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(ATLUS / CAVE 1999)

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After several space shooters and similar subjected games, CAVE decided to bring out something completely different. In Guwange, a game that was produced for the japanese market only, you play a legend during the Muromachi era (1336-1573) of the japanese history. It is a time of war and mystery. While other companies probably used this background for an adventure or an rpg, CAVE wouldn't be CAVE if they made Guwange not just a kick ass arcade shooter.

Choose one out of three different human characters. Each one is possessed by a spirit which will be explained later. The type of weapon you can use in the game depend on the character you selected. One of them shoots arrows, another one prefers knives. By collecting red vessels, you can power up your front weapon up to a real bullet storm of impressive size. By holding the [A] button, instead of shooting, your spirit will be released. Use your joystick to move him across the whole screen. To attack enemies using this spirit, just "paint" them while you keep the [A] button pressed. Your spirit can also slow down enemy bullets and turn them into gold coins later. (See 'Items & Scores' to learn more about it).

If you press the [B] button, a ray of magic energy discs will destroy anything within destruction range. If you keep the [B] button pressed, you can use the joystick to change the direction of the ray. This weapon is the smartbomb in Guwange. Collect blue bodhisattva images to enhance it's power and jewel items to upgrade the stock of it. The number of smartbombs you have on stock is indicated as red spheres in the corner at the top of the screen.

Let's talk about scoring: Guwange features 2 different counters: A skull meter which collects multiple enemy hits, and a seperate coin counter to rise the value of coins. The use of these counters both result in silver and gold coins, the point currency in Guwange. (See 'Items & Scores' for details)

Guwange consists of marvellous graphics and an absolute fantastic soundtrack. CAVE created a real piece of art here which can't be found anywhere else. It's like playing that Muromachi painting which appears to be the inspiration for the game. (See 'Artwork' page) and also the playability is cave-quality at it's best. Precise aiming is possible as well as avoiding the myriads of enemy bullets. And yes, Guwange is beateable with 1 credit - it's all about practice !

There is one thing you should keep in mind before you purchase Guwange: This game is completely displayed in japanese language. It's not a handicap for playing it, since the little instructions at the beginning of the game are easy understandable just by watching the pictures; but it might be disturbing for some people that the title screen and the high-score table are in japanese language as well. For the most of you I'm sure, that you don't even wish to see this game translated, once you played it in it's perfect beauty. It is exactly as it has to be.

- [the sheep] in 2002