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Mushihimesama Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Mushihimesama is Cave at the top of their game. This action-packed shoot-em-up offers stylish visuals, a killer soundtrack and a unique scoring system. It's also filled with some of the year's nastiest insect-inspired bosses. This is a bullet hell shooter that manages to be both fair and forgiving, a rare combination in this style of game. Rating: 78%
Mushihimesama
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
I know we're not supposed to mock other cultures, but the world of Mushihimesama is a little messed up. It's a wild society where giant insects control everything, allowing the lowly humans to live only if they sacrifice a 15 year old girl every 200 years. If this plan sounds ludicrous, then you're not alone. After these massive bugs invade her city, Reco decides to stand up and defeat her oppressors once and for all.

This is the set-up to Mushihimesama, the vertical shoot-em-up from famed developer Cave. You play a teenage girl who uses a golden beetle to fly through the air and shoot down an entire army's worth of nasty insects. The premise may be silly, but it leads to one of the most exciting action games I've played all year.


Before she even has a chance to take on the insect swarm, Reco will need to choose between three different weapons. The idea is to slowly build up these weapons over the course of the adventure, until you are an unstoppable bug-squashing force. The three attacks include a concentrated shot, a spread shot and a balance between the two extremes. No matter which power you choose, every weapon has more than enough firepower to get the job done.

Cave is the master of 2D shoot-em-ups, and Mushihimesama a perfect representation of their skill. The levels are bright and colorful, always overflowing with details and personality. This has a stylized design that makes it stand out from the typical shooter. There's a confidence to the pixel art you rarely see anymore, and I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen. Though, part of that may have something to do with the amount of bullets I'm forced to dodge at any given moment.

The expertise goes beyond the look of the game. Cave tackles a lot of small problems in incredibly clever ways. For example, they know the entire screen will eventually be filled with bullets, so they've marked them in purple. That way, even when the game is at its most chaotic, you always know what to look out for. This doesn't make the game easier, but did keep my eyes from completely glazing over.

Mushihimesama (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Like most old school shoot-em-ups, Mushihimesama is short and intended to be played multiple times. The different weapons and unique scoring system will bring a lot of people back for more, as will the different difficulty settings. This Steam port also offers Version 1.5 as downloadable content, giving players a remixed experience that brightens the color palette and changes some of the rules. Best of all, Reco starts at full power, making you feel like even more of an insect-killing badass.

Even without the downloadable content, there's a lot here just for the fans. There are extra arranged modes designed just for people who have played the arcade mode a thousand times. Best of all, this package allows you to customize the music found in every stage. Between the original, Version 1.5 and arranged, there's a lot of great music to enjoy while taking out the insect horde.

Mushihimesama is one of the many old school shoot-em-ups finding a new home on Steam. Unfortunately, this port suffers from a few technical issues. For whatever reason, I was never able to get this game to behave in full-screen mode. Every time I toyed with the graphics options, it left me with a blank screen. As a result, I was force to play the game in windowed mode, which negatively impacted the performance.

Mushihimesama (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

And then there are the times when the game randomly adds the second player into the mix. Despite only using one game pad, I was able to control both characters for extra damage. While this made it hard to rack up high scores, I found this glitch only made the non-stop action more exciting.

Technical issues aside, Mushihimesama is an enormously entertaining action game with great graphics, a killer soundtrack and massive bosses. It's a bullet hell shoot-em-up that manages to be both fair and forgiving, a rare combination in this style of game. That's not to say this Cave classic is for everybody, but fans of this style of shooter will find a lot to love Mushihimesama. Just beware going into full screen mode.
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