Developer: CAVE Co., Ltd.

Price: $13.99
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

The key to any good bullet hell, top-down shooter such as ESPGALUDA II HD is balance. CAVE has proven in the past that they are capable of providing incredible, polished, unique shooters, and this re-release of the iPhone classic proves that this company can perfect the 2D shooter genre on any platform.

For all the nitty gritty details of the original release, our review of ESPGALUDA II should suffice, but it is important to point out some of the updates that have occurred since the game has been translated to the bigger screen.

The most important change is the splitting of the game. ESPGALUDA II HD can be purchased piecemeal in either an Arcade or Smartphone mode standalone. The full game costs $13.99 on the iPad 2, but each of the individual mode versions only cost $6.99, giving curious gamers a way in without spending the full amount. Each of these versions only contains one of the modes, while the full game contains both.

The two modes, Smartphone and Arcade, are very similar to the previous iPhone and Arcade modes. Smartphone mode does now contain the brand new HD graphics along with an updated soundtrack – quite a stellar electronica soundtrack, in fact. Other than that, the package is pretty much identical.

In terms of the actual game, there is no question CAVE has created the undisputed king of iOS bullet-hell shooters with its flawless translation of ESPGALUDA II. The action is constant but not overwhelming. Enemies crowd the screen from all angles across five substantial levels, each capped off by a boss more impressive than the last. There are three characters to choose from, each with a unique shooting pattern and different ending cutscenes. The special attacks allow for the use of a shield or to slow down time to to destroy bullets, gathering more diamonds to be used for special attacks.

This is not a very long game. Completing all five levels will take most gamers less than an hour. That being said, this game is all about replay value. Any time the avatar is defeated, players are able to start right back where they were killed, a feature that serves this game perfectly, as the score resets with every death. The only way to reach an impressive high score is to finish the game without using a continue.

All in all, there’s just not much to complain about. The graphics are fantastic, the animations are smooth, the replay value is enormous, and the game is balanced perfectly. It can be hard to justify the price considering the amount of content in this full package, but CAVE’s offering of the Arcade Mode and Smartphone Mode separately should solve that problem for the more price-conscious out there. Pick this game up immediately.

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