In what is hopefully part of a continuing trend, Crimzon Clover has been released on Steam as Crimzon Clover WORLD IGNITION, giving PC players around the globe easy access to one of the best doujin bullet hell shoot ‘em ups. Originally released in 2011 at Comiket 79, the game was largely created by one person: Yotsubane, also known as the Cave superplayer Clover-TAC. From there, its popularity led to an enhanced edition on Taito’s NESiCAxLive, a digital download platform for Japanese arcades, followed by this recent port to Steam.
In Crimzon Clover you have two main attacks, a rapid-fire shot that fires straight ahead and a lock-on shot that creates a quickly-expanding circle around your ship, targeting every enemy it touches for a powerful homing laser attack. On top of that, there is a third button, called the Break Button, which does different things depending on the status of the Break Gauge. Destroying enemies fills up the gauge and if it’s filled above a certain threshold, hitting the button fires a bomb that clears bullets. If the gauge is completely full, however, you enter a “Break Mode” where your firepower and scoring ability are increased dramatically for a limited amount of time. During Break Mode it’s also possible to enter a “Double Break Mode” that ups everything (including enemy ferocity) even further, turning the screen into a page from a Magic Eye book.
Fans of Japanese shoot ‘em ups already know about Crimzon Clover and this port, but it’s also a great introductory shmup that is polished and offers a lot of modern conveniences like tutorials and novice modes to help new players get accustomed to the brutal level of difficulty. Plus, the relatively simple, memorization-free scoring system and sheer destructive firepower at hand should be enjoyable for veterans and newcomers alike. If I have one complaint, it’s that the graphics veer toward the garish and it is often hard to find your ship’s tiny yellow hitbox amidst the sludge of bullets, stars, and machinery. But it could be argued that this eye-bleeding quality is part of the game’s appeal. In any case, at $10 on Steam, it’s never been easier to play this previously obscure jewel of the genre.
Jelly no Puzzle is the latest difficult puzzle game from Qrostar. It shares some similarities with his earlier Hanano Puzzle but has enough changes in the gameplay to make it a new challenge. Mainly, the jelly blocks push each other instead of being switchable.
Qrostar is still making tweaks to the game before finalizing it, but I found the current version very playable. The latest improvement-in-progress should help to compensate for colorblindness through adjustments made to the color values. So, if you have something to report or a comment to share with him, you can head over to his diary to post it. That’s also were you can find a link to download alternate versions of levels 38, 39 and 40 that were replaced during development.
This is a video that mashes up quite a few trailers for doujin games that will be available at this year’s Comiket (Comic Market), a Japanese self-published comic book festival (and the largest in the world, with half a million attendees last year). The video was put together by Edelweiss, a doujin game developer that created Ether Vapor and is attending Comiket 82 with a new shoot ‘em up called Astebreed. The festival is taking place this weekend on August 10-12.
Links to each of the games featured in the video are available here on Edelweiss’s website.
Despite (because of?) being a pretty dense and esoteric doujin bullet hell shoot ‘em up, Hellsinker has enjoyed a cult success over the years. But now that an English translation patch has been finished, perhaps more people can enjoy its unique flavor of shooting. Thanks to Noah! from the forums for posting enthusiastically about it a few months ago.
Like most shoot ‘em ups, the goal of the game is to advance through the stages and earn a high score (called “spirit” in HS). However, Hellsinker also has a unique meter called “terra” that can deplete to send you to the Shrine of Farewell, a special boss rush level that resets your spirit counter but can end up doubling it if you’re good enough. There are many other quirks to the game, and the numerous ship types ensure that there’s a lot to understand here, whether you’re playing it in your native language or not.
Beyond that, if you’re interested in learning more about Hellsinker, you’re probably best off exploring it yourself or looking through the various guides that I’ve posted below along with the download/purchase links:
Shadow Break (direct download) is fun freeware action game with a unique take on Breakout – ninjas and other opponents are trapped in the blocks and can be released to the ground to slay with your sword. Aside from slashing and jumping, your character also has an invincible dash and ninjitsu techniques that let you, for example, freeze the ball in place. After defeating all the enemies in a level, the remaining blocks are converted to coins.
Quite a polished little Japanese indie title. I like the variety in the enemies and bosses.
(Source: Free Indie Games)
TIGdb: Entry for Shadow Break
A group of teenagers enter an abandoned mansion on the outskirts of town to see if it’s haunted… an unimaginative set up for a horror tale, but thankfully it’s not indicative of the rest of the game. Released in 2009 by the Japanese developer noprops, Ao Oni has since gained a cult reputation for its inventive scares and challenging puzzles. Given that it’s made in RPGMaker XP, the game’s not Amnesia-levels of scary, but it squeezes a lot out of the aging engine to provide a suitably creepy backdrop for the puzzle-solving.
Everything you need to play Ao Oni is available at its homepage, including the RPGMaker XP runtime. There are Japanese, English, and Italian language editions of the game – just download your preferred translation, unzip, and run (after installing the runtime, of course). Keep in mind that different versions of Ao Oni vary greatly in terms of plot and design… older versions are available from other websites if you’re interested (but beware of spoilers).
TIGdb: Entry for Ao Oni
Hydra Castle Labyrinth is a nice Galious-like by E. Hashimoto (aka “Buster”), who also made Akuji the Demon. The game was released last year and has been fully translated into English by Gary the Krampus.
Tatsunami’s Hanano Puzzle is well designed and difficult. It reminds me of Sokoban but with significant differences: switching block positions, complications brought on by color requirements and gravity. It’s a challenging game I’ve found both enjoyable and frustrating.
The in-game instructions (selectable between English and Japanese) are to the point and explain the basics of how to get the colored blocks to touch their corresponding flowers to complete its 50 levels. Some early levels are also both basic and varied enough to teach new concepts without using any clues or hints to hold your hand.
Some have wondered, in the TIGForums’ Feedback, why the difficulty can go a bit up and down between some levels. Tatsunami, however, explained it as a design choice to “stimulate the player’s motivation.” What do you think?
HACK9 by wahiko is a relatively old Cave Story inspired platformer that is more difficult than it should be. I liked the basic gameplay and the variety of music, but grinding shouldn’t be a core requirement for getting through a Metroidvania. Additionally, there is so much Japanese dialogue in the game that it’s easy for players of other first languages to not know what to do next.
For months it sat ignored on my hard drive after I gave up on exploring the game’s world, since I couldn’t unlock any areas beyond the default availability. However, one dedicated player (nintendofan100) made a video walkthrough, with aid of some helpful comments on the Indiegames.com Blog post on HACK9, which has made the game much more accessible and has allowed me to appreciate the game more.
The video at the top, however, isn’t part of the walkthrough linked before but was chosen to present how confusing the game’s language and design barriers can be and because it contains the game’s audio (unlike the walkthrough).
Okay, here’s a game Tim W. deemed “too violent and insensitive” for the Indie Games Blog. So it’s just PERFECT for here!
From what I gather Final Breaker is a game about chopping up a dance troupe with an exploding knife in a cardboard box factory. At first I was surprised to see something so violent and angsty come out of Japan, but then I remembered what Japan was. (Exploding Knife Sim is a thriving sub-genre over there. I swear, look it up.)
Unfortunately, The game’s link now points to a page I’m guessing says something like “obviously we had to take this down” in Japanese. So you’ll just have to keep that anger pent up inside for now, ’cause that’s healthier than playing violent video games, read the studies.
UPDATE: Forum gentleman “Painting” was kind enough to upload the game to his Box.net — you can play it here. Spoiler Alert: It is not very good! Tim W. also updated the YouTube page with more information, but it’s nothing scandalous, I’m afraid.