I have reviewed all of Cave’s shooters for iOS, and I’m still yet to be disappointed. It’s nice to see a studio focussed on what they do best… and that’s bullet hell.
Bug Princess is a port of Insect Princess, or its proper name Mushihimesama. It takes place in the same setting as Bug Panic, and even features the same lead character. However, unlike Bug Panic the gameplay is more in-line with Cave’s other shooters such as Dodonpachi and Espgaluda 2.
There is no shortage of vertical-scrolling shooters on the AppStore, but none come close to the intensity of a Cave shooter. Bug Princess is no different, with a tonne of enemies and their incoming spray of bullets constantly invading the screen. In fact this may be their most intense game yet.
What surprises me the most is the level of detail and variety in the enemies. There’s no space ships or mechs to be seen, instead they are all insect-based. From tiny little flies to giant horned beetles, there seems no limit to the size and scope of each enemy. The bosses in particular are impressive.
As with most of Cave’s games you play as a girl with seemingly limitless power. Only this time she’s riding a flying beetle (as you do). Like previous Cave games you use the entire screen to move her around the screen. I recommend placing your finger just below her, giving you the ability to see exactly where she is in relation to the onslaught of bullets. This one-to-one control actually has a benefit over traditional arcade sticks, as it gives you more precision in navigating the maze of bullets and coming out the other side unscathed.
Shots are fired automatically, allowing you to focus on dodging the enemy fire. However you do have two action buttons at your disposal. One is for bombs, which you pick up along the way, the other is for switching formation of your drone pickups. Once you have wingmen, or in this case winged bugs, you can switch their formation to either spread their fire beside you, or close-up and combine fire for a more intense forward blast.
While the game is intense, it is short. You can get through it on Normal difficulty in under an hour. Thankfully though there are multiple ways to play through it again, with each new play-mode unlocking with each successive play through. For example after beating Original mode you unlock Maniac mode, which chucks even more bullets at you and rewards you with higher score bonuses. Combine that with the highest difficulty level ‘hell’ and you’ll be seeing streams of bullets in your sleep!
While I do love the in-game sprite graphics, I do have a problem with some of the artistic choices in the menu design, particularly the font used which isn’t exactly easy to read. It’s all a little garish, as are most of Cave’s games! The story too makes little sense, but then again, who cares! This game is all about blowing shit up amongst a bevy of bullets. And for that reason it’s a rip-roaring success.