The fourteenth game in the popular Touhou danmaku shoot ’em up series, Double Dealing Character, is also the first one to receive an official release outside of Japan, through Playism, an indie game distribution platform that focuses on Japanese indie titles. This is also the first Touhou game to get released as a downloadable title – the series is usually released on CD at Tokyo’s Comic Market. “Comiket”, as it’s more commonly known, is the world’s largest convention for doujin works.
The scoring system in DDC is based around the “POC” (point of collection), an invisible line near the top of the screen that appears in all of the modern Touhou games. By crossing this line, any point items dropped by enemies will be sucked in by the player. In DDC, this leads to higher scores as well as bonus items that can grant bombs or extends.
The simple, “back to basics” scoring system and digital download make DDC a decent enough introduction to the Touhou series, although it should be noted that this is not a localized port, just a convenient way to purchase and play the original Japanese game that was released at Comiket in 2013. However, this wiki explains the basic mechanics and screen layout. A three-level demo is also available to try out before purchasing.
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.
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Pocket Fleet is a MMO space arena shooter with different modes of play and a growing, global community. It is the latest release from Overdose Caffeine: a Turkish group of developers focusing on mobile and browser based games.
Edit: One of the developers wanted to point out that Pocket Fleet is also on Kongregate.
This is a trailer for an upcoming horizontal shoot ’em up called Heaven Variant, by the three-man team at Zanrai Interactive. Zanrai has made it clear on their FAQ that the game will not be bullet hell, but nonetheless aims to appease both hardcore and casual players. It currently has no release date.
Note: this video was released in February, and since then the developers have made some changes to the basic game mechanics, including dropping mouse control for precise 360-degree aiming. In the latest trailer you can see that weapons now lock to a few set angles:
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:
Booting up Bloodlands, you’re met with a warning screen that indicates the level of action the title is aiming for – the screen that greets you is a tribute to Cave’s famous shoot ’em up DonPachi. It’s a tall order for any game, but especially one that’s made in the ANSI-based game creation tool Megazeux! But Maxim, who developed Bloodlands over the course of two years, has managed to squeeze a lot out of the aging engine, offering some pretty intense “dual stick” arena shooting with a full complement of cutscenes and special effects.
Classic 80’s arcade games like Galaga and Centipede were the inspiration for Verminest, the latest release from the prolific Spanish developer Locomalito. The game features a simple scoring system that offers bonuses for killing enemies up close or taking out wave leaders early on. Large bosses and scrolling sections are also welcome additions to the Galaga formula.
The original release in February was black and white (with an optional “3d mode” for viewing with 3d glasses), but recently Locomalito put up a colored version called Verminest ’83 (pictured above). The gameplay remains exactly the same as before.
Also, now you can receive boxed versions of the Locomalito games for donating over a certain amount (~30 euros for each game or ~90 euros for all five). It’s not clear from the website whether the boxes include a printed version of the games’ PDF instruction manuals, however.
TIGdb: Entry for Verminest
Hyper Princess Pitch, the latest game from Daniel Remar (Hero Core, Iji), is a top-down arena shoot ’em up. A remake of Beaucomm Interactive’s Operation Carnage (DOS, 1996), Pitch seems like it plays more like the faster-paced Smash TV (Arcade, 1990), with lots of enemies streaming in quickly from the walls and sides of the screen. It’s quite short, having only 4 stages, and an average player shouldn’t have too much trouble completing it on the medium difficulty settings. However, the highest difficulty setting is no joke, as the bullets are much more prodigious and the bosses are given an extra attack pattern after they would normally die. You also only start with one extra life.
The scoring system is quite simple: playing at higher difficulty settings grants you a bigger score multiplier. By completing a level you not only get an extra life, but you also get bonuses for each room that you beat without taking damage. It’s worth noting that enemies do drop pickups randomly in this game, making luck a factor in scoring.
Pitch is set in the same world as Garden Gnome Carnage, and as such, it’s very light-hearted. The main character, the princess, fights an assortment of Christmas-themed baddies, from elves to ornaments. As for her arsenal, she has piledriver special attacks (see screenshot), uses black cats as options, and holsters two versatile secondary weapons: an ice shot that destroys yellow bullets and a bouncy rainbow shot.
Fans of Remar know he puts out fun games – this one is no exception. Happy Holidays!