Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
We spend our whole life dodging things: snowballs, bills, that clingy ex, responsibilities, traffic. But how good are you at actually dodging things? Well, Mushihimesama is certainly the test to grade you on that. From the developer Cave, one of the forefront developers of the bullet hell scene, hopefully this means we’ll be getting more Cave releases here in the West.
Mushihime tells the story of a young girl riding a giant golden beetle. The background for Mushihime is a world that is inhabited by large insects called Koju that reside in forests. Unfortunately these insects produce an essence that is harmful to humans. The young girl Reco travels into the forest riding her giant golden beetle in order to meet the “god of the Koju” in order to keep them from harming her people. Fun fact, that storyline is provided really horribly in the game, and any text that is displayed has a dwell time so short you’d have to see it about five times before you can actually read the whole thing. But let’s be honest, you aren’t really here for storyline, you’re here to cry…err, dodge bullets…
For thoses unaware of the bullet hell genre, it basically involves you, as the character, trying not to get obliterated by the most neon coloured death you’re likely to experience. Your character, thankfully, has an incredibly small hit zone, signified by a small glowing orb. You shoot down your bug opponents, collect shot and formation upgrades, use bombs to clear enemies and bullets, as well as damaging bosses. Shots will come in as neon purple orbs that will kill you in one shot if they hit. You have a default of three lives to start off, but don’t worry, as you can continue when you run out.
Mushihimesama has a number of game modes, game types, and difficulties.The games modes consist of the standard story mode, training mode, and score attack. Training mode allows you to pick and play a stage to get some practice in, whereas the score attack mode tasks you with getting as high a score as you can and competing with your friends. When selecting a game mode, you can choose a type: novice, original, arrange, and version 1.5. Each mode has their own differences, such as allowing you to start at max power, but enemies attack more often, or new attack patterns. After selecting a game mode and game type, you can now select your dificulty. There’s original, maniac, and ultra. Original is basic difficulty, maniac is filled with bullets, and ultra is for those who want to cry forever.
I’d like to point out at this point that Mushihimesama is tough. Like, really super tough. That being said, it’s also really new user friendly. On the easiest settings, Mushihimesama is actually fairly simple. Well, comparatively speaking. I only had to use one continue to get through, and part of the reason for that was because I was trying to take pictures. That being said, it’s by no means easy. Now, by comparison we have Ultra mode. Especially if you choose the max firepower option which increases the attack rate of enemies? Hoo boy, that’s a surefire way to make you regret your life choices. Heck, the game even gives you a warning to make sure you want to proceed.
Mushihimesama is actually a really great title for both veterans and new players to get into. While it doesn’t offer a lot in terms of uniqueness in gameplay variation or anything like that, but what it does have is a very nice visual and bug themed gameplay. Enemies are all variations of giant insects or plants, and you ride a giant beetle. Furthermore, the soundtrack is nice and the graphics aren’t little pixelated objects that you can’t wholly discern. In addition to that, the Switch version comes with a handy feature where you can choose what orientation the screen is in. While the “vertical” option isn’t bad, even in handheld mode, the “horizontal” may give you the space you’re looking for on your screen if you still want to remain in handheld mode.
Overall, Mushihimesama is a great title for both new players and veteran players alike. There’s plenty of difficulty and challenge for the veterans, especially with Ultra mode, yet it’s easy enough to get new players into with the combination of novice mode and infinite continues available. While the goal may be to complete the game without using a continue, you still get the full stage experience even if you can’t manage it.
The game is smooth, and even though the plotline is a little absent, it probably isn’t what you’re interested in anyway. Fans of the bullet hell genre will definitely want to add this title to their library. For newer players it’s also a great introduction to the genre without putting them off too much. While the genre itself is a little niche, there’s a reason Cave is a household name amongst those who enjoy bullet hells of all types, and they certainly don’t disappoint here.Score: 9 / 10