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 Post subject: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:23 pm 


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Cambria Sword -Life of Wonder- is a PC doujin shmup released in 2016 by Vagues Games (which is really just one person). Set in an alternate vision of the Cambrian Period where trilobites had jetpacks, lasers, and energy swords, it calls itself an orthodox shooter without any innovative systems. It is also a big breath of fresh air in the genre, and the most fun I've had with a shmup in years.

So what's so great about this game?

  • The most epic tale starring a flying Sarotrocercus - The first thing anyone will tell you about this game is that it's long. Like, really long. A full playthrough of all 11 stages takes over three hours, but for those of you who balk at that length (i.e. sane people), the game allows you to skip stages, allowing you to reach the ending in as little as four stages (1 to 1.5 hours). Clearly a game this long isn't going to have the tight design and conciseness of a CAVE or Psikyo game, and I'm not going to pretend that it does. There are definitely parts that could have been cut down or compressed if the goal were to make a shorter game that would realistically fit in an arcade setting, but what makes the game great is that that's not the point and it knows it.
    Cambria Sword tells a tale of epic proportions about a Sarotrocercus out to rescue its friend Pikaia from the fearsome Anomalocaris, and it cuts no corners in doing so. You'll journey through a variety of huge stages, blowing up everything in the way with big fiery explosions. This game does have some environmental hazards, though it's not really heavy on these and the bosses are the real stars of the show; think "Darius" rather than "Gradius" or "R-Type" (though I should mention that the developer has said that similarities to Darius are unintentional and that Darius actually wasn't one of the primary inspirations for Cambria Sword). There are intense sections flooded with enemies, and there are lulls in the action. There are also plenty of cool setpieces along the way, whether for advancing the plot or simply introducing enemies (which I guess is also kind of the plot). It doesn't have the range of disparate locales that something like Gradius does, but it puts you through a wide gamut of different situations, and suffice it to say that it's quite the journey.
    Also, with the sheer amount of content it's a better buy than your average shmup even if you only play through each of the stages once in practice mode...
  • Dozens of awesome bosses - Naturally a game of this length has room for plenty of bosses, and Cambria Sword is packed to the brim with them. The game dispenses with the formulaic "each stage has one boss at the end and maybe one at the halfway point," instead spreading bosses throughout the stages as it sees fit. It's not the first game to do that, but it helps the game's pacing and I think it gives an idea of what kind of game this is. Like the other enemies in the game, the bosses are based on lifeforms from the Cambrian and surrounding geological periods, and they inherit the diversity those lifeforms are famous for. There are bosses of all shapes and sizes that demand a variety of ways of dealing with them. Each boss has a set of attacks that it chooses from randomly (I think). Honestly some of the boss attacks are kind of cheap (they could use some more telegraphing) but I don't think it detracts too much from the experience, since it's mostly a risk in using close-range weapons and there are plenty of lives to go around so doing poorly on one or two bosses probably isn't going to kill your run. At any rate, my awe when playing the boss rush stage for the first time in practice mode by itself justified my purchase.
    I'll also take the time now to note the game's graphics, since the bosses are the highlight of those. The game's graphics probably won't look "professional" to anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past 25 years (the colors in particular remind me of old Windows 95 games), but they're inspired and appealing in their own way. I was surprised by how good the game looks in motion, especially the bosses with their tons of segmented moving parts.
    On a side note, despite the game explicitly stating that it's not a paleontology guide, I've learned a surprising amount of natural history from searching up the boss names and watching the videos YouTube started recommending me about the Cambrian Period...
  • Huge variety of quirky weapons - One of the other things you may have heard about this game is that it has a ton of weapons. The game's website says there are over a hundred, though I think this may be counting charged and non-charged attacks of the same weapon separately. You can carry a primary weapon and a subweapon, and there's a over a dozen "normal" types of each of those. Each primary weapon has a charged attack and a non-charged attack, and a few have additional firing modes triggered by using a charge attack while moving in a certain direction. Additionally, there are "rare" variants of each of these weapons, which are generally more powerful than but oftentimes quite different from their "normal" variants. So that totals to... a lot. Weapon pickups are given through various means but the specific weapons given are random, with "rare" weapons being exceptionally rare. The weapons span a wide range with different strengths and weaknesses; some are slow, some are fast, some pierce enemies, some don't, some fire behind you or above/below you, some only fire straight forwards, some do high burst damage, others deal more continuous damage... There's no single weapon that's good in all situations, so that combined with the randomness of weapon drops means you're forced to adapt to changing circumstances. It's almost like a roguelike in that sense, except with fixed stages so you know what to prepare for. Getting comfortable with the weapons and understanding their strengths and weaknesses is a big part of this game, and I've had a lot of fun playing around with the different weapons. The extreme rarity of "rare" weapons is one of my few complaints about the game since you'll rarely get to play with the more insane half of the weapons in the game, but the unlockable "Easy" mode deals with that by making rare weapons spawn much more frequently (this is actually the only difference between easy mode and normal mode).
    Additionally, there are several types of bombs (the type you have depends on your current subweapon), ranging from the traditional but satisfying to the hilariously impractical. Though some bombs are good as panic bombs, this game serves as a better example of how to do offensive bombs right, because incidentally the default bomb is one of the best offensive bombs in the game and it's also incredibly satisfying to use. Since there's neither any penalty nor reward for using bombs, there's no reason not to use them when it suits you, which I think is great. The game doesn't need to push you to use bombs because using them is its own reward.
  • No real scoring system to speak of - There's a distinct lack of multipliers, chaining, fancy item timings, etc. in this game - the scoring system is your barebones, run-of-the-mill "kill enemies and get points," and the developer mentions in the extra disc notes that he considered not having a scoring system at all (but he kept it in as a way to distinguish between your runs). This actually works in the game's favor: it's what allows the "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to the rest of the game to exist without breaking everything. Scoring, at least in a competitive sense, clearly was never the focus of this game; Cambria Sword isn't in the business of "balancing" things or providing everyone a "level playing field" every run, and it doesn't need to be. The game doesn't distract you from enjoying the game by pushing you to optimize asinine things in the name of raising a number; no scoring means no frustration over scoring. This is the kind of game where I don't get frustrated over some unideal luck like bad weapon drops or luck bar effects, and I don't even bother resetting if I lose a life in the first stage. And I like that.
    (Yes, you could milk everything and try to get lucky with the luck bar effects, but the mere thought of doing that in a game that's already three hours long without milking should be enough to tell you that you're missing the point of the game.)
  • The most metal shmup ever made - All of the above comes together to form what is perhaps the most badass, unexpectedly metal game in existence, and what would that be without an awesome metal soundtrack? Cambria Sword's soundtrack is phenomenal, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that. Of course there's an element of taste to this, but if you don't love the soundtrack, well, you have bad taste. This is really what makes the whole game come together and crystallizes its ethos. Not only is it catchy and thrilling to listen to, it's also quite varied, with both really heavy and intense pieces as well as more calm and mellow pieces, lending each stage its own character. The game comes with the soundtrack if you buy it on DLsite, but I don't think it's uploaded on YouTube or anywhere else, so if you want to listen to it you'll have to either buy the game or make do with the trailers or gameplay videos (some linked below). A good soundtrack can easily be ruined by annoying or unfitting sound effects, but Cambria Sword does not disappoint here either; the weapons and enemy explosions have deep and satisfying explosion effects that further cement the weighty power of your little arthropod friend. I find this quite a pleasant surprise, especially for a doujin game.

tl;dr: This game achieves critical levels of Rule of Cool, and it doesn't let petty things like "balance" or "practicality" stop it from doing so. Also, that soundtrack.

So where do I get this game?

Cambria Sword is available on the English DLsite (DRM-free digital distribution), where it is currently 20% off until July 11, thanks to a site-wide sale. The game comes with a bunch of "extra disc" contents, which includes the soundtrack (!!!) as well as an extensive HTML-format guide and collection of notes. The extra disc materials are in Japanese but are reasonably understandable through machine translation. The game itself is entirely in English.

There is also a demo, which is limited to the first two stages (~1/12 the full game's length) and a subset of the weapons. Personally I think the game really starts to shine on stages 3 and 4, but I think the demo is still a fair way to try the game if you go in understanding that what you're playing is merely the introduction to the rest of the game. It was enough to sell me on the game at least.

If you like having discs of things, you can find that here (linked from the game's homepage, I don't know anything about this including whether they ship overseas).

So what are you waiting for? Go live out the metal fantasy you didn't know you had. Go blow up prehistoric lifeforms with extreme prejudice. Go play Cambria Sword.

Links:

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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:13 pm 


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Jesus fuck, what an intro. :shock: I've not been so fired up to rescue my friends since The New Zealand Story. edit: or Liquid Kids!
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:44 pm 


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Just watched the trailer. I'm getting a "G Darius with trilobytes" vibe, from the graphics. I consider that a good thing. I might have to give this one a closer look...
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:59 pm 


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You've convinced me to give it a go!

Also the 20% on it is going until the 25th of July.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:49 am 



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IIRC the dev is working on an overhaul of the game before pushing the English version in earnest, so if you completely bounce off this game it might still be worth giving a shot down the line.

Dude's a massive Crying/Biohazard Battle fan, in case it wasn't obvious. He put out a Crying arrange album not too long ago, even.


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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:07 pm 


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Went for it on account of the sale.

GSK wrote:
IIRC the dev is working on an overhaul of the game before pushing the English version in earnest, so if you completely bounce off this game it might still be worth giving a shot down the line.


Any indication as to the nature and ETA of this overhaul? As much as I'm enjoying the game, it would really benefit from a graphical makeover.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:20 am 



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reckon luck wrote:
Any indication as to the nature and ETA of this overhaul? As much as I'm enjoying the game, it would really benefit from a graphical makeover.


It's not due for quite a while, I think he's working on a new game and the Cambria Sword revision at the same time.

IIRC he's focusing on arranging the existing content and most of the art will be more or less the same.


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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:24 am 



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This is my favorite shmup in recent memory where, by design, you can say fuck that 1cc, fuck scoring, and just enjoy the long, long ride. "Encounter with Hallucigenia Sparsa. KILL IT!"
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:03 am 


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Anyone else having the issue of config settings not changing/applying? I tried changing some settings through the KeyConfig.exe but they wouldn't save. I then changed them directly in the CONFIG.INI yet the game seems to run with default settings.

Not the end of the world as I can still toggle to fullscreen, but it would be nice to remap some of the buttons.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:24 pm 


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kaiza wrote:
Anyone else having the issue of config settings not changing/applying? I tried changing some settings through the KeyConfig.exe but they wouldn't save. I then changed them directly in the CONFIG.INI yet the game seems to run with default settings.

Not the end of the world as I can still toggle to fullscreen, but it would be nice to remap some of the buttons.

Can't say I've seen that myself - I haven't tried changing the buttons, but I did modify config.ini to turn on v-sync (TIMER=0), which fixed some stuttering problems I had (I've also encountered this in other StgBuilder games such as Ten and Till).

kane wrote:
This is my favorite shmup in recent memory where, by design, you can say fuck that 1cc, fuck scoring, and just enjoy the long, long ride. "Encounter with Hallucigenia Sparsa. KILL IT!"

I love that too, it doesn't try to be anything other than an awesome ride. There are several things about it that even seem to legitimize multi-credit play, namely that there's a limit of 7 credits, score doesn't reset upon continuing, and the condition for entering stage 10 depends on the number of continues used. Even playing a single stage through stage practice can be a decently-sized adventure, since that's still like 15-20 minutes on average.

GSK wrote:
IIRC the dev is working on an overhaul of the game before pushing the English version in earnest, so if you completely bounce off this game it might still be worth giving a shot down the line.

Dude's a massive Crying/Biohazard Battle fan, in case it wasn't obvious. He put out a Crying arrange album not too long ago, even.

Neat, I hadn't heard about this revision.

I've never played Biohazard Battle myself, but I have heard it was a big influence on Cambria Sword and the dev. He has a track on his YouTube, which happens to be the only non-Cambria Sword content on the channel.

kaiza wrote:
Also the 20% on it is going until the 25th of July.

Nice, looks like the sale's been extended by two weeks.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:16 pm 


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I'm also on Windows 10 so that may be the cause.

Although it is strange that it seems to save/load settings properly in the trial but not the full game.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:26 pm 


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Maybe try installing the game in a less-protected location, like the root of a drive, or in your user folder? Games that put their config files in the install directory can sometimes have write-protection issues if you install them under Program Files.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:01 pm 


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Putting it at the root of my C: drive has it saving/loading things properly, thanks!
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:27 pm 


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After putting more hours in, I am amazed. I've been playing video games for 30 years - I don't get THRILLHO moments very often. Cambria Sword is full of them.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:39 am 


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Gotta play this. Looks awesome for everything but one; the metal would be my only complaint, welp I suppose you get used to it while playing anyway.

I don't hate metal but I can take only moderate doses of it, and here this is too much, I actually feel it doesn't fit the game at all, as much as if it had been techno or country music imho. That sort of game with a strong visual theme/identity deserves completely original ambiant tunes, I would say in the fashion of Crying would have been perfect, so I find it odd that the dev 'd slapped like an entire album of metal on his game instead.

(There's handful of games for I have issues with the soundtrack like the two Galudas or several 2hu for instance, or battle Traverse snce it's been mentioned recently. It's a bizarre situation when you like a game but really can't stand the music)
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:54 am 


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No, metal pretty much adds to this game ridiculous identity.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:11 am 


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That's the problem when you make a radical artistic or design choice; a specific demographics will be in heaven, the rest will shrug and pass because of it.

All replays I've watched were a minimum of over 1 hour of nervous grinding noise so prominent it almost erased the presence of whatever I was watching, I'd call that a mistake from the dev really.

I'm not metal savvy, not at all, but if for instance I love Winds of Thunder's soundtrack, this here sounds completely different and very unpleasant imho.

PS: can you turn the music volume down and leave mostly the sound effets (if there are any in fact I don't know since the music is so overwhelming)
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:22 am 


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There are music and sound effect sliders in the key config program.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:04 am 


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Yeah I like metal a lot and I'm not too fond of the soundtrack at all. I don't think it fits at all, either. Not with the setting/theme, and not with the pixel art.

qmish wrote:
No, metal pretty much adds to this game ridiculous identity.


Did it need to though?

From what I've seen, a soundtrack in the style of Crying/Ecco The Dolphin/Biometal would have given the games alien seafood adventure a very interesting atmosphere and identity which would have been much more engrossing.

That's the problem with metal soundtracks, though. They can work, but you need to be very careful about the composition and style of the tracks, as well as the tone and setting into which they are placed, otherwise you kill all the drama and end up with a laughably self indulgent cheese fest.

In something like Guilty Gear's swaggering post-apocalyptic wild west, it works. In something like Contra Shattered Soldier's evil bio-industrial dystopia, the oppressive grinding works. Here...not so much.



Anyway, I need to try this. I'm still apprehensive about the length, because it'll need to be REALLY twitchy to keep my interest for that long (and I'll have to work really hard to set aside some fucking freetime to play the damn thing), but I have an open enough mind that I can give it a shot...sometime...
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:46 am 


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I played the demo a bit and so far this is absolutely not a game for me. I kinda already expected this, but still wanted to make sure my intuition was right.
The amount of content seems astonishing and promising but this is no Zanac Neo : the pacing is just way too slow for me. Stages take ages with repetitive backgrounds, the enemy waves are not that demanding or fast-paced, and the bosses are bullet sponges that all overstay their welcome.

The weapon variety also feels like a hindrance since there are too many terrible gimmicky weapons. Gimme a powerful forward shot and a weaker spread shot all day over those weird lasers that stay near you for ages and then try to rush towards an enemy to hit it but then miss it. The bosses taking ages to defeat also make your weapons feel even more powerless than they already are, which does not help.

I agree with the music complaints. While some non-grinding metal music just for the boss battles could have worked well IMO, here it doesn't fit the stages' low intensity at all, not to mention being more noise than actual melody. I like some styles of metal that have more than just super fast loud drumbeats and grinding noise in them and that's nowhere to be found here.

As an aside, I know Cambria Sword features animal species that don't exist anymore, but are there any giant isopods in the game? If there are, I would be curious to see how they are portrayed.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:20 am 


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Quote:
Did it need to though?


Are you questioning artistic choice? It's same as choosing fish/waterworld theme as setting :roll:

So, well. DEATH METAL DEEP SEA!!!

Quote:
I like some styles of metal that have more than just super fast loud drumbeats and grinding noise in them and that's nowhere to be found here.


And i find videogames overall lacking in representation of many music genres (mathcore? grindcore? nah, not in vidyagaemz, man). While you wanna heavy metal though, thats not that much often also.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:05 am 


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People are way more selective about the kind of music they like than they are with the visual contents, even shitty gameplay or script in a game will get a pass.

Problem is, even while most people can still enjoy musical genres not their usual/favourite, it's much more unlikely that they'll be okay with the more niche variants.

This here in the game obviously will be enjoyed by a specific demographics of metalheads, and exclusively them.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:19 am 


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I agree that more musical variety in video games is good, but on top of the subjective tastes, there is always the constraint of whether it fits or not. Music is something that heavily impacts the kind of experience you have with the game and if there's a mismatch between what you hear and what you are doing in-game then it feels jarring, even if we don't take taste and genres into account.

Here you have tracks that want to be fast-paced with lots of drumbeats and the heavy noise, but there are only two enemies on screen that move slowly and take ages to kill. It makes as much sense as having a CAVE TLB track play in the character select or score ranking screens. (Heh, I say that, but maybe that would be a cool thing in practice)
If the action was genuinely gripping then maybe I could give the music a pass because it matches the action and there is already so much to do in the game that it fits and doesn't distract too much. But here the music is the only thing that's a bit intense and because there's not much else to focus on, then my dislike for it is just exacerbated.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:37 am 


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Xyga wrote:
People are way more selective about the kind of music they like than they are with the visual contents, even shitty gameplay or script in a game will get a pass.

Problem is, even while most people can still enjoy musical genres not their usual/favourite, it's much more unlikely that they'll be okay with the more niche variants.

This here in the game obviously will be enjoyed by a specific demographics of metalheads, and exclusively them.


Yeah i noticed for some reason that people are more open minded to movies (even typical blonde chicks (tm) i studied with in university could watch some surreal/arthouse movies and think about it) yet niche music genres explode their minds heavily (and we're not even talking stuff like musique concrete or stockhausen or autechre)

M.Knight, ok i get your point about "action lack on screen" mismatch (though i still find idea that underwater setting needs only ambient as subjective)
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:25 pm 


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M.Knight wrote:
Stages take ages with repetitive backgrounds, the enemy waves are not that demanding or fast-paced

I expected this to be the most common complaint, and I think it's pretty fair. I'd be lying if I said that the enemy waves are a masterpiece of design; I see them more as interludes between the bosses, though even so they could afford to be more distinctive (à la Radiant Silvergun). Obviously the demo, being of the easiest two stages, is even less demanding than the rest, but you can sort of get a feel for the style through that, and it's not going to be for everyone.

M.Knight wrote:
The weapon variety also feels like a hindrance since there are too many terrible gimmicky weapons. Gimme a powerful forward shot and a weaker spread shot all day over those weird lasers that stay near you for ages and then try to rush towards an enemy to hit it but then miss it. The bosses taking ages to defeat also make your weapons feel even more powerless than they already are, which does not help.

I think it's partially a matter of getting used to the weapons and where they're good. The right weapons can melt bosses in seconds (subweapon J is especially proficient at this, provided you can get close enough to use it), and the default bomb can also be really powerful too. There are some weapons that are just bad though (the weapon you're referring to sounds like weapon 4's charge attack, which to me is the most useless in the game), and if you get caught at a boss with no weapons good for it you're going to have a bad time. For example, if at the beginning of stage 4 I don't have any weapons that can fire backwards I just commit suicide and kill the boss with a bomb.
Playing on Easy mode can also help matters since the rare weapons tend to do more damage. Unlocking Easy mode is quite difficult, though, unless you're like me and edit your score file to unlock everything, and it's still up to chance if/when you get rare weapons (your chances are just much better in Easy mode).

M.Knight wrote:
I agree with the music complaints. While some non-grinding metal music just for the boss battles could have worked well IMO, here it doesn't fit the stages' low intensity at all, not to mention being more noise than actual melody. I like some styles of metal that have more than just super fast loud drumbeats and grinding noise in them and that's nowhere to be found here.

Stage 3/9 has plenty of melody (also some other stages, but it's most prominent here, and the dev calls it a sort of "main theme" to the game in the liner notes). Also try stages 6, 8, and 10 (and the final boss in stage 10, which has its own theme). Stages 4 and 5 are probably the most "noisy" out of the bunch.

M.Knight wrote:
As an aside, I know Cambria Sword features animal species that don't exist anymore, but are there any giant isopods in the game? If there are, I would be curious to see how they are portrayed.

The closest thing I can think of is Habelia optata, but that appears only briefly near the end of stage 6 and isn't particularly big or impressive. There might be other predecessors to giant isopods but I can't remember.

Xyga wrote:
That sort of game with a strong visual theme/identity deserves completely original ambiant tunes

I can't really see this game with an ambient soundtrack. The very premise of the game is that you're this little critter that was already effectively killed in the opening but is being forced alive by the "blue eyes" to wage a war of 3 vs. 1,000,000,000 and save the chordate in distress, which is about the most metal setup I've heard. The game starts under the sea (66,666 feet under, if we're to believe the stage 1 title) and Cambrian life was almost all marine-based (the stage 2 backgrounds are actually inaccurate because there wouldn't have been much green on the land), but surprisingly little of the game actually takes place there; you blast off into the skies at the start of stage 2 and it only escalates from there. That progression, the way bosses explode into huge fiery bloodbaths (and suicide bullets that the game calls "REFLECTION OF TERROR," which if you ask me is a far better name than "suicide bullets"), and all the other ridiculous things about this game screams "over-the-top" to me and demands an in-your-face, over-the-top soundtrack to go with it.

Xyga wrote:
I would say in the fashion of Crying would have been perfect, so I find it odd that the dev 'd slapped like an entire album of metal on his game instead.

Funny you should mention that, considering that the dev also has a metal arrange album of Crying. I think the choice of metal is less surprising when you look at it the other way around, that the dev is first a metalhead who decided to make a game. You could argue that the game doesn't fit the soundtrack too well, but there's little chance that Cambria Sword would have ever been made without a metal soundtrack.

reckon luck wrote:
After putting more hours in, I am amazed. I've been playing video games for 30 years - I don't get THRILLHO moments very often. Cambria Sword is full of them.

Glad you're enjoying it, makes it feel like it was worth my time to write that wall of text. Thanks to everyone else who's given the game a try, too, even if you bounced off it - better that than the game getting ignored, which seems to be the norm for shmups these days.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:47 pm 


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I'm not a metal fan at all, but the soundtrack absolutely makes this game better. You can't be blasting through a level called BATTLE OF THE HATE to anything else.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:08 pm 


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Shepardus wrote:
Playing on Easy mode can also help matters since the rare weapons tend to do more damage. Unlocking Easy mode is quite difficult, though, unless you're like me and edit your score file to unlock everything, and it's still up to chance if/when you get rare weapons

How does one edit their file (score.bin?) to unlock easy mode and level select/stage practice?
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:38 am 


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reckon luck wrote:
Shepardus wrote:
Playing on Easy mode can also help matters since the rare weapons tend to do more damage. Unlocking Easy mode is quite difficult, though, unless you're like me and edit your score file to unlock everything, and it's still up to chance if/when you get rare weapons

How does one edit their file (score.bin?) to unlock easy mode and level select/stage practice?

There's a couple things that can be unlocked:
  • Stage select at beginning of game (separate from stage practice, you can start a game on any of the first three stages): Unlocked by reaching stage 3
  • Stage 10 in stage practice: Unlocked by reaching stage 10 (if you qualify, a choice will be given in the middle of stage 9; pick the bottom choice. Qualifying depends on what stages you've completed and how many credits you've used, explained in more detail in the extra disc)
  • Ending in stage practice: Unlocked by reaching the ending (either on stage 9 or stage 10, they're the same ending)
  • Easy mode: Unlocked by getting all nine "1-point items" in a single game. Each of stages 1-9 (not including 6+) has an item hidden somewhere, usually invisible, that gives 1 point if you trigger it (yes, this goes entirely against the convention of using the one's digit to track continues, while the rest of the game follows it). The locations are described in the extra disc and are also all shown in the full replay I linked in the opening post.
Stage practice can be accessed after you unlock stage select, by holding down in the "stage 2" section at the initial stage select screen. All the other unlocks, including Easy mode, are accessed through stage practice.

After I unlocked stage select, I compared my score.bin file to a fresh score.bin file in a hex editor and found that there was a byte changed from "00" to "02" near the beginning of the file (before all the scores are listed) to indicate the unlock. I unlocked the rest by changing some of the surrounding bytes to 02 (this was just trial and error). I can share an empty score file with everything unlocked when I get the chance (probably next week).
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:19 am 


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I think I got it - is this everything?


Am I imagining things, or do you sometimes get different/stronger versions of a primary weapon? E.g. sometimes the common missile weapon (6 I think) shoots a lot of weaker missiles, or 2 stronger ones, uncharged. And here in the playthrough, they pick up weapon 11, but it's a super ramped up version.
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 Post subject: Re: You really need to play Cambria Sword
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:41 am 


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reckon luck wrote:
I think I got it - is this everything?


Am I imagining things, or do you sometimes get different/stronger versions of a primary weapon? E.g. sometimes the common missile weapon (6 I think) shoots a lot of weaker missiles, or 2 stronger ones, uncharged. And here in the playthrough, they pick up weapon 11, but it's a super ramped up version.

Yeah, that's it.

The ramped-up version of weapon 11 you see in that playthrough is the rare variant. If a weapon pickup has a flashing white border around it, it's the rare version. They have a very low chance of spawning in normal, but a much higher chance in easy mode (this is the only difference between normal and easy). Regarding weapon 6, I think you're also describing the rare variant (the normal version's uncharged attack shoots a bunch of weak, slow missiles, while the rare version's uncharged attack shoots a smaller number of fast, stronger missiles).

By the way, some of the weapons have alternate attacks depending on the direction that's held while using the attack. For example, weapon 10's charge attack is a blue wave that travels forward slowly, but if you hold left+down before pressing the shot button it'll release a big, fast-moving fireball instead. These are all described in the extra disc but it took me a little while to understand what it wanted me to do.
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