Back in August, insert credit (“the other IC”) posted about an amazing little doujin manic shooter called Hitogata Happa (ãƒ’ãƒˆã‚¬ã‚¿ãƒãƒƒãƒ‘, which translates to “person-shaped leaves”). I played it then and fell in love with it, but it was quickly buried under all the other doujin games I found around the same time (including Melty Blood ReACT and the works of Team Shanghai Alice). In February I dug it up again, fell in love with it even more, and endeavoured to buy the full version of the game. Yesterday, after two months and half a dozen different shops, it finally arrived, and I have to say that the full version was well worth the wait, and is even significantly better than the incredible two-level glimpse of gameplay offered by the demo.
“Bullet Hell” fans will dig it immediately; this game has the most gorgeous “screen filling patterns of colorful enemy bullets that are all trying to kill you” I’ve ever seen, which it compliments with a sort of Miyazaki-esque design to the enemy ships, and wonderfully catchy music. The player’s ships are “dolls”, cute little characters with plant names like “Leaf” and “Clover” and “Rooty”. Between levels, you spend your points to buy additional dolls (4 different kinds are available in the demo, 8 in the full game) each of which, naturally, has a different primary attack and special move. Something all the dolls have in common, however, is a sort of “kamikaze” ability that causes significant damage in exchange for sacrificing a doll, and is mandatory for beating most of the bosses (be sure to watch the demonstration game, which plays if you sit at the main menu long enough, to get a feel for how and when to use the “kamikaze” ability). The difficulty, which I’m told is standard for Murasame’s games, is very challenging; I was able to muscle my way through easy mode in about 3 hours, but I haven’t even gotten past the first boss yet on normal mode, which makes Do Don Pachi look like a cakewalk. And then there are two more difficulty modes after normal. The easy mode was near the upper limit of my shooter-skill, but I’m really not very good at shooters overall, so the subsequent difficulties should keep the game challenging for even the most hardcore players.
Greg, if you’re reading this (which you probably are, since I’m going to email you about it right after I post it), this is exactly the kind of game I had in mind when I suggested you look into “the doujin game scene” for Manifesto; it runs perfectly on an American PC with no special language-support trickery, everything is either in English or easily discerned from context, so no knowledge of Japanese is necessary, and (as far as I can tell) all of the characters are original, so there would be none of the licensing headache inherent in derivative doujin games. Once you get Manifesto up and running, I would be more than happy to fly to Japan on your dime to go to Comiket and convince the makers of this game to join up. :)X
For anyone who wants the game right now (and if you like shooting games at all you should want it right now), first download the demo, and then when you fall in love with that and start jonesing for the full version I recommend ordering it through HimeyaShop, a Japanese doujin soft carrier that I’ve found to be the easiest to order from outside of Japan. (Update: HimeyaShop is no longer carrying it, but probably will carry it again at some point in the near future. For some reason, this is how doujin soft works; it’s available, and then it isn’t, and you just have to wait until it shows up again.)
Update: I forgot to mention that, when I first ran the full version of the game, the screen was off-center in full-screen mode. To fix it, I just went into “Options” and changed “Frame Control” from “Timer” to “VSynch”, and now all is hunky-dory. So… do that if you’re experiencing the same problem.