US Release: February 25th, 2010
Platform: Xbox 360
Overview: Espgaluda II Black Label is an enhanced Xbox 360 port of Espgaluda II, a bullet hell shoot ‘em up developed by Cave and released in arcades 2005. Black Label was released in Japan 2010, is free of region protection, and brings a plethora of additions including updated high-resolution graphics and six new game modes. The first print edition of the game includes a soundtrack CD, and the Limited Edition includes an Xbox 360 faceplate.
Scott’s Thoughts: Hands down, no questions asked, this is my favorite shmup on the market. I originally imported my copy from Japan, and it was worth the extra funds that required. It’s main hook is a player driven slow-down mechanic, that while used by higher-level players to maximize score, it can also be used by beginner players to survive in a pinch. That fact alone, makes the bullet-hell mechanics, a staple of CAVE shmups, entirely more approachable and entertaining. As always, CAVE is responsible for gorgeous smooth graphics, beautiful rhythmic bullet colors and patterns, all set to a soundtrack that gets play outside of the game for me. Espgaluda II is great as an introduction to the genre, but also great as a deep dive into one of the most popular arcade genre’s of yesterday. And no worries, we’ll help you wade through the Japanese writing & explain the mechanics.