Apr 06

XBox 360 | ESPGALUDA II Black Label – CAVE


ESPGALUDA II (don't mind the visible speaker mod, old photo) 😀

Updated 2011-08-04 with No-miss Omake! YouTube video (scroll down)

My love for CAVE and all of their excellent shooting games was originally brought on by Ketsui, but that wasn’t an affordable title at the time, so instead I started to play ESPGALUDA. And more importantly, I started to play it for score and not only for survival. The latter way was how I’ve always played shmups, as this most of the time was how you got a high score in the shmup titles from the 80’s that I grew up playing. Take Twin Cobra for instance, where your sole purpose in the game is to survive each stage without dying, as you get a stage clear bonus consisting of all the bonus icons you pick up. Of course survival is important in CAVE games as well, but unless you play daringly during each stage and keep away from using bombs your score will take a rather big hit.


I actually played ESPGALUDA II (PCB version) before ESPGALUDA, but apart from the superb graphics, I never clicked with the rather complex scoring or the very hard game play of the sequel. Years later, after mastering ESPGALUDA, getting a decent score in Ketsui and clearing Mushihimesama Futari Black Label (Original mode, PCB) I tried to reconcile with ESPGALUDA II, but alas, it just wasn’t for me. I had a borrowed PCB for a while, but spent very little time trying to fully enjoy it until CAVE announced it for the XBox 360 and started to show us the game play videos of the Black Label and the Arrange Mode. The graphics were even better looking, the soundtrack that I’d had quite a hard time enjoying was remixed into perfection and most importantly, the game itself had been made much more accessible.

In addition to the two brand new modes (Black Label and Arrange) exclusive to the 360, you get a version of the original arcade title that has upgraded graphics in high definition along with the Arcade mode using the original low res graphics, and a terrific unlock-able bonus mode, called OMAKE! that you’re awarded by clearing one of the other modes. As CAVE really try to make the home ports accessible even for non-hardcore players, they include Novice versions of the game modes that most people can just pick up and play.

My favourite mode in this package has been OMAKE! since I unlocked it because it reminded me very much of the first ESPGALUDA, so it was an easy choice for me to put time into, but also because the constant stream of home ports hasn’t left me with time to enjoy the whole package. 😀 If you’ve bought this release but feel it didn’t live up to the expectations you’ve had by enjoying ESPGALUDA on the PS2, in MAME or in the PCB format, I recommend you clear one of the novice modes so you can play OMAKE! You can’t find much info on OMAKE! unfortunately, so I’m going to write down what I’ve learnt so far.

Like ESPGALUDA, you can enjoy OMAKE! by playing it casually or to reap in the highest score possible. It’s scoring system is quite easy to understand, but there are some aspects of it that will give the experts a huge advantage. I’ve put quite a lot of time into this mode, but I still haven’t figured out what to do when the gems’ and golden ingots’ counters are maxed out. My understanding of OMAKE! so far is this:

The basics

1. OMAKE! only uses three buttons;  Shot/Laser = A | Kakusei on/off & Barrier off = BShot full auto = C. Instead of having the BARRIER on a fourth button, getting hit by an enemy bullet will turn it ON for you. However, the B-button can turn it OFF if you want to. When the barrier gets activated, the barrier meter will take a hit as will your gold ingot counter if it along with the GEM counter is  maxed out. OMAKE! has changed the way the Kakusei works a bit, so all RED bullets will automatically be cancelled when you enter or leave Kakusei. This is handy when you’re in a tough spot with no enemies to blow up.

2. As you get close to the enemy fire, their bullets will change colour into RED. Now pop an enemy and not only that enemy you just killed will turn into GEMS, but the RED bullets as well = profit.

3. Your GEM counter reaches max (quite quick if you cancel enough RED bullets by standing close to them while blowing stuff up) and you are instead given golden ingots.

4. At the top middle of the screen there’s a huge counter unique to OMAKE! that increases for every bullet you cancel as well as for every enemy you kill. When the ingot and the gem counters are at max, each enemy killed give you the current value of this center counter when you kill them. Whenever you use the Kakusei during stages, this counter will go down, so unlike how we are used to handle the Kakusei for scoring, it seems to me that short periods only during bosses are good (the boss fights counts down the center counter anyway). The middle counter will max out at 99.999 (I’ve only pulled this off at the last stage once or twice).

5. To raise the middle counter quick and easy, you can eat a bullet then stand on top of an enemy (huge enemy pumping out bullets fast preferably) and the counter will start to roll quite fast. A good spot I always use is the third stage mid-boss’ second form. As the first form explodes, dodge the first pattern it shoots at you without firing at it, then get on top of it and try to move along with it’s patterns as to soak up all those bullets. In a few seconds the counter should go up by a couple of thousand. When the barrier runs out of juice, or you hit B to turn it off, your gold counter (if at max) will go down to 0 and your barrier meter will be filled back up. Make sure to only get hit when there’s an opportunity to fully use it to your advantage, or your score will take a hit. Use your Kakusei to keep from getting hit when stuff get intense.

6. When your gems and gold are maxed out, you will see four green ”corners” around your character and the Zessikhai chime will sound. I don’t fully understand what this means though. I’ve tried to hold down the B-button to see if I can get past the regular Kakusei mode somehow, but it doesn’t work like that. If I get into the mood of playing this again I’ll investigate further. Perhaps it’s as easy as just firing at the bullets instead of the enemies while being in Kakusei? If you know what’s what, please leave a comment here. 😀

Update: I bought a Flip video recorder and recorded my Omake! 1.2 billion score (720p recommended):

There are surely lots of other tricks hidden in the system (this is why CAVE games are the best right now) to find, but these basics should give you some rather easy stuff to try to get more out of the game. OMAKE! is a very easy mode when played casually without taking any risks, but to get much more enjoyment out of it, go for score!

This is the first write-up of my 360 games so far, and I will publish one for all of my other ones as well as I have time.

omake! är ett gömt ”gratis”-läge (Omake betyder typ extra, eller gratis). Detta läget använder bara två knappar, skott och Kakusei (förutom full auto på C då såklart). När skotten från fienden kommer nära dig så blir de röda, och om du då skjuter en fiende så förvandlas skotten till gröna kristaller och så småningom guld (när du har 500 kristaller). Du har inte den vanliga bomben, utan har auto-barrier (som du dock kan ”stoppa” med Kakusei-knappen) istället när du blir träffad endast. Du kan också använda Kakusei för att ”ta bort” kulor i din närhet genom att växla till eller ifrån. Detta är löljigt enkelt läge om man bara spelar för att överleva, men det svåra är att få mycket poäng, vilket är hela tjusningen med det.

Man skall alltså omvandla de röda skotten hela tiden, vilket betyder att man måste släppa dem inpå sig vilket innebär ett element av fara. Din barrier går ju ner när du blir träffad, och om den tar slut så är du död. Men varje gång ditt guld går upp till 1000 så fylls barrier-mätaren på. Längst upp i bilden så har man en räknare som maxar ut på 99.999. Denna nollställs för varje bana, och motsvarar alla kulor man omvandlat per bana. Jag har haft den uppe på 92 eller 94 tusen som max strax före allra sista bossen. Vilket innebär lika många poäng för varje fiende jag skjuter ner.

För att få mätaren att rusa iväg så kan man använda barrier (låta sig träffas med vilje) och ställa sig på en boss som man vet sprutar ur sig mycket skott. I omake! så verkar nämligen inte själva barriern ha ihjäl fienderna, utan bara lasern som skickas iväg när den laddat färdigt, så man kan mjölka bossar och mini-bossar ganska bra innan de kroknar.


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