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 Post subject: Shienryu (Arcade - Saturn - PlayStation - PlayStation 2)
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:45 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Nowadays, we all know Warashi (and remember it 10 years after their closure) because of Triggerheart Exelica.
But before their Anchor locking Mecha Shoujo shooter took over the company's popularity, there was a game which was leading Warashi's charge. That was Shienryu.

Raiden what?, This is more than just another Raiden clone to play!

Shienryu is a vertical scrolling shooter that at first it looks like any other "Raiden Clone" you've might played before. But this game pulls an array of weapons, features and items that makes this game a more original vertical shooter starting off with the velocity curve this game pulls as we start the first enemy waves with slow to average bullet speed to a heavy increase on the speed the enemy fire, which combined with varying sizes and intrincated patterns, they're the ultimate challenge for any player to want a trial of fire in bullet hell shooting.
Fortunately, you also have the luck on your side as the items have additional effects than just powering your ship up.

First, let's talk about your weapons. Like in Final Star Force and Varth: Operation Thunderstorm, they have their own bomb attack.
VULCAN (Red Crystal): This is your initial weapon, the basic spread shot that provides a wide-ranged attack. It's bomb unleashes a cone-wide laser blast that damages anything on its path as it becomes a frontal beam.
LASER (Blue Crystal): The homing weapon of the game. Fires lightning bolts that chases enemies. Its only drawback is that the player can't fire until the on-screen lightning disappears. It's bomb fires five laser beams around the ship.
MISSILE (Yellow Crystal): A mix between frontal missile fire and homing missiles. Fires a frontal twin missile fire backed up by small homing missiles which can increase in number as you power up the weapon. It's bomb releases an explosion that covers the ship, resulting in a more "Defensive" weapon.

POWER UP (P): Unlike Raiden where picking a crystal of the same color, you'll have to pick this item to increases the player's initial firepower. If the item is collected when weapon power is full, the player will get 5,000 points. After the ship's firepower is at maximum, up to additional 3 items can be stored, which are added to the next life's firepower after current ship is destroyed.
SPEED UP (S): Increases the ship's speed (up to three times). Like the Power Up, when it's picked at full speed, it grants 5,000 points.
BOMB (B-Missile Icon): Adds 1 bomb to the player's bomb stock. Unlike any other shooter, you can stack up to a maximum of 20 bombs. Once you pick another bomb when the stock's full, you'll get 5,000 points.
FULL POWER AND SHIELD (Flashing "P"): Maxes up your ship's power and grants you a 1 hit Shield. Under the right circumstances that release an array of items.

Destroying enemies and shooting in specific spots on the screens will reveal red or blue LED lights. Red LEDs grant you 500 points while Blue LEDs give you 5,000. At the stage result screen, 1 Blue Led will be counted as 10 Red LEDs. With these features, anyone would think the gameplay of Shienryu is heavily focused on high scoring due to the LEDs and the excessive 20 bomb stock, but actually is Speed and Fast Reaction are the main emphasis of this game since the enemy will suddenly throw you fast bullets, even more than any of the Aero Fighters games, pulling one hell of a challenge that most average and some experienced players will cringe over the intensity of the enemy attacks. Speed is also applied to how fast can you destroy a mini-boss, 'cos depending on how fast you take them down, you'll get a reward of 1up or 2up, increasing your ship stock by 1 or 2. Dying has a curious mechanic in this game because during the level, if you die you'll be sent back to a checkpoint, but if you're in a boss fight you'll respawn instantly. The same goes for continuing the game when you lose all your lives. Normally, the game will allow you to put your name before the countdown, but in a boss battle you'll continue like normal, just with a "point of shame" in your score. This rule applies for stages 1 to 7, since Stage 8 is a direct battle with the final boss and sends you back to the beginning if you die. However, if you play in simultaneous co-op play, the start back thing is removed and reaching the end of the stage is much more easier.

Day 1 in the operation. It's 4:50AM *Yaaaawwn!!*
I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Shienryu was released on many consoles, starting off with the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation. On the PS port called Geki-Oh Shienryu in Japan and Gekioh Shooting King, Shienryu's "Arcade Mode" was renamed as "Gekioh Mode", and it was added several extra modes.
- Pocket Mode (JIENRYU): ┬┐Have you imagined a PocketStation adaptation of a bullet hell?, Warashi did and this is the result. This is a simplified version of Shienryu that resembles a monochrome LCD game. Even the screen was made to resemble the PocketStation accesory for the PlayStation.
- Comical Mode (Shoenryu): The same Shienryu we all know, only there is no music and the sound effects are replaced by various laugh tracks and an audience applauses the player the higher their score gets.
- Stingy Mode (Sekoiryu): Want the game to play [Expletive] on you?, In this mode the player has only one life, no continues and there are only two levels. Oddly enough, the original soundtrack is used in this mode.
- No Mercy Mode (Zuruiryu): Yngwie Malmsteen, in the song "Fury" said: "I'll make you love the pain". This game puts that in practice, 'cos it is an extremely difficult version of Shienryu as the game throws you super fast bullets, making the first wave of enemies a nightmare.
- Slow Mode (Noroiryu): Speaking of nightmares, this is like an experimental "Antithesis" of a parody shooter. While Comical Mode/Shoenryu is about canned laughs and light humour, Slow Mode/Noroiryu is focused on Terror by giving Shienryu a "bleeding cut" loading screen, a darker shading to the overall game, an atmospheric/horror orchestrated soundtrack and replacing all sound effects with haunted house type sounds. It's interesting to note that the player's ship and most enemies scream once destroyed, while some of them use wolf howls, to be exact, the one used on the dying Warg/Fire Warg from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Another major difference is the increase the number of bullets fired by the enemy despite their much slower game-speed. Ironically, this is the most difficult setting in the game.
- Ancient Mode (FuruiRyu): The same game, only presented in a yellowed sepia monochrome screen with simulated cracks and lines as well and weakened sound effects and music to create an antiquated feel.

One of the things of the PS1 port that I didn't like was that the ending was butchered. While in the arcade and PS2 Double Shienryu port, the player ships reach "Mother Planet" and they're followed by other allied fighters, in the Gekioh localization it was replaced with an empty black screen where the pilots give a thumbs up and then the credits in a more mundane way. What a way to screw up an arcade port.

Speaking of ports, the PlayStation 2 version included in The Shooting: Double Shienryu as the 37th entry of D3 Publisher's Simple 2000's series is the arcade version, so it omits the arranged soundtrack, the CGI opening and the extra modes, but is bundled with its sequel, Shienryu Explosion.

Amazing hand-drawn machinery!

When it comes to graphics, Warashi did a spectacular job, as we have a multi-layered scenery that works perfect on hide enemies and deploy platforms. Sometimes this multilayer thing is used on the clouds to give the impression of gaining altitude. Sprite-scaling is also utilized, Stages 2 and 8 are the best examples as Giant Owl descends during the boss fight and the camera zoom out while fighting Shienryu as it spreads its wings before attacking you. However, the best example is in Stage 6, where there's a huge battleship that looks more like a hand-drawn illustration from an anime rather than a game sprite. Some of the mechas from Stage 2 have that impression due to the well applied shading and fluid animation.

Musically, the game is a contender for Thunder Force since it features a hard rocking style soundtrack that follows Tecno Soft's influences very well enough to give Thunder Force some competition.
The PlayStation Gekioh Shooting King version featured an arranged soundtrack, which in my opinion wasn't very necessary for the game since the idea is to play the closest thing to the arcade.


- Shienryu was a recycle of Daioh, a shooter from Athena Co. Ltd. (Strike Gunner S.T.G. and Dezaemon).
- Some of the Athena employees left the company and formed Warashi Inc. Multimedia Lab.
- This game was Warashi's first shooter and first game of the company.
- Shienryu was called Steel Dragon in Steel Dragon EX which was the european localization of The Shooting: Double Shienryu.
- While the japanese Geki-Oh Shienryu was released by Hamster (ACA Neogeo Aero Fighters 2) and MajorWave, the Gekioh Shooting King localization was done by Natsume (Wild Guns)
- Polypus, the Stage 3's boss means "Many Octopuses" as it combines the Greek word "Poly" (Many) and "pus" from Octopus.
- The name of the stage 7 boss Bisonte means "Bison" in spanish.
- Shienryu, the name of the game and the Stage 8 boss means "Purple Flame Dragon".
- Mother Planet is actually an upside down picture of the "Blue Marble" Earth.
- The four pilot's names all translate or refer to gender-specific animals that simultaneously refer to their personalities. The names of the led pilots Herrenlose Katze and Kluger Hund translate in German as 'Abandoned Cat' and 'Clever Dog' while the 2nd player navigator Chien de Chasse translates in French as 'Hunting Dog'. The 1st player navigator's name, Felis Catulus, refers to the commonly domesticated genus of cats known as Felis catus.
- Noriyuki Takasaki, Warashi founder and Executive Producer of Shienryu will be also the Executive Producer of Shienryu Explosion and Triggerheart Exelica.
- The indie shmup Vostok Inc. features a LCD-like shmup called Vostok Micro, which is very similar to Pocket Mode.
- The player ship screaming when it dies in Slow Mode is very reminiscent of the Sega Genesis version of Action 52.


When runway battles becomes nostalgic in a Warashi shooter.

- EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY. THE TARGET IS APPROACHING. ARE YOU READY?: The boss fight with Ver'mith Aragabis takes place on a runway, just like Hell Moa in Stage 1.
- SIMILARITIES IN DESIGN: Bisonte, the stage 7 boss looks like the predecessor of Ver'mith Gharatoaga (Stage 2 boss).
- I'LL BE LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR NEXT ENCOUNTER: Like Dio in Stage 4, Faintear Imitate escapes from the battle in Stages 1 and 3.

Well, that's what we can call "Ill-Fated".

- W-WHAT? BUT WHY...?! IIYYAAAAAHH!!: Dio's demise is slightly mirrored in the XBLA port of Triggerheart Exelica when Ver'mith Ennda tries to destroy Faintear Imitate in the "True Ending" route of the game. This is also seen in the Arcade Mode of Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced. Unlike Dio, Imitate survives since the attack only succeeded on breaking her Control Core, liberating her from the Ver'mith brainwashing.
- EXERCISE IN DIFFICULTY: The concept of a very limited amount of lives, increased difficulty and no continues of both Stingy and No Mercy modes resembles the Arrange Mode from the Dreamcast port of Triggerheart Exelica.

Warashi REALLY likes purple haired protagonists.

- SEEING PURPLE: Both Shienryu and Triggerheart Exelica have purple haired protagonists: Felis Catulus and TH60 Exelica. Purple will become a recurrent color in Triggerheart Exelica on many aspects of the game.

Two different characters, same eye color.

- YELLOW EYES: Herrenlose Katze and TH32 Crueltear have yellow colored eyes, although Crueltear's eyes are sometimes depicted with a more slight orange tone.
- THE DUNAMIS-VER'MITH CONNECTION: Dunamis' AI weaponry from Shienryu Explosion have similar designs to the Ver'mith cores, although it is unknown if Dunamis and the Ver'mith are related.
- STRANGE NAMING: Warashi's "tradition" of giving strange names to the characters was passed from Shienryu to Triggerheart Exelica: Herrenlose Katze, Felis Catulus, Chien de Chasse, Kluger Hund, Cornix, Laruc, Passer, Procyon, Exelica, Crueltear, Faintear, C'r_na, Skiltall, Clau_dear, Str'n_dear Syl_f'rear.

In the end, Shienryu is a classic example of a challenging and intense bullet hell shooter that surpasses the fist two Raiden games. As the very first game from Warashi, it's really an accomplishment.


P.D.: After 8 months of playing the XBLA version of Triggerheart Exelica, I'm starting to think Warashi made a huge mistake on not remastering Shienryu and made that XBLA release a "2-in-1" compilation.
That would be great becase Shienryu really deserved a comeback or at least include its soundtrack in the XBLA and PS2 Enhanced ports of Triggerheart Exelica so we can hear it in our gameplay, just like the PS1 port of Raiden DX featured Viper Phase 1's.
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STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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