Mushihimesama

released on Nov 19, 2004

Mushihimesama is a manic shooter developed by Cave and released by Taito in 2004. It was ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2005 and iOS in 2011. An Xbox 360 port was released in May 2012 (with ver1.5 as first print DLC). A significantly changed "version 1.5" was released to arcades in 2011. The game has an insect theme as all of the enemies resemble various insects such as beetles and butterflies. The game is set in various forest environments. It received a sequel in 2006, known as Mushihimesama Futari, and a spin-off iOS game entitled Mushihimesama Bug Panic.


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Between Ikrauga's color system, R-Type's force pod, G-Darius' capture ball, the Rayforce Shot, et cetera, developers in this genre are tripping over themselves to differentiate their titles mechanically in ways that range from ingenious to gimmicky.
Cave has a different approach. There is practically nothing in this game but shooting, dodging, and bombs, but the fundamentals in this game are so balanced, and so satisfying, and so well-engineered that it's like eating at a Michelin star restaurant that only serves bread and butter.

As for Maniac mode, the mode I have the most experience in, this game has an excellent flow and difficulty all around. A treasure of sorts from Cave, and an instant classic for its presentation alone.

Let me just say this.....this game has a wonderful OST same for it's sequels futari. CAVE Games Almost ALWAYS have great OSTS.

I'm not a shmup guy. I would love to be able to discuss the merits of something like Mushihimesama's input lag and hitboxes or its Arrange mode's scoring mechanics, but the truth is I do not have the experience required with the bullet hell genre to perceive it as more than just playing the same game over and over again with different coats of paint.
Which ultimately ends up working in my favor, considering all it has to do to make me flinch and move away from the screen like a little giddy kid is vomit an absurd amount of colorful and vibrant impossible to dodge bullets while cheerful and bombastic electronica tracks play in the background. And what a beautiful coat of paint Mushihimesama's bug aesthetic is.
What I love about bullet hell games in general is their ability to, in a span of mere seconds, demonstrate the limitless potential of perserverance, finding skill where you previously thought to be inaccessible as you decode the bullet patterns and your ship simply becomes an extention of your peripheral vision, emptying your head from the needless noise, only to have that burst of primal inspiration shattered by the crushing reality of human fallibility, as consciousness suddenly returns to your body and your eyes glaze over the screen just in time to witness your naive ship lost in a sea of pink little mistakes.
But Mushihimesama so wants you to succeed. Might be hard to at first believe that, but beyond practice mode, the unlimited continues, or the plethora of difficulty and mode options available that let you fine tune the level of masochism you are willing to put yourself up to, Mushihimesama's hitboxes are so generous and its walls of bullets so quick to reveal openings from where to pull hail marys off that it's hard not to get suckered in into thinking that Mushihimesama is something you can conquer. It's the illusion that counts, anyways.
PS: It gets an extra half a star because I've learned that the True Final Boss is so notoriously bullshit that it requires you to glitch out the game to be able to beat it. That's just badass.