Use our tips and we Reco you'll be good enough.

Shmups can be pretty off-putting experiences can’t they? Every difficulty mode is even harder than the last and when you jump online to look for tips you hear people talking about “no bomb” runs and how they can score more points on the first level than you managed in your best ever go (and they probably did it blindfolded with a broken arm, too). It doesn’t have to be so intimidating though!

Cave have been sneaking novice modes into their home shmup ports for a while now, designed with newcomers in mind. They tend to feel a little too empty for me though, which is where Mushihimesama Futari’s arrange mode comes in – it’s a 360-exclusive mode that’s very easy to survive in (even when it’s throwing tons of bullets your way) but difficult if you want to play for score.

Sky Of Fragrant Souls

Arrange mode is single player only, but has both Reco (pink pigtailed lady) and Palm (boy with the dubious tube top) in play at the same time. It sounds confusing, but it’s really very simple – you have a “main” character in play that you control directly and a “sub” character that automatically shadows their movement; you can switch between the two of them at any time by pressing the X button.

The official terms are “Offense Side” (in-play character) and “Defense Side” (shadowing character), the reason being that this basically describes their roles in play; your OS character is the one doing all the damage you’d expect a shmup character to do, while your DS brings in arrange mode’s unique feature – bullet slowdown and reflection.

mushihimesama maniac mode

At the bottom of the screen are two counters, left for your current OS character and right for your current DS character, these are arrange modes all-important barrier counters and they dictate whether you can slow down or reflect oncoming enemy shots or not. So long as your DS character has something in the tank any nearby bullets will slow down, making it much easier to maneuver around them.

If you still find yourself hemmed in on all sides (which will almost definitely happen no matter how good you are) a quick dab on the laser button will send all those nasty pinky-purple bullets away and leave a trail of delicious gems in their wake, at the cost of some of the DS’s barrier counter, mind you. The good news is that these gems you’ve just created fill up your OS characters barrier gauge, so basic play revolves around switching between the two – using one character to reflect shots and create gems to increase the barrier gauge of the other character. This knowledge alone is enough to survive through the game as anything, even scary screen-filling boss bullet patterns, can be deflected in this way.

Sea Of Frozen Crystals

If you want to score big however, you’ll need to think about filling both OS and DS gauges up to the maximum 9,999 value and then unleashing “Fever Mode”, a thing of beauty where you can reflect constantly until both gauges empty without penalty and giant point-giving gems fall out of anything you shoot at with the laser; it can get to the point where you literally have the whole screen awash with them. Filling up both gauges requires one tiny piece of information, though – once one character has their barrier gauge at 9,999 their gauge is automatically replenished when used to reflect shots as long as it’s used in very short bursts and allowed to regenerate to 9,999 before it’s used again.

So then, your basic scoring tactic is: get one characters barrier to 9,999 as soon as possible, make them your DS character, use them to reflect bullets until the OS character also hits 9,999, enter Fever Mode (press laser button), then create and grab as many gems as you can! As Fever Mode is incredibly useful against bosses (both for survival and for score), it’s a good idea to save it until then if you can, although as you play and become more familiar with the levels you’ll find you can activate Fever Mode more than once in the level and still have time to build it up again for the bosses – it’s just a question of practice!

mushihimesama mental

On The Verge Of Madness

Bosses work in a slightly different way if you’re playing for score – the “total counter” at the top left works as a hit multiplier and rapidly counts down, so the best tactic (although definitely not the safest!) is to completely ignore reflecting and feed them lasers to the face until they die.

There are two exceptions to this rule – certain forms of the second boss (the squid-like monster) and the last boss can be effectively “milked” for score – “milking” being the incredibly dull process of causing minimal damage to the boss but still scoring points from them. It’s a technically impressive feat but not a very fun way to play, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re so good at the game that maxing out the score counter (it is possible in arrange mode) is the only thing you haven’t achieved.

We Did It!

Which I suppose brings me onto the point I really want to get across – have fun. I wanted to write this because shmups these days tend to crush interested new players either through sheer number of bullets or by massively complicated scoring systems; I hope that the information above demystifies the thought process even just a little and makes an enjoyable game an approachable one. Enjoy yourself, practice (the game has an incredibly customisable practice mode, do use it), and don’t worry about those YouTube videos that show people perfectly dodging everything on difficulty levels you daren’t even try – you think this is their first go on their first shmup? It isn’t.