Espgaluda II is one of the many Cave shooters that people in the US can experience on their North American Xbox 360 but is it worth the price? Well to put it simply it really depends on how much you like maniac shooters and Cave games. Before picking this up though I would recommend purchasing Deathsmiles which is a Cave shooter that has already been localized in North America for the Xbox 360 and you should be able to get it for about $20-$30 here on Amazon. Now if you've already played Deathsmiles, loved it, and want more then Espgaluda II is a great place to start.
However, I should note that this game is also available for the iOS so if you have an iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS or above, or a 4th generation iPod Touched or above then you can purchase this game for one of those devices. There are some obvious drawbacks to this though. First off, you'll be playing on a smaller screen when compared to a decent sized HDTV. Second of all, you won't be playing the game with a physical controller and instead you'll be using a virtual one since the game will be played using a touch screen. The final obvious drawback is that you won't be getting a hard copy of the game which collectors of these sorts of things will most likely have a problem with. The not so obvious drawback is that the Black Label version of the game is NOT included in the iOS version. The iOS version kind of makes up for this however, by having an iPhone mode alongside the original arcade mode. The iPhone mode introduces some new game mechanics that utilizes the touch screen on your Apple device. I should also mention that the iOS version will NOT be in HD unless you're playing this game on an iPad 2. The standard quality version of Espgaluda II for the iOS retails for $8 while the HD quality version retails for $14.
Now I have a vague idea of what your thinking: "Why would I want to shell out a little over $50 for this game when I can get it for $8?" Honestly, I'm not going to say you don't have good a point but at the same time playing this game on a mobile device with a touch screen just isn't the same as playing it on a larger screen with a controller. Also, like I said you would be playing the game in standard quality on the iOS version unless you have an iPad 2 and you wouldn't have the Black Label version. Okay, now that I got all that out of the way onto the review of Espgaluda II Black Label for the Xbox 360.
The Xbox 360 version of Espgaluda II features multiple game modes which include: Black Label, Arcade, Arrange, Xbox 360 and Omake.
There are also Novice versions of the Black Label and Xbox 360 modes which are simply easier versions of those modes. Now I'm not going to be able to go into too much detail when it comes to describing the differences between each of these modes since this game is a very deep shooter and most of the differences between the different modes aren't noticeable until you become accustomed to the game mechanics which takes a lot of time (I'm talking hours upon hours of play time). I will however, explain the basic differences between these modes even though this will only be scratching the surface.
Black Label: Your character has the ability to enter a form that causes the enemies to shoot more bullets when a meter at the top of the screen is partially full. You fill the meter by destroying enemies and you'll want to do this if you're playing for score. This is because destroying enemies with your regular weapon will convert their bullets into points. So this scoring mechanic can be classified as a risk and reward system. The music is also remixed in this mode and 1 of the 3 playable characters in the game is replaced by another one. Lastly, this mode does not have 2 player support.
Arrange: This game mode introduces color coded bullet canceling mechanics.
Xbox 360/Arcade: The Xbox 360 mode is simply a higher resolution of version of the arcade mode so I figured I would lump these two together into one category. This mode is probably the most straightforward of the bunch since you don't have to worry about any extra mechanics.
Omake: This mode has completely different scoring mechanics from the Arcade/Xbox 360 modes from what I hear but I haven't tried it out yet.
Hopefully I have given you a basic idea of what to expect when playing any of the game modes available in the Xbox 360 version of Espgaluda II. Now onto describing the basic game play. The core game-play in Espgaluda II is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. If you just want to do a run through the game then all you have to do is just shoot everything in sight and keep continuing when you run out of lives. Now if you actually want to milk this game for what it's worth then you'll want to try beating the game without continuing which is known as a 1cc (one-credit clear). After that you could try and play for score by figuring out the tricks associated with the game-play mechanics for each game mode.
Okay, now I'm going to explain some issues people may have with this title. These issues don't necessarily bother me mind you but they may prove to be major problems for others. For starters, since this game is an import a majority of the text on the game case is in Japanese along with the entirety of the game manual. Menus in the game are easy to navigate however since each option is in English but deeper descriptions of them are in Japanese. Story-related text and achievements are also in Japanese. For me this wasn't really an issue because there really isn't a lot of plot development in the game, save for the epilogue. Also, I personally don't really play these types of games for the story anyways. I play them for the game-play. If you are interested in the plot-line of this game though, I'm pretty sure that you can find some kind of synopsis of it online. The other major gripe that people may have with this game is the game length. I believe my first play-through of the game clocked in at a little under 30 minutes. This makes sense though since this is an arcade game. And also because this is a game that's meant to be mastered opposed to beating and throwing aside afterwards. Some people may find the short game length to be a turn-off though so I figured it would be a good idea to give people the heads-up about it. Well that's it for the possible issues people may have with this title.
Now something I haven't really covered yet is the overall fun factor of Espgaluda II. Is it fun? You bet it is, granted you like the genre of course but if you're still reading this review I'm assuming you do. Everything about this game shines. Shooting down wave after wave of enemies while weaving through a sea of bullets is such a satisfying experience. Every frame in this game also explodes with color and is very pleasing to the eye due to the amazing art direction. The beautiful graphics combined with the fast-paced nature of the game makes this a total adrenaline rush. Each stage in this game is also complete with a sub-boss and end-boss which really keeps the momentum going. Throw in a ridiculously awesome and catchy soundtrack that has a bit of a techno flair to it and you have yourself a beast of a maniac shooter. This game stands tall among the rest of the Cave shooters, which are in a league of their own when compared to other games that make up the genre (at least in my humble opinion). So if this game sounds like your cup of tea then I say go and get this game. Whether it's the iOS or the Xbox 360 version this game just begs to be played by fans of maniac shooters or fans of arcade-style shooters in general. Mad props to Cave and keep the maniac shooters coming guys! Highly recommended!
PS: I am open to all criticism. If you notice a problem with this review such as it containing inaccurate information or the like please let me know so I can fix it. Thank you!