Flying 飛翔

by wfgodbold

Castle Shikigami II, the second of three Castle Shikigami arcade games, is probably my favorite shmup.

Shoot-’em-up (shmup) games, the original shooters (before that genre was coopted by FPS games), have come a long ways from the days of Galaga. Castle Shikigami is a member of the sub-genre known as danmaku (弾幕), or bullet-hell (literally, bullet curtain), shooters (other examples include Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, Psyvariar, Espgaluda, Mushihimesama, and DoDonPachi). In these games, the screen is flooded with enemy fire, and in addition to shooting down enemy craft, the player must also maneuver through the cascades of bullets without being hit.

Various games have their gimmicks; in Ikaruga, you can switch the color of your ship from white to black (and back again) to absorb bullets of the same color and deal extra damage to enemies of the opposite color. Espgaluda (and the other Cave shooters) are more traditional, in that you pick up powerups throughout the stages to increase the power of your ship.

Castle Shikigami’s gimmick is different; there are no explicit powerups. Instead, you do more damage (and gain score multipliers (up to 8x!)) when your character is in more danger. Instead of merely dodging the waves of enemies and bullets, savvy players will get as close to them as possible; if you look up gameplay videos on youtube, you can see characters fly close to bullets, following them on their path through the screen.

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