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Xbox 360 Shoooooting Festa Stage Report

DeathSmiles II, Guwange and more announced on stage at Microsoft's Akihabara festival du shmups.


The Xbox 360 Shoooooting Festa 2010 kicked off in Akihabara on Saturday, February 27th, and Andriasang.com was on hand to cover the proceedings. Big stage announcements were anticipated from Cave, Sega and 5pb. Outside the stages, over 15 playable titles showcased the Xbox 360 as the chosen hardware for serious shooting fans this generation.

Similar to 2008's shooting festa event, Microsoft wasn't shy about the 360's dominance of the genre.

After the crowds were brought into the hall and the media assembled, the presentations began with SEGA Marketing Representative Yasushi Yamashita introducing After Burner Climax for Xbox Live Arcade. Three screens blasted us with high-quality 3D dogfights and well-rendered scenery. Lock-on mechanics play a big part in the game, and Yamashita mentioned the simplicity and speed of the gameplay as one of its main attractions.

Sega's Yasushi Yamashita introduces After Burner Climax.

New to the After Burner series is Climax mode, which allows users to slow down the game and lock onto a bunch of enemies at once after building up a “Climax Gauge”. You can also fire unlimited missiles, and your combo will not cut out in this mode. Mr. Yamashita mentioned the obvious allusion to the “Climax Mode” in Bayonetta, the creator of which (Hideki Kamiya) is himself an admitted Afterburner fan.

After Burner Climax will also feature EX Options which allow users to make the game easier for themselves through such things as unlimited missiles and buffed up defenses. Avatar awards are being prepared for the game, including an elusive Gold Helmet for top-level players.

A PSN and XLA release for Climax is planned for Spring. A simultaneous PSN release is also planned. Yamashita said that the release time frame will be similar to a certain XBLA title from 2009, presumably a reference to Virtual On Oratorio Tangram, which was released on April 29.

Next up to the stage was 5pb. representative Akihito Umemoto. 5pb.’s presence at this event was already a point of contention among many shooting fans, given the Xbox 360 DoDonPachi Daioujou stolen code fiasco, and the unending delays in getting a patch out for the problematic game that resulted.

Umemoto began by talking about 5pb.’s adventure games (many of which are on the 360), but moved quickly into a public apology for the DoDonPachi patch issue. He said that his team was giving the issue their full attention and effort but that at the last submission stage for Microsoft, a deep problem was found in the patch. They are currently re-submitting it. His apology seemed to be coolly received amongst the many fans in attendance, who nevertheless politely clapped.

5pb.'s Akihito Umemoto.
An apologetic Umemoto.

Umemoto moved on to introduce Xbox 360's Ketsui Extra, releasing in package form on April 22nd, 2010. Known for its intuitive and fun scoring system, Ketsui has been a hotly anticipated port amongst shooting fans since it was announced. Released initially at the height of the Bullet Hell arcade craze, Ketsui was at first overshadowed by DoDonPachi Daioujou, but was later recognized to be a major game in its own right. Despite being released in 2002, score competitions for the game still continue in the pages of Arcadia every month.

Ketsui Extra and the DoDonPachi patch were the hot topics during 5pb's part of the stage.

Ketsui’s gameplay consists of collecting green multiplier chips by zooming close to enemies. This will trigger a time window in which any enemy destroyed with your lock-on shot will give you multiplier chips of the same value. Your score grows as your chip counter gets higher and higher, giving great incentive not to die or bomb throughout the game.

The Xbox 360 release of Ketsui will feature an additional X-mode which has some innovative new gameplay elements that seem to fill the screen with those little green chips. The 360 version's limited edition will also include a remixed soundtrack of both Ketsui and DoDonPachi Daioujou.

Before leaving the stage, 5pb. also revealed that they are working on an original shooting title for release in 2010 on the 360. Details on the game will come following Ketsui's release.

In addition to the new 2010 shooter, this slide said that 5pb. is preparing a variety of genres for 360 release.

Now it was CAVE’s turn. Presenting were Game Development Department head Makoto Asada and “Graphic President” Junya Inoue.

Cave's Makoto Asada (left) and Junya Inoue (right).
Two announcements coming, promises this slide.

After some brief banter, Asada got into the meat of it and gave us what we had all been waiting for. Guwange for XLA! No, not Guwang.

Guwange is a beautiful vertical scrolling shooter set in medieval Japan. Gameplay involves chaining through levels by making smart use of the spirit that has possessed your character. This classic of the shooter genre has been enjoyed by Japanese arcade gamers for years. Cave found in a 2009 survey that it was the most wanted Cave shooter amongst fans, and as a result has elected to port it to XLA for release in 2010.

The XLA version will include three versions of the game: Arcade Version, a “Blue Version,” which was previously put on display at Cave Festival events, and an Arrange version which involves some reworking of the controls with the analog stick. Given that this game is an XLA release, it seems that CAVE will be adding another localization notch to its belt after the North American release of DeathSmiles by Aksys.

Guwange, coming to XLA in 2010. The title was playable at the event.
Guwange was the most wanted XLA shooter in a survey conducted by Cave.

Next, Asada readied us for the next big CAVE release. There had been a lot of speculation: the bullet-canceling, chaining nightmare DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu, or perhaps something more obscure like the pig-girl themed Muchi Muchi Pork? Once the trailer began, it was immediately obvious to the arcade players in the building: DeathSmiles II!

The main event: DeathSmiles II.

Initially received poorly in the arcades due to a mediocre scoring system and questionable 3D graphics, the game has undergone three title revisions. The 360 version seemed to be a total revision of the game: 2 new characters Rosa and Follett, two new stages, three selectable difficulty levels for each stage, new enemy placements and a total graphical upgrade. Oh yeah and for first reservers, the game comes with a DLC for new BGM that can be selected while playing the game.

New for the Xbox 360 version.
Additional new 360 features will be announced via magazines and the official blog.
The limited edition (left), standard edition (center), and pre-order bonus (right) introduced.

Following the stage, Microsoft opened the floor for demo play. Check back for our impressions of Death Smiles II, Senko no Rondo, Ketsui, and After Burner Climax.

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