App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Cave has been releasing a number of high-quality SHMUPs on the App Store for quite a while now. They all have the unmistakable Cave quality, too. Glowing bullets, thousands upon thousands of shiny gem-like things to collect for points, automatic bomb activation when struck by an enemy's lucky shot, the list goes on. Keeping that grand tradition alive, they've gone and released an iOS version of their arcade classic, Bug Princess (a.k.a. Mushihime-sama). The results probably won't shock anyone, but I'm pretty sure they'll thrill.
Giant bugs known as the Koju have been attacking Utakata village relentlessly. In a desperate attempt to stop the senseless violence, the village queen's son, Aki, wanders into the forest to find the Koju's leader and make things better. Or at least amicable. The attacks abruptly stop, but the young prince never returns. Princess Rico of the Hoshifuri village sets out to look for him, braving the dangers of the forest and the anger of the Koju. Players take control of Rico as she makes the perilous journey with the help of her Rhinoceros Beetle Koju, Kiniro. From there, it's classic Cave with all sorts of manic dodging, shooting and more shooting.
There's plenty of (deserved) praise to lavish on Bug Princess simply because it's a Cave shooter, and all that that implies. There's more to it that that, of course. The Koju look fantastic, with smooth animations and some downright imposing (and massive) bosses. Utilizing the "option beetles" properly can also make a big difference as they'll add some much needed firepower and can be set in different formations in order to spread or focus their fire. There are four difficulty levels (Novice, Normal, Hard, Hell) and three game (Original, Maniac and Ultra) modes to choose from which can be used to adjust the amount of bullets on screen and custom tailor the experience to a player's skill level. Having just barely beaten Original on Normal, and attempting the first stage on Maniac (also Normal), I'm fairly certain I don't want to go anywhere near Hell or Ultra.
There's very little I found issue with while playing Bug Princess. The story is practically non-existent (I had to look it up on the website) and it lacks the more robust offerings that some other Cave games provide, with the exception of Score Attack, but it was originally an arcade game and that's kind of how they wanted to keep it.
Suffice it to say, Cave has done it yet again. Bug Princess is another great shooter to add to the ol' iOS library. It's significantly cheaper than its brethren, too, so it's also bound to appeal to frugal entomophobics everywhere.