Guwange - Atlus / Cave


Reviewed by Simon [Felix the Cat]

Manic shmups have really come into their own the past few years, with the likes of Cave, Takumi and Psikyo jumping on the 'screen-filling' shmup bandwagon. Cave, especially, seems to be a major player in the manic shmup market, with the likes of Dodonpachi, ESP Ra.De and Dangun Feveron setting shmup gamer's pockets ablaze in the arcades. Guwange continues this tradition of manicness with great style.

The game itself is set in the era of Feudal Japan, and demons are running amok, causing havoc and chaos. You are one of three guardians charged with destroying the centre of the demonic hordes, and you have the special ability to call upon a spiritual guardian in times of need (more on that little gameplay aspect later).

Yes, as usual, you can select from three different characters - a kabuki demon, a mystical archer and a bandit assassin. Each character has their own spiritual guardian - the demon has a demon (surprise), the archer calls upon a fox spirit, and the bandit has a tengu spirit.

They all have their own respective attacks too, for example, the archer has arrows, the demon fires daggers and the assassin throws knives. Attack-wise, they all fire waves of shots forward, their attacks not really differing much. They all have the same bomb which can be thrown forward, or if the bomb button is held down, can be swung around the screen, even destroying enemies behing you. The main feature of your arsenal however, and the main gameplay exponent, is the guardian spirits.

Holding down the fire button will half your forward firepower and call upon your respective guardian which can be controlled around the screen using the control stick. Like most super-powers, the spirit is indestructable, and can even slow down enemy shots! Using the spirit to destroy enemies and slowing down bullets can be beneficial, as if you destroy an enemy with the guardian spirit, the spirit radiates a red glow, and any enemy bullets caught in the glow will instantly be turned into coins and automatically collected. You can get mucho moolah using this technique, but be careful! Using the spirit drops your firing power, and slows down your movement.

the graphics and sound really reinforce the feeling that you're in Japan, hunting evil demons and collecting money. However, graphics wise, since your main character isn't flying about, you can now bump into the scenery and get obstructed by the local landscape. For example, in level two, there is a river you have to cross, and the bridge is the only way over. However, it is patrolled by a vicious gang of guards, and a boat which fires a nasty spreadshot at you. You obviously can't go into the river, so the bridge is your crossing point. In other levels, you can bump into (and get obstructed by) the buildings, walls and cliffs in the scenery. It is hard to work out where you're going at times...

The game itself is fantastic. It is typical Cave / Atlus output, and the residue from the likes of ESP Ra.De is apparent in the graphical and gameplay design. Although there are some small problems in the gameplay design (scenery obstruction mainly) Guwange really is recommended to those who like a challenge.

We're going all boss gauntlet this time, so we don't spoil the levels for you!

Page One
Bosses 1 to 5. Prepare for a fight!

Page Two:
Check out all the crap that goes on in the Demon Realm...
<< Just like other Cave shmups, the character select screen is gorgeous. Choose from three different characters, complete with their personal guardian spirits, and find your destiny!
(© Cheesy Captions 2K)


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