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Old 12-22-2004, 10:43 PM   #259
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,083
Shikigami no Shiro II
AKA: Castle Shikigami 2
Gamecube Nintendo

I really hate the boxes for the Japanese
Gamecube. They are absolute crap.

The prequel to this game was released as Mobile Light Force in the US. Gamers barely noticed or cared. But Taito's Alfa System decided to give us a much better game with the sequel which is also available on the Dreamcast and the US PS2 for a very low price ($10 I think). You should pick it up. But this is the Gamecube Nintendo version we are looking at here, so not all features are guaranteed to be in the PS2 version and vice-versa. Still, for only $10, why not?

I can not think of an exciting caption for this picture.

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics are fairly typical of the "Ikaruga-era" of vertical shooters. There isn't much here to set it apart. 480p is here, but obviously widescreen is not supported, being that this is a vertical shooter. Enemy designs are decent but don't really stand out from a graphical point of view, and there aren't any flaws with the graphics that I can see. One unique aspect is that the aura surrounding your character will change color depending on how "tense" the situation is. The more danger you are in (closer to the enemy or enemy bullets, etc), the more red your aura becomes. That's pretty cool. Most everything is made up of polygons, though there are some overlayed 2D graphics, with stage 3-1 being a great example of this. The illustrations in the gallery are very high-res and can be zoomed in to a great degree before any blockiness occurs. As with most vertical shooters, you have a variety of TV modes to choose from including horizontal where the game is played at it's correct size and you must tilt your TV on it's side. I played the game in this mode to capture all of the pictures in this review and even the Quicktime video (see below), because I value high quality and also because I love you. I dream about you every night and want you to have only the best screenshots and Quicktimes.

Before you fight a boss, you talk about how
things are going, how your day has been, and
other exciting things like that.

Some of the bosses are pretty
damn tough. Not this one.

Sound: 7/10
You get two choices of music right off the bat; Original or S2 Remix. The original has some pretty good music and I like it quite a bit. I highly recommend listening to it. The S2 Remix is more techno-ey and definitely less impressive, but you might as well listen to it once just to hear it. Sound effects range from average to kind of cool, and there is a lot of voice during the cut scenes. The Japanese truly do love nothing more than to listen to each other babble endlessly. Why the player and the bosses would have things to say to each other is beyond me. After you complete a stage your character will come onscreen and talk to him/herself out loud! Obviously your character needs to be checked into a mental institution as talking to one's self is an indication of SEVERE mental illness and murderous tendencies!

I hope you enjoy the classic Sega hit "Columns"!
You must match up the colors in horizontal rows to
defeat the boss, and you can't destroy the gold
blocks. But the red ones can be destroyed using
your special attack, and the grey ones can
be destroyed by your normal shots.

Gameplay: 8/10
There's more to the gameplay than meets the eye at first. When you first play it, you'll think you're playing just another vertical shooter from Japan, only using humans as characters. It is actually much deeper than that. You have 8 characters to choose from, and they each have two modes. I fail to see the difference between the two modes, though. They both look and play the same to me. Then there is the fact that the more danger you are in, the more damage your bullets do to the enemy, the more coins you can get and the higher your multipliers can be. I have no idea why you collect coins. There are no shops to buy anything at. Some of the bosses are genius in their design. I especially like the stage 3-1 boss, which reminds me of playing Columns. You have your normal shot, your special "hold-down-da-button" attack and your bomb. Each character has different attacks and bombs which adds to the replay value tremendously. Another unique thing about this game is that there is an option to TURN ON SLOWDOWN! Sign me up, I want the slowdown on, baby! Slowdown freakin' ROCKS! Yes, you can toggle the slowdown on and off! Where was this feature on the SNES? I can't seem to find the option to turn flicker and low resolution on, though. The arcade probably had slowdown, so I am assuming it's in there to fully replicate the arcade feel. It's best to use the D-Pad rather than the analog stick to control this game, as it does not offer more than 8 directions, so the D-Pad is quicker and more precise. If you choose to use the analog instead, then you are a horrible human being. The game has 10 levels for you to complete and also an extreme mode which limits your continues. It even has an online ranking, but don't get a huge erection just yet... it doesn't use the modem or the BBA. Instead it uses the incredibly lame "Write down this password and input it on our shoddy website" type of ranking. Bleh. The game doesn't seem super hard at first thanks to a very small hit area on your character, but your continues will run out quickly. You must improve greatly if you plan on beating this game. There are bullets everywhere in this game, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Check out this short 9MB Quicktime video of level 3-1 for a very small example of this. Wow, and it gets much crazier than this in the later levels! This game also offers two-player simultaneous action.

Better pay up now before the rates go up!

Wrap up:
Not a bad li'l shooter for the Japanese Gamecube. Quite fun!
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