Take The Shmusicup Preview Beta For A Spin

By Ishaan . March 16, 2011 . 1:29pm


Indie developer, Tzai Entertainment, are working on a music-powered shoot-em-up, titled Shmusicup, that’s slated for release this year. Inspired one way or another by other shmups such as Kenta Cho’s rRootage, Team Shanghai Alice’s Touhou Project and Treasure’s Ikaruga, Tzai’s game picks up on the “intensity” of a song and uses it to generate bullet patterns.


The goal is to have the game be able to tell the difference between different genres of music, such as upbeat versus a ballad, or even differences within the same song, like, say, a pop song with a slow verse and an intense chorus.


If you’re curious to try the game out for yourself, Tzai Entertainment now have a browser-based “preview beta” of Shmusicup available on their website. The preview beta is free, but if you want access to the “full beta,” you’ll have to pre-order the game. You can also report any bugs you encounter during your beta experience.


I took the preview beta for a spin prior to writing this post. With Kotoko’s “Re-Sublimity” as my track of choice, I managed to rack up 23,357 points in a single round.

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  • Oh, a Kotoko fan. Nice, nice.

  • malek86

    Uhm… with VS by Misono as my track of choice (a fairly upbeat music), I got 694.955, a perfect run. It’s not very hard, even considering browser lag. In the full version you can increase the difficulty though. I should probably try with Flight of the Bamboo Cutter, from Imperishable Night. That music gave me hell in Audiosurf. I’ll also try a harder boss.

    I’m trying to understand what’s the point of shooting. Either it was a coincidence, or the boss simply dies when the track is over. It’s just for points, i guess?

    As for the bullets generator pattern, it does look like it follows the beats, but it’s not overly apparent.

    • malek86

      Oh cool, I hadn’t noticed that you can increase your multiplier by standing close to the boss. Now I passed over 1.300.000 with VS, on the second boss. It’s a bit harder. It also seems to get more difficult with time. I don’t mind this.

      But… the full game is a standalone executable, right? The browser lag was annoying.

    • Boss dies when track is over? That’s weird, my boss shot some pre-determined pattern after my song ended, but he didn’t die straight away

      • malek86

        Mine did. Three times already. It might just be that your file has a blank for some seconds after the song is over.

        By the way, more than 3 millions on Flight of the Bamboo Cutter. Standing close to the boss really helps. Although the score is obviously inflated by the track’s length.

        I’m really liking this. If it’s not browser based, it’s mine.

        • D: So far, I tried Gravity, Diver and Kuusou Rumba (oh god, that was hell) but the bosses didn’t die and I’m pretty sure I don’t have any blank seconds after the song. I hate it if my song has that. I used Kuusou Rumba for boss 2 and after the song ends, he just went into a frenzy of those white lights.

    • Did you figure out how to use bombs? I tried, but I couldn’t tell if they were doing any damage or not…the blast radius was really small. Do you have to be super close for them to work?

      • malek86

        I don’t know. After playing the older Touhou games for five years (I’m one of the few fans left who’s still interested in the games), I’ve developed a sort of psychological barrier against using bombs. Now I’ll never use them, even when it might actually be the best thing to do. I just can’t bring myself to press that bomb button anymore.

        • Hahahaha. Okay, okay…I’ll try and figure it out myself then!

          • malek86

            Anyway, if the blast radius is very small, they are probably just used to temporarily shield you from enemy fire.

            PS. and like I said before, I don’t think you can actually deal damage anyway. I guess the boss doesn’t die until the song is over… maybe it can last a bit more, but not less.

          • Testsubject909

            Kind of a shame if you ask me… Personally, the boss should have a variable HP that enables it to be killed earlier then the song’s end, though in which case, if he is killed, he should then be replaced by an upgraded version of said boss. At least give the players a sense of progression within the song. If you can’t kill a boss until near the end of a song or at the end of a song to begin with, there’s no real sense other then just racking up points. (Though that’s quite fine for quite a few people).

            That said, I do hope there’s some sort of Marathon or Boss rush mode enabled, where you go through a playlist and have the bosses cycle around with choices of randomizer and repeat for the playlist, as well as other customization options, such as pre-fitting bosses, doing much of the same to the bosses (Randomizer or not, or list the bosses to fight much like in a playlist) and etc.

            There’s a lot that can be done with this game.

          • @Tetsu: Yes, they do have variable HP which depends on the length of the song. I tried using a song sample which lasted for about 5 seconds and the boss died on me even when the game hasn’t started yet.

    • So, I did a bit of experimenting and found out that the boss’s HP decreases over time. Even if you don’t do anything. This explains why the boss didn’t die on me when time was up and died on you when time’s up. I was simply just not being a good enough player to take him down in time ^_^

  • I still like BeatHazard more >_>

  • It’s a cool game. Got 722513 on Aqua Timez – GravityΦ. Hopefully you can move diagonally backwards in the full game. Browser also is very depressing :P Sadly, they don’t take flac :(

    • malek86

      I’m pretty sure you can move diagonally. If you can’t, it might be your keyboard. Some cheap keyboards have trouble when particular combinations of more than two keys are pressed simultaneously.

      • Sorry, just found out I can move diagonally. Only forwards though :P

        • malek86

          Nope, backwards too.

          • Okay, then it’s both my flatmate and my keyboard then… Man, sure wish I could play this on my stick….

  • [The Hunter] Doomrider

    Is this considered “bullet hell”?

    I tried it with Converge’s Dark Horse, but I only got 14395 xD And I died twice. Yeah… Not my kind of game!

  • I’m too busy dodging bullets to notice if the patterns are on beat. Super fun though. Maybe I’ll choose a song with a more apparent beat next time. (I used “Choo Choo” from Arctic Monkeys.)

    • OKAY. I just realized that I was playing on Chill. Normal level killed me. Anyway, seems like a great game.

      • Testsubject909

        Hang in there.

  • Excellent music choice! (I love Re-sublimity) Playing it now. XD
    Edit: got 28,093 points with the same song.

  • Kris

    Hmmm, that was pretty fun, although I hope the full version is friendly with more than just MP3s (I don’t really have many in my music library). Also, I wonder if there’s a way to turn off the life bar thing. I didn’t lose a single life despite taking more than few bullets. I’m sure the harder levels will kill me more quickly.

    Looking forward to the full thing!

    • Kris

      Alrighty, looks like there is a way to turn on one-hit kills and harder levels are tougher. I approve! (Still looking for support of more than just MP3 files though)

      • Testsubject909

        midi support for example wouldn’t hurt. Though not a lot of people uses that.

  • maxchain

    Look, I’m no connoisseur of the genre–once in a while I’ll pop in some Radirgy, or maybe play one of the newer Touhou Project games if nobody’s looking. I gave this a fair shake, but I feel like it’s lacking a certain… je ne sais quoi. The projectiles don’t feel like they’re that influenced by the music, but maybe that’s what they’re going for, maybe Shmusicup is trying not to spoon-feed it to you. Personally, I need something a little more fast-paced to get my blood flowing, like that epilepsy-fest Beat Hazard.

    • We actually asked about that when we interviewed them. They say the bullet patterns are by the “intensity” of the music, not direct beats.

      “The game analyses your music, then generates patterns in sync to the beats with complexity to reflect the rhythm,” was their exact quote (interview link is in the post).

      But I can completely see what you mean. Making the influence of the “beat” of the song more obvious in the bullet patterns might have been a better idea.

      • Like, if, for example, the bullets pulsed with the beat? That would work. Although that’s also kind of a no-brainer idea (thinking Rez here, too), and I’m surprised it wasn’t explored.

        EDIT: Going to dig in now with the ESPGALUDA soundtrack and some Dodonpachi DOJBLEX boss musics~

    • Testsubject909

      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s feeling that…

      It is music Themed, but it doesn’t feel music Inspired…

      For example, Rez (Damn I love that game). That game in it’s entirety reminds you of the beat, feels like music flowing and probably for good reasons. Showed that game to a few friends of mine who studies programming and the first thing they told me was that they literally put music visually available in the background on EVERYTHING. You know those visualizer modes you have, where you can see waves or fires flowing or the likes?

      Yeah, that’s what they mean. Of course, in Rez you weren’t just riding the music, you were contributing, and that’s a bit different now isn’t it?

      Ah, but then let’s move to one of the most popular music to gameplay game: Audiosurf.

      In that game, the stage can twist and turn, you can feel the waves of music as you ride it and sense a direct Field of Play to Audio sensation. But it doesn’t quite end there.

      There’s the sound effects, of choice of lack thereof. These little sound effects can at times complement a bit or subdue itself within the music, without drawing you too far away from just getting in that zone when you listen to music, while you’re playing through it.

      The explosion sound effects feel like they’re lacking, so does the shooting sound effect.

      Visually, it’s lacking a bit in the finer details of the flow. As for the audio, it lacks a complimentary or a subdued nature that doesn’t interrupt said flow.

      As for the gameplay, those like us who’re more accustomed to Bullethells will just have to ramp up the difficulty and challenge the higher bosses… But yeah, it does feel a bit underwhelming, no?

    • If anything, this game proves that not all music is fit for shmups.

  • Bullet speed was locked into normal, I suppose it could be more fun if it was faster. I did not find such options like the one hit kill but it would be a good addition as well. I guess it was expected to not feel that much in sync with the fast song I’ve placed first, but I’ve tryed it with a slower song later and did not notice the sync as well. Is it human nature to find patterns where there isn’t, and overlook patterns where they are suppose to be? If it is I guess my humanity ruined the experience for me then.

    I’ve got a very low score (142.953) compared to the people that already commented, even though I wasn’t hit once. This is just not my kind of game, but it kind of feels like a good alternative at least for a music player of sorts, since it was just awesome to be shooting and dodging stuff in my first run at the sound of X Japan – Blue Blood. xD

    • Testsubject909

      I approve!

      Now… Go and do Art of Life. Damn thing’s a marathon.

      • I swear to not make any comments on the regards of how completing “Art of Life” in that game would be “a life’s work” or anything similar. The doctor said is already making heavy damage to my health so I’m trying to quit doing puns.

        But surely enough, shooting that thing for 30 minutes straight would definitely help in my scoring issues in this preview beta, had I been eager for that.

  • Testsubject909

    If anyone wants a challenge, try this song:
    X-Japan – Art of Life, duration: Typically around 26-29 minutes or closer to 34 minutes if you use the Live version.


    • malek86

      I remember playing Audiosurf with Change of Seasons, trying not to hit any gray blocks at all. It wasn’t pretty. Concentration tends to go down after a while.

  • I tried to upload a song and Flash crashed. Good job Adobe.

  • Okay, got it to work right this time. The first two songs I tried are tagged correctly, but might be in a different tag format that isn’t recognized by the game. Currently going to try Valkyrja -Stratosphere Extended- from the album IA-STYLE/SUGURI. Song length: 7:28. LET’S DO THIS!

    • Awwww man… I died once toward the end of the song. I had an 88 multiplier too. Had a score of around 1.7 million though.

  • Protip: Use actual shmup music.

    • Use boss battle music.

      • I used stage 1 of DoDonPachi dai-ou-jou and the final boss theme of G-Darius. They both worked better than my metal collection.

  • Hm, the video shows the enemy as always being the one big ship. I hope the final game has more, smaller enemies.

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