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Espgaluda is a vertical bullet hell shoot 'em up developed by Cave and released in arcades 2003. A PlayStation 2 port was released in 2004. The game was followed by a sequel, Espgaluda II.

Story

In the nation of Shinra, where the queens inherit supernatural gifts from generation to generation, king Jakou has decided to use the bloodline's powers for military purposes. He aims to exploit his wife's abilities and has two of his children, Ageha and Tateha -- a two-year-old and a newborn at the time -- partake in the Espgaluda project, where they are experimented upon and given extraordinary powers. The queen, horrified by his actions and plans for the future, seals herself and her powers away in emerald gems in an attempt to stop him, but Jakou's alchemists soon develop engines capable of extracting and exploiting the gems' energies, and an army of war machines powered by them is built.

Hiodoshi, one of the key alchemists in the Espgaluda project, feels guilty for what he's done and escapes with Ageha and Tateha. He hides them far from Jakou's castle and tries to give them as normal upbringing as possible. However, after sixteen years they are found by Jakou's soldiers, and Hiodoshi is brutally killed in front of the children's eyes. This trauma awakens their dormant powers: they sprout ethereal wings, and swiftly destroy the soldiers responsible for their guardian's death. They then fly off and, guided by a mysterious force, venture deep into Shinra to stop their depraved father.

Mechanics

Each character has a shot attack, used by tapping the shot button, and a laser attack, used by holding the shot button. The shot attacks are weaker but allow the characters to move relatively fast, whereas the laser attacks are more powerful, but limit the characters' movement speed. The characters also have a guard barrier attack governed by a meter at the bottom of the screen, that makes them temporarily invincible and deals massive damage. Each guard barrier attack costs 25% of the meter.

The player character can switch between four different modes, which affect a variety of things:

Normal Mode

In this mode, enemies drop emerald gems when destroyed. When the player has 250 gems, no more can be added to the counter.

Kakusei Shikai

In this mode the properties of the player character's shot and laser are altered, and the enemies and their bullets slow down. When an enemy is destroyed, its bullets turn into gold. Each piece of gold adds to a score multiplier, which maxes out at 100. If the player character is hit by a bullet or enemy, a guard barrier attack automatically activates provided the meter isn't empty, saving the character's life. These automatically activated guard barrier attacks cost 50% of the meter rather than the usual 25%. In Kakusei Shikai emerald gems deplete over time, and if the player hasn't exited the mode by the time the counter hits zero, he will enter Kakusei Shikai Over.

Kakusei Shikai Over

Like in Kakusei Shikai, the properties of the player character's shot and laser are altered, but enemy bullets speed up instead of slowing down. When an enemy is destroyed, 1 gold is gained. If the player character is hit by a bullet or enemy, a guard barrier attack automatically activates provided the meter isn't empty, saving the character from death. These automatically activated guard barrier attacks cost 100% of the meter rather than the usual 25%.

Characters

There are two playable characters in Espgaluda:

Ageha

An 18-year-old male who becomes female in Kakusei Shikai. The faster of the characters. His shot is narrow but strong. In Kakusei Shikai, his laser becomes more powerful.

Tateha

A 16-year-old female who becomes male in Kakusei Shikai. The slower of the characters. Her shot is wide. In Kakusei Shikai her shot becomes more powerful, and homes slightly.

 

  

  

The following are non-playable characters: 

Hiodoshi

An alchemist who worked on the Espgaluda project. Feeling guilty, he escaped with Ageha and Tateha. Sixteen years later he is killed by Jakou's soldiers, a tragedy that awakens Ageha and Tateha's powers.

Seseri

The 12-year-old half-sister of Ageha and Tateha, fathered by Jakou with an unknown woman after the queen had sealed herself away. She is jealous of her siblings due to her father's obsession with their unique powers, and volunteers to partake in the search for them. She appears as the boss of stage 1, and later re-appears as the boss of stage 5-1.

Jakou

The king of Shinra, and father of Ageha, Tateha and Seseri. He appears in stage 5-2 as the final boss.

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