Shmups saw something of a renaissance a decade or so ago, along with their arcade staple cousin 2D fighting games. I’ve always been of the view that it’s rare for any genre of game to really die out, but there was a period after the death of arcades where you didn’t see a lot of shmups outside of the Japanese doujin scene.
No more, thank goodness: from R-TYPE Final 2 to Rigid Force Redux there’s plenty of crazy shmups to bash your face against if that’s what you’re after. Mushihimesama, for instance, is a classic Cave shmup that’s made its way to the Switch.
Mushihimesama basically means “Bug Princess” and it’s about a heroine riding around on a giant bug. That doesn’t really change much about the fact that this is a Cave shooter through and through; sure, everything is bugs, but these bugs are still packing heat. Our bug-riding heroine might as well be a ship, since she’s got tons of weaponry to lay waste to entire screens’ worth of popcorn enemies while dodging massive patterns of brightly-colored bullets.
You can choose from several different firing modes but can switch between them by picking up power-ups during gameplay. These are the classic wide shot with low damage, narrow shot with high damage and a choice that’s somewhere between the two. However, dying will switch you back to the mode you chose as your default, so it’s better to just get used to one of the three instead of relying on swapping. Along with this, you can grab Gradius-style options to add to your firepower and bombs to save your life when the going gets tough.
As with most shmups, careful positioning and bullet-weaving is the way to get through. Holding the fire button slows your ship down and allows you to see your hitbox; since you only die when a bullet collides with this tiny point, this is vital for precision dodging. Mushihimesama is no joke. You’re not going to make it through the first, the fifth or even the tenth time you play, so get ready for a long haul.
There’s several different gameplay options if you’d like to mix up your bug blasting. Most of this is a little too arcane to go into, but let’s summarize by saying there’s several difficulty options as well as the choice to switch to a more updated version of the game (1.5) with slightly different mechanics and music. That does mean there are easier options for newcomers, but that’s not what you’re here for, right? Shmup fans want spice and there’s plenty to go around.
Presentation-wise, this is the same Mushihimesama you’ve probably already played. It looks as great as it always has, though the Switch sometimes chokes on the sheer volume of colorful nonsense occurring on-screen. Given the genre of game we’re talking about here, that might actually be considered a plus…but purists probably won’t think so and may be inclined to try other versions before this one.
Still, if you’ve not tried this game before and are interested in shmups on the go, the Switch version of Mushihimesama is an entirely reasonable choice. Mushihimesama is a classic for a reason and it shines on pretty much any platform you choose to play it on. Hardcore shmup fans who are dedicated to mastering this title might appreciate having it available in a portable format, but everyone who’s even a little interested ought to check it out.