Perhaps, Espgaluda II: Black Label Will Be More Accessible Than Other Cave Shooters

By Spencer . December 23, 2009 . 2:12pm


Cave shooters live in their own world. Floods after flood of flashing bullets intimidate newcomers, but maybe casual shooter fans will be able to get into Espgaluda II: Black Label.


Espgaluda II: Black Label has a tutorial mode with lessons that explain how to play the game. Unfortunately, the notes, unlike the game’s menus, are in in Japanese.




The game also has a novice mode. While readers here may not utilize these modes, these are key features. Additions that make Espgaluda II more accessible and enjoyable to new players are attempts to broaden the shmup niche. And a wider audience means more Cave games. Espgaluda II: Black Label still has regular difficulty modes for Cave fans.



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  • thaKingRocka

    if they want to charge me 15 on top of the 70 for this black label edition, too, then my support of region-free shooters may come to an abrupt halt.

    • No, this “Black Label” is actually included with the retail game…and it’s much more of a reworking than Futari’s Black Label. I can’t bring myself to pay the extra $15 for the latter, either. Not now, anyway.

      There have been hints of some other mode for ESPGaluda 2 which will probably be DLC, though. No real news on it whatsoever; they may not have even started development yet.

      • Aoshi00

        I got the Black Label for Mushihime-sama Futari but still not really sure what it added other than God Mode and some different way of scoring.. I was thinking it would have an extra stage like Death Smiles. Seems like one needs to get to the end of the god mode in order to face the true final Larsa, there’s no way I can do that :(…

        I admit, nickel and diming us w/ blk label is a bitch. Thing is 1200 on the Jpn marketplace isn’t really $15. I got that 3500 MS point card for like $60, so it’s way more than that. I seem to have no problem shelling out for these things though, maybe I just look at shmups from a different perspective now.. I got the LE for Futari, and hopefully be able to get the LE for this faceplate too, since I like to collect 360 faceplates.

        • Oof, I hope you didn’t use that JP card for Futari BL. It’s on the US marketplace so you could have saved your expensive JP points… :(But yeah, to grossly simplify it BL is like Futari on steroids. More amber/gold crystals, more bullets, higher multipliers/counters, stronger characters, etc. And all this means more slowdown which makes the game easier to clear for newbies…but to score you have to play REALLY aggressively.BL just seems really crazy and too much to me, kind of like Arrange mode which I don’t like much. So I don’t miss it. Maybe if I get tired of all the stuff that’s already there I’ll buy it, but I’m still working on an Original Mode 1CC (haven’t turned on my 360 in days though, haha) and then probably a 1.01 Original 1CC. That will take a while!You have to beat God Mode without dying to see Spiritual Larsa, btw. Total madness!

          • Aoshi00

            Yikes!! I had no idea it was on US marketplace, I know it’s region free but I never bothered to check the US side since it’s supposed to be a Jpn game.. I should’ve known since I was able to download 1.01 w/o signing onto the Jpn mktplace.. my precious Jpn MS points *sob*… and this isn’t even that good of a BL.. yeah, w/o dying once, that means I will never be able to reach Spiritual Larsa. Yes, it did have major slowdown, it even freezes for a split second sometimes when things get out of control, though like you said it’s easier to dodge things, I was hoping Cave would patch the annoying problem..

          • Ah, the split-second freezing IS actually a bug. It unfortunately affects all game modes even if you haven’t seen it outside of BL yet; if you get really annoyed by it you can delete BL and the problem will go away.

            They’re aware of it, so a patch has got to be coming…

          • thaKingRocka

            i love shooters to death, but i know my skill limitations. even if i wanted to, i doubt i could ever 1CC most shooters. trying to 1CC a game has never been a point of interest as it takes most of the fun out of it for me. i find original to be overwhelming at times. i can’t imagine how much memorization and trial and error would go into 1CCing maniac or ultra, and if i were to memorize the game rather than play with my reflexes, i simply wouldn’t enjoy it. i must be one of the only shooter fan who believes the fun is in not knowing what’s coming at you.

          • But you play fighting games, which are way harder than shooters! I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit.

            I’m pretty casual (I’ve never 1CC’d anything!) but I wouldn’t say Original mode requires memorization. I can’t speak for Maniac or Ultra but Original has rank, so if you memorize a strategy and do better, you’ll be caught off-guard when the game speeds things up. My poor reflexes are exactly the problem; I can’t keep up with it by about Stage 4… :’)

      • thaKingRocka

        whew, thanks. what was once a welcome aspect of modern gaming has become my most hated aspect as a consumer. there was no reason to push mushi out the door. they could have waited a while longer and put BL on the disc. i appreciate the heads-up on espgaluda, but if they put the definitive version up later on as a separate 15 dollar download, i will never play the definitive version, and go back to playing dodonpachi on mame, ruining my chances of enjoying cave’s shooters on consoles in the future. it’s hard to accept that they are so on the ball with realizing that region-locking is crap, but so out of it when it comes to the consumer’s perception of value.

        • Well, you read my comment to Aoshi, so you know I seriously disagree with your implication that Black Label is the definitive version of the game. Honestly, if BL was intended to supercede 1.5…it would have been called Futari 2.0 and received a print run larger than (IIRC) 150 PCBs. It’s just…a different experience.

          I can understand your distaste, but letting non-essential DLC ruin the rest of the content seems like a waste. BL IS a quick cash-in*, but it’s at least meatier than, say…Capcom’s SFIV costume pack, which is the same price. That didn’t make you consider going back to the CPS2 releases for good, did it?

          I’m not trying to defend Cave much, though. They seem to be changing a little, but they are not “on the ball” when it comes to consumer-friendliness…yet. For one, Galuda 2 is not confirmed as region free. We’re all crossing our fingers, but in that Kotaku article Asada said they would consider localization…which makes it sound like they’re going right back to locking and hoping a foreign pub will pay the price.
          I’m trying to be hopeful; if weird super-niche stuff like Agarest can get a retail 360 release, maybe we’ll get lucky…even if PAL regions are still screwed.

          * The BL port has such severe inaccuracies at key points that even the high score thread at shmupsforum is facing a 360/PCB split, btw. It definitely received less work than the rest of the game.

          • thaKingRocka

            that’s a lot of food for thought. i am very happy with dodonpachi and guwange on emulator, but i want so badly to legitimately support a genre that’s been on life-support here in america for ages now. it just hurts to spend 70 despite having never played mushihimesama, only to find out that i’d been denied the DLC coupon and that an extra 15 bucks would be needed to get hold of it. i can’t believe there were so few pcbs! that’s insane.

            you’re right, though. while i have a very negative reaction, and the consumer advocate in me is screaming for retribution, the true gamer in me is still happy to have this game, especially in legitimate form.

            oh, and capcom needed a serious beating for that costume pack approach. as much as i liked those costumes, there was no way i could be convinced to spend any more than 1 dollar for extra costumes. i wish the public had entirely ignored that DLC (along with so many others). sometimes, it seems it’s at least as hard to get people to refrain from spending as it is to get them to do so. gamers have got to understand how their wallet speaks much more loudly than forum rumblings. you can’t just pay lip service, praising games like ico and okami. you have to buy them. you can’t just complain endlessly about the money spent on DLC, you have to refuse to buy DLC.

            btw, ssf2t cps2 remains my favorite, but it has nothing do with capcom’s modern business practices. i just plain love it. it’s so unforgiving by modern standards, but i don’t mind.

  • One of these days I’ll buy a 360…one of these days…And when I do I’m going to be spending 100s of dollars on the shooters.

    • thaKingRocka

      you can start small with the XBLA titles. you’ve got trigger heart excelica, omega five, and the big bad ikaruga. those are about 10 bucks a piece and ikaruga could keep you busy for a year. i loved omega five. you don’t hear much talk of it, but i thought it was a great game.

  • malek86

    We still don’t know anything about region locking… hopefully it won’t be long before they speak up.

    • This is exactly what I’m thinking myself. I’m hoping MushiFutari sold well, because I really liked ESPgaluda I, and I’d like to be able to play the second game.

  • Advent_Andaryu

    That’s crazy I’ve never heard them called ‘Cave Shooters’. I think ‘Vertical Shooter’ is more accurate, but hey, that’s just me.

    • pedrron

      I think they call them Cave shooters cause the developer is Cave. That and they are brutally difficult, or so i’ve heard.

      • Advent_Andaryu

        Ahhh I see now. Kinda of a crazy name for a Japanese gaming company no? Well, I love vertical shooters so I’d probably like this one.

        I hate how rare they are though. I mean check this out, a new copy of Trigger Heart Exelica is like $100! You would think since these kind of shooters are hard to come buy (in the industry), they would make a lot of them to increase profits.

        • pedrron

          If you don’t already have it you should def pick up Raiden Fighter Aces for the 360. $20 bucks and 3 great games in 1! I’ve never tried a Cave shump since they look extremely difficult. Trigger Heart Exelica is also on Xbox live aracade right? I was gonna buy it but chose Ikagura instead. Man Ikagura is pretty difficult too. I really suck at shumps but still enjoy them. And for that reason I welcome the tutorial mode in Espgaluda, if it ever gets a US release i’ll def check it out.

  • vrakanox

    I’ve got my 5 dollar coupon right here on my desk. Just waiting for them to come out and say if it’s region protected or not. I hope it isn’t this one looks better than the original.

  • neo_firenze

    Of course, Espgaluda II is supposedly a pretty tough game. Tutorials or not, it’s probably a little less accessible gameplay-wise than Cave’s previous two releases (Mushihimesama Futari and Deathsmiles).

    Still, it’s true that the easy modes can help some people learn and ease into bullet hell. The Novice modes in Futari and Espgaluda II, and the ability to choose “Level 1” rank throughout Deathsmiles are certainly nods to beginners.

    That being said, the one thing I hope is that this isn’t taken the wrong way. We have problems already with western gamers and reviewers approaching shooters with “it’s easy and it only took an hour to finish the game” attitudes, and that’s by credit feeding on very difficult games. The same perspective with an even easier mode could certainly spark even more ignorant comments (which are unfortunately often all the mainstream world sees in regards to shooters).

  • Aoshi00

    Very neat. I’m relatively new to the bullet hell genre, been gobbling up every new one that comes out on the 360, and recently enjoying it in a new light w/ the arcade stick (Dodonpachi DOJ is so fun, but the loading sucks). One thing about shmup is sometimes they just don’t tell you the mechanics in each mode, like you’re just in the dark and discover how to chain on your own, like I’m still fuzzy w/ how you to get high scores in Dodonpachi, Deathsmiles, or Mushihime-sama Futari (Shikigami no Shiro 3 is simple, you just get into the enemies’ face), so tutorials are definitely helpful. I like easy modes and infinite continues as well, it lets me improve gradually before moving on to attempt the impossible.

  • ElTopo

    I would totally buy some Cave shooters if they published them on something other then the 360…like the PStriple.

    • thaKingRocka

      i wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see them showing up for the ps3 as well. the playstation platform has been good to them. i’m actually very surprised to see these games showing up on 360 at all, much less, exclusively.

      • ElTopo

        I know, bust right? Maybe like a Cave Anthology, wouldn’t that be nice? One can dream…

        • thaKingRocka

          there’s no precedent of cave compiling their games, and given they charge such high prices for their individual games, i think they’d stay far away from comps. they do put a lot of work into their retail releases, and i worry that if they were to do an anthology, it wouldn’t have all the bells and whistles it should have. success did it well with raiden fighters aces, and i think cave could, but i doubt they would.

          …but dreaming is cool.

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