this game for them. In arcade mode, when you hold down the fire button, your craft doesn't even slow down! I'm also not thrilled to know that it's sometimes necessary to simply die.

Arranged mode fixes some things by making your fighter slow down while the fire button is held. It also lets you keep every weapon you pick up along the way, allowing you selection of them and different formations for the slaves (something that was simply a special powerup in arcade mode). They balanced out the gameplay by making the game more difficult and disallowing continues, but it's the more fun type out of the two.

I'm looking forward to Black Label and Pink Sweets, which are the update and sequel respectively. Supposedly, they'll both be out in arcades this year. Who knows when though.
     Read 3 - Post
Phantasmagoria of Flower View 
10:23am 28/09/2005
  Has anyone else played this newest of the Shrinemaiden games? It's a lot like Twinkle Star for the Neo Geo. I'm asking because I'm wondering if anyone's seen any FAQs or primers for it. The English Shrinemaiden site doesn't seem to have anything on it yet. Any help would be much appreciated! ^_^  
Raiden III Impressions 
07:04pm 20/09/2005
mood: bouncy
I don't know if anyone else here has played it, but Raiden III is ... well ... easy. Well, that's not exactly true. But I really was thinking it was going to be a little more difficult than it really is. Right now, the only thing that makes the game difficult for me is readjusting to Raiden's speed. It feels slower than the Raiden Fighters version. I even be inclined to think that it's not even the mk.II, except is has the multidirectional beam.

Anyone hoping for something like Raiden Fighters will be disappointed. This is plain ol' Raiden, folks. Same helicopters. Same tanks. Missile pods are gone, replaced with more large fighters. The quick shot system applies to everything, with the multiplier decreasing the longer the enemies are on screen (max is 2.0). If you miss anything, they just remain on screen and continue to shoot at you while more enemies pop up to fire, etc. It gets hectic if you mess up. The shots do have to hit a specific spot of your fighter to kill you, so they're pretty easy to dodge.

The save feature of the game allows you keep your scores, optional replays, and ACE replays. The ACE replays are the absolute best playthroughs done by people who have, obviously, completely memorized the levels. Considering it was in arcades before it hit PS2, I can see that happening, but what I saw was sick, like a robot did them. Think the Ikaruga video, only simpler. There are some other options that are shaded, but I'll eventually unlock them.

Oh, and did I mention that it's 3D?
     Read 3 - Post