This vertical scrolling bullet-ridden colourful shooter is great fun and dead hard on the Nintendo Switch.
It’s a re-release, having originally hit the arcades way back in 2004 which was later ported to both the PS2 and Xbox 360 as well as PC in 2015.
Developer Cave has decided it might have legs again on Nintendo’s handheld and it feels surprisingly fresh as a daisy on the console.
Where the likes of Resogun have since trodden, Mushihimesama shows it really was ahead of its time with regards to the bullet-shooter and easily holds its own still against more modern takes of the genre.
Set in a beautiful fantasy world, the story revolves around a Japanese manga-style princess called Reco who protects her village from a plague in a world inhabited by gigantic insects known as Koju.
You ride Reco’s trusty sidekick, a beetle named Kiniro, across five gorgeously colourful stages filled with huge insectoid enemies to the heart of the Koju forest.
From the first second it’s frantic as you fire off endless bullets ahead of you as the game throws ever more difficult beasties your way, each pummelling your position with a colour-filled bombardment of their own weapon discharges.
The result is a screen packed full of vibrancy and danger as you become adept at dashing Kiniro left and right, up and down, avoiding the onslaught from swarms of enemies while also trying to kill off every critter scrolling down the screen towards you.
As the levels pass you come face-to-face with regular Boss fights against supersized insects who rain hellfire down on your position while you chip slowly away at their health bar with upgraded guns and lobbed bombs.
It’s frantic, unforgiving and incredibly addictive as you die and jump straight back in for more punishment.
And when you do crack a level, it’s fist-pumping stuff and the reward is incredibly gratifying.
There are five stages in total, including a lush forest, a blazing desert, and a solemn cave.
And there are three different game modes and difficulty levels to choose from, including a “Novice” mode, which is great for beginners, and “Ultra” mode, which will make even the most experienced shooter fans scream in frustration.
You also get to pick from three attack type bugs to fight back, each with different combinations of move speed and shot patterns.
The S-Power attack type favours high mobility, with powerful shots fired straight ahead.
W-Power fires shots more widely, but has the slowest movement capabilities of the three.
Or you can enjoy a medium speed with M-Power while firing shots in a cone that widens farther out from the character.
The much needed but sparse bombs you carry clear the screen of shots when it’s getting too much while providing temporary invincibility, and equippable attack options offer forward-facing lasers and side guns to help clean up enemies passing by.
For such an old game it still plays incredibly fast and with precision on the Joycon controllers.
The graphics, while clearly retro, are impressively colourful on the screen.
And while it is a one-trick pony of a game, it’s addictiveness and easy pick-up means you will find yourself drifting back occasionally for that ‘one more go’ moment.
However, it is limited compared to modern games. And five levels really isn’t enough when you compare it to the length of the big Nintendo releases of today like Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey.
If you like bullet shooters, this retro classic is a must buy for this bargain price. But those gamers who want a more sprawling epic would be wise to save their cash for a fresher video game.