Arcade Appreciation #14 - Guwange
by, 19 May 2012 at 03:04 AM (692 Views)
Guwange is an arcade shooter by Cave so you probably have an idea of what to expect. There's some scoring system that's based around an easy to understand gimmick and tons of bullets. These aspects are held together by tight mechanics and heavily refined game-design. Not a single element is wasted so mastering this title calls upon your every ability. What's the most important aspect however? A good intro.
One thing shooter devs have a hard time figuring out is a good intro. There's usually far more backstory than is ever necessary or you're expected to care about the fate of the universe or humanity or somebody's pet or who gives a care? In seconds Cave has already explained why you're fighting. Thus you're already pumped up and ready to rock. So even when the screen looks like some jerkwad is pouring crunchberries in front of the TV you're so totally hyped and in the zone that it won't even matter. Guwange has a story that 90% of its players will never bother to look up but everyone knows the intros. Things happen, people die, now let's start the game!
Guwange is a bit more difficult to follow than most other Cave shooters. Not only do you have to watch what your character is doing and keep him away from bullets but you also have to keep tabs on their familiar(or whatever they're actually called, yes I'm part of the 90%). These demons not only bomb enemies but they also catch their bullets and turn them pink. When an enemy is destroyed all pink bullets turn into cash. Yes this can be considered "bullet-canceling" but this is actually fun! Mainly because you can't just sit around for 10 minutes while the screen turns pink and then explodes into a golden shower. Pink bullets turn back to blue after a second which means you have to work quick before you get overwhelmed.
What keeps things interesting is that you're never going in and your adversaries are never coming from the same direction. You're a fair bit beefier than the average prototype ship or ESP channeling cyber-angel, as in you can take 2-3 hits before you croak as opposed to one. That only goes so far considering you're busy keeping yourself out of danger and searching for those opportunities that put the familiar in the center of as much heat as possible. Also you gotta keep track of that all-important chain, Guwange is one of those crazy shooters where the entirety of it can be chained for a huge bonus.
This is one of those rare instances where I believe full-game chaining works. Usually I'd rather see that sort of thing relegated to a stage-by-stage basis so the trouble stages can be practiced for maximum effectiveness and the first thought when a chain is lost shouldn't be "Well! This game is completely boned!" When you inevitably retry Guwange you'll start at looking at ways to improve your chaining. You'll notice the key enemies to keep alive for those precious half-seconds, the right movements to catch more bullets with your familiar, and memorizing enemy locations so that you're not caught scrambling and putting survival over any hopes of getting some extra points. It's very smart circular game-design. You use the easier stages to practice what you've learned and become better prepared for those stages where everything fell apart.
What's disappointing is how badly the XBLA port of Guwange bombed. This version was even available on sale for a little while. Yes it has issues, some more noticeable than others. I'm not sure how much the patch actually fixed so it may still have inaccuracies in terms of slowdown. I wouldn't know since my only frame of reference is MAME and I certainly don't own the PCB. The two arrange modes and the leaderboards are very nice but it's difficult to play this game with the lingering thoughts of this port's imperfections in my head. Actually strike that, I haven't once taken the quality of this port into consideration while playing. Also with this port I've been doing better at Guwange than I ever have before so whatever.
Still it's worrying. I doubt I'll ever be cut out for reviewing arcade ports if I can't pick out these important details. Sigh this sucks bad.
All the same, Guwange is totally worth looking into. You may be the type who plays for score and end up hating it and that's perfectly alright by me. The shooters I actually enjoy playing for score make up a very VERY short list. Anyone can appreciate this game for its creative gimmick that is well-implemented.
For crying out loud why do I keep numbering these Arcade Appreciation posts? They make absolutely no sense.
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