Aa Mujou Setsuna And The Microscopic Hitbox

By Spencer . September 14, 2009 . 6:45pm

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Left, right, center, left, shoot, left. Memorization is paramount in bullet hell shooters, but that will only get you so far in Aa Mujou Setsuna. Arika’s tiny, but brilliant DSiWare game has a random wave mode that dishes out unpredictable patterns of squids, tadpoles, and barracudas.

 

While enemy ships are named after marine life, none of them resemble sea creatures. You just blast through generic looking 3D mecha. Arika didn’t put a lot of effort into Aa Mujou Setsuna’s presentation, but it’s something I can overlook since random mode is fantastic. I like how Aa Mujou Setsuna forced me to react to an onslaught of bullets rather than remember where they come from.

 

Aa Mujou Setsuna also has an interesting risk/reward relationship. See the red bar? It acts as your bomb and shield meter. When you get hit you automatically fire an explosion that changes all of the bombs into point cubes. Each blast depletes the meter a third. If you’re in the red and get hit, you’re toast. The meter recharges over time, but it refills faster if you collect cubes.

 

image Alternatively, you can manually launch a bomb by pressing Y or A. Why would you want to do that? Time it right you can turn a ton of bullets into precious point cubes. However, if you keep triggering bombs your ship will be in the dangerous red zone, which means one hit and it’s over. Expert players can evade shots and avoid destroying enemies to fill the screen bullets, while novice players can shoot everything in sight (essentially minimizing on screen shots) and rely on the ship’s shield. It’s a well balanced system.

 

Aa Mujou Setsuna even makes the bullet hell genre a bit more approachable since death isn’t as common. Your ship can sort of “fly” through bullets. At first I thought it was a glitch, but it’s not. Your ship just has a really, really small hitbox. You can actually graze those dotted line bullets without taking damage. You’re pretty much fine unless you get hit dead on by a large shot or an enemy ship crashes into you.

 

Since Aa Mujou Setsuna is short and it isn’t as difficult as other bullet hell games you can “blow through” it in ten minutes. However, Aa Mujou Setsuna, like all shooters, are about improving your score. Arika and Nintendo set up online leaderbords so you can see where you stand. Skilled players also have the honor of uploading replay movies, which, in a way, teach players how to beat their score. Aa Mujou Setsuna automatically records your runs too for review purposes or just in case you make it in the top ten.

 

Nintendo hasn’t announced any plans to bring Aa Mujou Setsuna outside of Japan, but all of the game’s menus are in English. All they have to do is change a little bit of text that explains what “game” and “key config” do and Aa Mujou Setsuna will be ready for the West. It’s an easy conversion so keep your fingers crossed shooter fans…


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  • Aoshi00

    Nice review, I can’t seem to find any review on this anywhere. Sounds like a good deal for 500 pts for a fun portable shooter.

    I don’t know if there’s such a thing as too much bullet hell, been playing Death Smiles and Shikigami no Shiro 3 a lot recently. Shikigami 3 is way better on the 360, I don’t know why Aksys only released it on the Wii here. HD graphics in wide screen (the Wii actually only has 4:3 by default and looks stretched out in 16:9, so horizontal mode is even narrower in 4:3), better controller (remote/classic/GC are all horrible and only the d-pad works well) at least w/o an arcade stick, Jpn voice acting compared to the horrible eng. dub, online score board, achievement, etc. Game’s tough as nails though.. Death Smiles is really fun, I wonder if they would ever have the mega blk label DLC on sale, 1200 is just too much, thing is it should’ve been part of the game :(.. bloodsucker.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      Deathsmiles has awesome art direction and pressures players to stay in the middle of the screen. It’s way better than Aa Mujou Setsuna, but for an on the go game — that’s only $5 this is really good too.

      When you get seizures from all of the blinking bullets that’s when you know you’ve had too much bullet hell. ;)

      • Aoshi00

        I think Mushihime-sama Futari would do that job nicely w/ its “purple” bullets, lol..

        I might give Mujou Setsuna a try down the road. Despite being a DSi game, it would be cool if Arika threw in a couple of anime shots, that would make things look a bit more interesting you know.

        It’s funny I switched Deathsmiles to Arcade mode, and I had no idea it was in old school sprites, makes you think what they could do w/ a Sengoku Blade 360 port w/ upgraded graphics. I’m working on t he “no continue” achievement, it’s a pandomonium, the last boss is way too hard on 1 credit.. love the music too, now I kind of regret not getting the LE w/ soundtrack.

  • Trotmeister

    “Left, right, center, left, shoot, left”

    Sounds more like Space Channel 5, actually.

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