Retro Lets Play (Sep 2021) - Espgaluda

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by nimmers, Aug 31, 2021.

  1. nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    Retro Let's Play: Espgaluda
    Sep 2021.

    To find out what this is and why we're doing it, click here.

    upload_2021-8-31_23-27-17.png

    I really struggled to choose a game this month stuck in my Sydney Covid-19 quarantine hell. I figure that we have had just about everything but we haven't had a proper Japanese "Danmaku" or Bullet Hell style shooter.

    Why Espgaluda?

    This genre can be very rough on the uninitiated. My first exposure to the genre was with Ikaruga and Progear and while these are great games, they aren't fun to start out with. Espgaluda is considered to be one of the easiest games released by the developer Cave who along with companies like Treasure, Raizing and Psikyo (to name a few) are the main pioneers of this genre.

    Espgaluda is a vertical shooter released in 2003 for Arcade and PS2 (It plays perfectly in MAME). It is technically a sequel to the 1988 ESP.Ra.De. This is a good link that describes the scoring and characters much better than I could: https://shmups.wiki/library/Espgaluda

    This is a 4 button game, by default the controls are as per "Type A" below but for those used to other cave games like DoDonPachi, Progear, Ketsui etc you can hold down buttons C and D while hitting the start button and the buttons will switch to "Type B". I'd advise you to take full advantage of the Full Auto button - hold it down most of the time and press and hold the A button to focus fire. Don't tap the A button, you'll hurt yourself :)

    upload_2021-8-31_23-27-17.png

    The TLDR version of how to play by me is this:
    • Killing enemies with normal shot - (Either Fire or Full Auto) gives you green gems which increase your "Kakusei" counter
    • "Kakusei" - think of it as "Bullet Time" basically you press this button to consume the green gems you collect and activate slow bullet mode. When you kill enemies in Kakusei mode you cancel all their bullets and gain huge amounts of score.
    • If your Bullet time runs out you go into a mode called "Overmode" where all the bullets speed up to double and you score more points. Probably don't stay in this mode when you are trying to survive.
    • "Barrier" (the meter at the bottom of the screen) is your trusty bomb but it doesn’t clear screens the way bombs in traditional shmups do. Instead it turns you invincible and lets you absorb bullets - when you let go of the button everything you absorbed gets released back at the enemy for huge damage. While in Kakusei mode barrier activates automatically too, saving your life.


    Why do I like this game?


    I think the scoring system is incredibly elegant. If you want to play for survival you can strategically use your Kakusei mode to avoid difficult patterns and play very conservatively. If you want to go for score, you can use all your Kakusei modes to set up massive cancels and your barriers to clear mid-bosses fast to spawn even more enemies you can score off. You can even stay in Overmode and play on double speed for massive reward along with massive risk.

    It's also nice to look at and listen to, you'll feel like you are at one of those dance parties from ancient history before lockdowns, loneliness and misery.

    I hope some of you will enjoy the game, it's definitely got that "one more credit" quality to it once you figure out the basics.

    Here's a video of my buddy Pearl doing a no death run of it to give you an idea of what high level play looks like:

     
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  2. FIREWIRE1394

    FIREWIRE1394 Member

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    I've heard of this, but never played it. It does look like fun.

    Hopefully I get some time to try out the PS2 version.
     
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  3. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Cracking game choice, nimmers . This and a couple of similar ones were on my list of potentials for one month, so that's taken a load off my plate. :)

    I really urge everyone to play this. I know OCAU is heavily PC / FPS style gaming oriented, but these "danmaku" games are very addictive, and super simple to play. You can invest literally 10 minutes and have yourself a pretty solid gaming experience, not needing 20 minutes of cutscenes and endless walls of dialogue, or hunting for save points, or trying to find other players on line. These are made for busy Japanese office workers to have a quick bash on their lunch break.

    I have the original Japanese PS2 release (came out about the time I was HEAVILY into shmups, and it hadn't yet been emulated and the PCB was way too expensive), which I think now fetches $200+ on eBay (insane).

    But if anyone has any problems tracking this down to play it, please PM me and I'll help (whether you're on PC or have a modded PS2, I can help). Again, I really ask people to give this a go. It's a tiny game in file size and system requirements, can be played in a few minutes, and can be crazy addictive.

    And what a banger of a soundtrack too!

     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
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  4. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Awesomeness!!! I've played this before, though only on compressed side setup. I'll definitely need to obtain another cab in vertical mode. Absolutely love these games. Cheers for the write up.
     
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  5. power

    power Member

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    i have a bad tendency to overlook these (mostly because i'm not great at them) but will endeavour to give this a go. MAME for me.
     
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  6. OP
    OP
    nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    Glad for a few positive reactions. Wasn't sure how this one would go down!

    I put in about a week learning this game and haven't been able to play for a couple of weeks now due to work and life being mental.

    This is my PB so far: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1121929610
    I got to the last boss and didn't know what to do :)

    I'll put in some effort this month to try and improve on this and maybe get a 1 credit clear.
     
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  7. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    As mentioned in the OP, this is one of the easier ones (Mushihime Sama by the same company is another). But you can't just brute force your way through it like you can most modern games.

    I get a bit ruffled when I hear people put "Dark Souls" on a pedestal about it's difficulty, but what they're missing is that games that force you to adapt to their rules, rather than trying to be "intuitive", have existed for a long time. Shmups are very much that.

    It can take a little while for it to "click", but once it does, these are very enjoyable.

    My biggest piece of advice to anyone is: Resist the urge to credit feed! 1 credit every game, and when you die, game over, no continues. Enforce that self control from the beginning, and you'll soon find yourself doing a lot better when every life matters, and the game becomes A LOT more fun.
     
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  8. power

    power Member

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    I actually have pretty good sticks now which I am pretty sure even tho PS3 will work on PC (thanks to HuggyBear :) )that is half the battle if you ask me, if your controls are lacking then you are pushing shit uphill.

    Which begs another question, what controllers will people be playing on? I'm going to be on my gaming PC with the aforementioned sticks if I can.
     
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  9. OP
    OP
    nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    Arcade stick - I prefer one with Seimitsu LS-32 rather than Sanwa JLF for games like this.
     
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  10. power

    power Member

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    haha, yeah i'm not THAT fancy.
     
  11. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Ditto, however I only have JLFs lying around at the moment, so that's what I'll play this on this month.

    Planning on a dedicated shmup cab with LS-32s one day.
     
  12. OP
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    nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    There's not much difference honestly, you notice it when making tiny taps.
     
  13. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    cracking sound track. cave did some weird stuff like dodonpachi arrange mode sound track being different to the standard cab

    i havent played yet, but is the collection thing like in progear ? collect stuff and use it as shield or extra weapons etc
    i still dont have my head wrapped around progear, so to me it seems these games all have a lot of elements drawn from each other ???
     
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  14. OP
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    nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    Sort of similar to Progear but in Espgaluda it's a lot easier to work the system. Progear took me an embarrassingly long time to get my head around.

    Basically in Progear:
    -When you kill an enemy near a bullet the bullets get cancelled and drop stuff.
    -When you use normal shot it drops rings which increase your gem counter, as you increase the gem counter, it goes up through rubies, emeralds etc up to diamonds.
    -When you get to diamonds you want to do a big fat cancel with lock shot to cash in the counter for points. These big cancels are the key to clearing some of the more difficult screens.
    -Then you go back to building meter with normal shot and repeat.

    In Espgaluda
    -When you kill an enemy in normal mode with fire or focus fire you get gems for kakusei mode
    -When switch to kakusei mode it consumes gems and when you kill enemies their bullets are cancelled for points
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
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  15. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    [wipes forehead] phew, that makes me feel better :)
    many thanks for the run down on the differences, that'll help

    wish this was on MiSTer, and i know null object is hammering away on the Cave cores, so it wont be far off.
    time to dust off the MAME pc and see what its got
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
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  16. OP
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    nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    Yup, Espgaluda, DoDonPachi:DoJ and Ketsui are all single board PolyGame Master games. When someone does a PGM core we will get these.
     
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  17. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    According to my benchmarks:
    https://stickfreaks.com/misc/raspberry-pi-mame-benchmarks

    The romset "espgal" will work on a Raspberry Pi 4, but not a Raspberry Pi 3.

    Stock 1.5GHz 32bit will *just* work at 137% native speed average (200% is considered a comfortable buffer for highs and lows). 64bit sees a 12% increase at the same stock clockspeed at 154%.

    64bit + 2.0GHz overclock sees a very comfortable 219%, which is well past my subjective "200% is a-ok" line in the sand.

    Any 2GHz or faster x86_64 machine will blitz this thing no problems (2-5 times faster than an RPi4, clock for clock in MAME, depending on the generation).

    You can get current builds of MAME for RPi4 from the same link above. I try to keep up with official MAME releases, and 0.235 just came out a couple of days ago, and I have binaries uploaded.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
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  18. Grant

    Grant Member

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    I wouldn't say I have the basics down but this was super fun to play as a shmup noob. The bullet patterns in the first two levels encourage you to get better and the half/double speed modes feel great to activate.
     
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  19. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Yup, like Donpanchi, I do get slowdown on some scenes.. more reasons to build another upright vert cab with proper hardware. Really Mc lovin this.
     
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  20. OP
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    nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    The PCB slows down quite a bit too, might me normal!
     
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