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 Post subject: ST: Blue Revolver
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:36 am 

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Joined: 02 Apr 2009
Posts: 351
Location: Seattle, WA
Blue Revolver v1.05 Strategy Guide

1 - Introduction
Blue Revolver is the first game from developer Stellar Circle, and for being their first game it's pretty damn awesome. The game revolves around resource management and knowing where and when to use your different weapons. It draws a lot of inspiration from CAVE and Raizing games (moreso CAVE than Raizing in my opinion). The main scoring system is a chaining system, although it's a lot less strict than some of CAVEs chaining games - unlike Dodonpachi or Guwange where you have stage-long or game-long chaining, chains in Blue Revolver generally last only a few seconds. The game is often compared to Donpachi due to the short chains, but it also draws inspiration from Espgaluda where you need to fill up a meter/bar and then cash in at key points in a stage.

2 - The Basics

A Button - Primary Shot: The primary shot is the most basic way of attacking. Just like most Cave and Touhou games, tapping the A button will result in your regular shot (rapid fire) while holding down the A button will concentrate your shot and also slow your movement speed down (focused shot).

B Button - Special Weapon: Using the special weapon drains your special weapon meter (located at the bottom of the screen). Compared to the primary shot though, the special weapon generally does a lot more damage, or provides some other kind of benefit. Planning when to use the special weapon and how to refill it is central to both survival and scoring in this game. Every ground enemy in the game drops a special weapon recharge item when killed, which refills a small portion of the special weapon meter. You can also get meter back by bombing or dying.

C Button - Bomb: Every character has the same bomb, irregardless of what primary shot or special weapon you pick. You can only have a maximum of 5 bombs in stock at any time. The bomb clears all bullets on the screen, makes your character invincible for a few seconds, and does damage for a second in the spot where you use the bomb. Every bullet on the screen that gets cancelled will turn into a special weapon recharge item - if you bomb with enough bullets on the screen, you can refill your meter from 0% to 100% with just one bomb. While the bomb itself doesn't do that much damage against larger enemies, the combination of invincibility and refilling your meter should let you kill most enemies or bosses easily.

D Button - Auto Fire: This is a shortcut button for rapidly tapping the A button.

You lose a life when you get hit by a bullet or run into a non-ground enemy. When you die, you refill 50% of your special weapon meter and you get 2 additional bombs. Unlike most other games, you do not lose all of your bombs when you die! This means dying with bombs in stock isn't nearly as big of a deal as it is in other games (however, you can still only carry up to 5 bombs at a time, so if you die with 4 or more bombs in stock then you don't get as many extra bombs as you would otherwise).

Blue Revolver provides score-based extends, as well as one bonus extend in stage 3. The scores for getting extends varies based on what game mode you're playing:

You get an extra extend in stage 3 by killing the midboss.

Game Modes:
Blue Revolver has 3 game modes. The primary difference between each mode is how the rank/difficulty changes.

Normal Mode - The game is always at rank 1 or 2. In addition, there is an autoshield mechanic - if you get hit while you have bombs in stock, you will automatically bomb instead of dying. An autoshield will deplete the entirety of your bomb stock however. This is the "easy" mode of the game (although it's still not exactly a pushover if you're new to bullet hell games).

Hyper Mode - The game rank varies from 1 to 5. The better you play, the harder the game gets. This mode can range from relatively easy to pretty hard depending on whether you want to just play for survival or for score.

Parallel Mode - The game is always at rank 5 (the max rank). However, there isn't any limit to the number of extends you get. Scoring is more important in this mode because the better you can score, the more extends you can get. This is the hardest mode in the game, but if you have a grasp of the scoring system then the limitless extends can help offset the difficulty. This is the only mode you can fight the True Last Boss in.

Rank only takes affect when you're playing Normal and Hyper mode; however Rank has a pretty minimal effect in Normal so you only really need to think about it in Hyper mode. Rank is represented as a colored bar at the top of the screen; the bar increases or decreases as you play the game, and once the bar maxes out rank will increase (represented by the bar changing color and looping back to 0). Rank works in five levels:
1 - Blue
2 - Green
3 - Yellow
4 - Orange
5 - Red
The higher the rank, the harder the game gets. Higher rank means that enemies will shoot more bullets and bullets will move faster. Unlike most Raizing games or other games where rank control is a central mechanic, playing Blue Revolver at max rank is totally viable. It isn't 100% necessary to take advance to rank control; it's more of an optional mechanic if you want to make the game a bit easier on yourself. That said, it helps to have a basic understanding of how controlling rank works even if you don't plan on exploiting it.

The rank increases with most actions you take in the game. In particular though, scoring will have the biggest increase on rank. If you kill many enemies with a x64 multiplier and if you get many Breaks, you will quickly max the rank out.

Specifically, all of the following will increase the rank:
  • Flourish an enemy (rank increases more the higher the chain is and the more points you collect)
  • Getting a Break
  • Kill an enemy
  • Shoot the special weapon
  • Clearing certain bullet patterns without getting hit
  • Staying alive - rank slowly goes up on it's own even if you're not doing anything

The only way to decrease rank is by dying. The amount rank decreases is based on a few things:
  • The higher the rank is, the more it will drop when you die.
  • The more times you die in the same level, the less rank will drop with each death. The first time you die in a level, the amount rank drops will increase by 40%. The 2nd time, rank will drop by its normal level (0% increase). Every subsequent death, the amount rank drops will decrease by 40% compared to the previous drop.

In general, if your goal is to survive and keep rank low then you'll want to try to spread your deaths out across as many levels as possible; dying too many times in one level will result in negligible rank drops. This may require purposefully planning deaths in early levels to keep the rank low and to maximize the amount of rank drop that you get with each death. In addition, you'll want to limit the amount you score - any points that you get past the final extend will just result in unwanted rank increase. On the other hand, if your goal is to get as high of a score as possible then you will just have to accept that you are going to play most of the game at max rank; rank just increases too fast to manage when you're taking full advantage of the scoring system.

3 - Scoring
There are two main ways to get points in Blue Revolver. The first is by taking advantage of the chain & flourish system. The second is by achieving Breaks.

Chaining & Flourishing:
The flourish system can be broken up into two steps: building up your chain (chaining) and cashing in on your chain (flourishing). The general concept is to build your chain as high as you can with low-value enemies, and then use the special weapon to cash in on your chain with high-value enemies.

Chaining: The first step is achieved by building up your chain using the primary shot (with some exceptions). When you kill two enemies in short succession with the primary shot, you will start a chain and the chain counter and chaining bar will appear on the screen. The chaining bar will start depleting immediately; once the bar empties completely then the chain is over. To keep the chain going, kill an enemy before the bar completely depletes. Every time you kill an enemy, the chaining bar will completely refill and you will increment the chain counter by 1. The chain counter maxes out at 8 hits.

Flourishing: Chaining by itself does not get you any extra points; to get points you have to cash-in on the chain with the flourish system. When you use your special weapon while you have a chain active, then the chaining bar will turn into the flourish bar. Similar to the chaining bar, the flourish bar will deplete over time, and once the bar empties then the flourish period is over. While the flourish period is active, any enemies that you kill with the special weapon will refill the flourish bar a small amount and a score-multiplier will be applied to the enemy's base value. The value of the multiplier is based on what the chain counter was at when the flourish period started.

The multiplier you get is based on the chain counter as follows:
1-3 hits: x8
4-5 hits: x16
6-7 hits: x32
8 hits: x64

Extending Chains With Bombs: Bombs play an important part in the chain & flourish system as well. Aside from the fact that bullets cancelled by bombs will help refill the special weapon meter, bombs also completely refill the chain bar and/or the flourish bar! As long as your chain or flourish period is still active, a bomb will refill the chain/flourish bar irregardless of whether or not the bomb kills any enemies. This can let you extend your chains through sections of the games that don't have very many enemies to kill.

Another feature of the bomb is that it acts like a special weapon in regards to the flourish multiplier. In other words, any enemies killed by the bomb will have the same score multiplier applied to it as if you had killed that enemy with the special weapon. In addition, you get this multiplier irregardless of whether or not the flourish period is active or not! This means you can get an x64 multiplier with a bomb even if you haven't started the flourish period with the special weapon. With proper bomb usage, you can both extend your chain and also get extra multipliers with a single bomb.

Starting Chains With the Special Weapon:
Normally whenever you use the special weapon, you will start the flourish period (if it hasn't already started). One exception to this is if you do not have a chain started - if you don't have a chain started, then pressing the special weapon button won't start flourish mode. The cool thing about this is that you can kill enemies with the special weapon to start building your chain while also getting the point multiplier. Every special weapon can take advantage of this to some extent, but the Cluster Missiles get the most benefit - if you shoot a single missile, you can build your chain from 0 to 8 and basically get "free" x64 multipliers before even entering flourish mode! Afterwards, you can continue to use your primary shot like normal to prolong your chain, or you can shoot another missile to enter flourish mode.

You can chain bosses, but the mechanics work a bit differently from the rest of the game. You still build up your chain with the primary shot, but to flourish you can use either the primary shot or the special weapon. To put it another way: if you finish a boss phase with an 8 hit chain, then you will get a x64 multiplier irregardless of whether you finish the chain with the primary shot or the special weapon. In addition, all of the bullets on the screen will get cancelled into point items, and the value of these point items will be multiplied based on the chain as well. That said, this doesn't really come into play very often because most bosses don't provide targets to build your chain with. Waiting until the boss fills the screen with bullets before finishing it can get you a decent score boost though, even if you don't have a chain going.

Breaks are basically "secret" points that you get by fulfilling certain requirements. Most Breaks involve defeating enemies in a certain order or with a certain timing. The game hints when an enemy can give you a break by making a "boop" sound and putting a white reticle over the enemy that unlocks the Break. A Break's point value does not go up or down based on the game mode, current rank, or your chain count.

The list of all of the Breaks is below:

4 - Characters and Shot Types
Blue Revolver has two characters, Mae and Val. Each character has 3 different primary shots and 4 different special weapons. You can pick any combination of primary shot and special weapon with each character. Aside from their available shot types, both characters control exactly the same. Both characters have the same movement speed and hitbox size.

Primary Shots:
  • Power - A straight narrow shot. It does the best damage of all of Mae's primary shots and it allows for the most precision, but because it's so narrow it can be easy to run into enemies if you're not careful.
  • Wide - The rapid-fire is a wide spread shot, and the focused-shot is a wide straight shot. It covers a lot of space, but on the flipside it's unweildly for picking off single enemies.
  • Option - Your options follow your movements, Gradius-style. Its neat but its damage is low which makes it hard to justify using over Mae's other primary shots.

Special Weapons:
  • Offense 1: Plasma Lancer - Shoots a short-range volley of bullets that slightly spread out. This special weapon is easy to use and is fairly fast, but its range is also somewhat short and the damage isn't that great. It's good for leaning the game with but it can be hard to score with due to these limitations.
  • Offense 2: Hyper Laser - Shoots a full-screen laser. The laser takes a second to charge up before it comes out, and your movement speed will always slow down to the focused-shot speed. However it does very good damage-per-second and its nature as a laser weapon makes it good for picking off specific targets. It can mow through popcorn enemies and also quickly kill bosses, so despite its limitations it's quite a versitle special weapon if you develop a good route.
  • Defense: Vortex Barrier - Hold down the special weapon button to summon a shield of bullets around you, and release the button to launch the shield in front of you. The shield will damage enemies and absorb bullets, so you can use it to move through bullet patterns in ways that other shot types can't. Although you can kill enemies with the shield while it's surrounding you, this will count the same as if you killed those enemies with the primary shot in terms of chaining; to flourish you need to actually release the shield by releasing the special weapon button. A fully charged shield does a lot of damage, but also costs a lot of meter; meter management becomes a particular problem when using this shot type.
  • Finesse: Cluster Missle - Shoots a missile that explodes when it hits an enemy. The explosion lasts for a few seconds and will continue to do damage until it goes away. This shot type requires good familiarity with the game's enemy patterns to get good use out of it; however, it does good damage and will let you attack multiple parts of the screen at once. In addition, due to how long the explosion lasts this is the easiest special weapon to get a x64 multiplier on enemies outside of flourish mode (see "Starting Chains With the Special Weapon" above). Overall it's a very unique but powerful special weapon.

Primary Shots:
  • Power - A straight narrow shot. It's a little bit wider than Mae's Power primary shot, but otherwise provides the same amount of precision and functionality.
  • Wide - A wide spread shot. Overall it's very versatile - it controls a good amount of space if you sit at the back of the screen, but it also does the most amount of damage of Val's primary shots if you point-blank an enemy.
  • Option - When using rapid-fire, the direction of your shot changes based on your movement: if you move right, then the shot will aim right, and if you move left then the shot will aim left. Holding focused-shot will lock the shot in whatever direction it was aiming at. It allows for really good screen control but it can be hard to use properly; otherwise it does about the same amount of damage as Val's Power primary shot if all of the bullets are hitting.

Special Weapons:
  • Offense 1: Arc Caster - Shoots 3 lighting bolts that home in on nearby enemies. The lightning bolts generally home to the 3 enemies that are closest to you; one bolt aims slightly left, one aims forwards, and one aims to the right. It takes some experimentation to understand exactly how to manipulate each bolt to aim the way you want it to, but the bolts can shoot quite far and do good damage. Proper use of this special weapon will let you attack enemies all across the screen at once, making it quite powerful.
  • Offense 2: Hyper Laser - Shoots a full-screen laser. Like Mae's Hyper Laser, you will slow down to focused-shot speed while using this special weapon; however, Val's version of the Hyper Laser has no startup time. Unfortunately it's also thinner and does less damage. This is an easy-to-use special weapon for learning the game with, but due to it's lower damage output it has less scoring potential than Mae's Hyper Laser.
  • Defense: Stasis Field - When you hold down the special weapon button, an orb is summoned in front of you which slows down enemy bullets. Once you let go, you'll shoot a volley of bullets all around you. The number of bullets you shoot is based on how many enemy bullets passed into the orb; if there's only a few bullets, then you'll just shoot a few shots behind you, while at max power you'll shoot all around you in 360 degrees. The enemy bullets don't have to be in the orb the moment you release the button; if a bullet entered and exited the orb, this will still increase the power of your shot. This weapon is a good one for getting x64 multipliers outside of flourish mode; it's hard to take full advantage of it though because it takes a while to build to full power and the field drains meter very quickly too.
  • Finesse: Cluster Missle - Shoots a missile that explodes when it hits an enemy. The explosion lasts for a few seconds and will continue to do damage until it goes away. Compared to Mae's Cluster Missile, Val's version has a larger explosion; other than that it works exactly the same, including having the ability to get x64 multipliers outside of flourish mode. The larger explosion means you can hit more enemies with one missile. It does become harder to pick out specific enemies among a group, but neither version of the Cluster Missible is particularly good at this anyways.
High Scores
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Last edited by marus on Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:04 am, edited 15 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: GD: Blue Revolver
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:38 am 

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Joined: 02 Apr 2009
Posts: 351
Location: Seattle, WA
5 - General Strategy
Survival Routing
The most important thing to consider when developing a route is when you're going to use your special weapon. Large enemies, midbosses, and bosses in this game can absorb a lot of damage if you try to kill them with just your primary weapon, so you'll want to save your special meter for them. Bombs serve the dual purpose of making you invincible and also refilling your special meter by cancelling bullets into special weapon items. Ideally you want to save your bombs for difficult parts which have lots of bullets on the screen to help manage your special meter.

When playing in Normal and Hyper mode, you shouldn't have to do any particularly special chaining routes to get all of the extends. As long as you follow the mantra of killing popcorn enemies with the primary shot and killing bigger enemies with the special weapon, then getting all of the score-based extends by the end of the game should be straightforward. In Hyper mode, you don't want to score much more than necessary to get all of the extends, since scoring will quickly increase the rank. On the other hand, in Parallel mode there isn't a limit to the number of score-based extends you can get so spending some time to optimize your chaining routes will help make the game easier.

Scoring Routing
For the most part, your strategy while playing for score won't actually be that different from a purely survival route. In general the most lucrative enemies to use your special weapon on are the larger high-health enemies, so when transitioning from playing for survival to playing for score you can keep a lot of the same routes. The main difference will be the precision required when managing your special meter - you'll want to use special meter as much as possible to get x64 multiplier on as many enemies as you can. This will require liberal use of bombs and suicides to refill your special meter. Bombs should ideally be used in spots that let you extend your chains while also refilling your special weapon. Suicides are useful in a similar way - you will need to suicide at certain points to both refill your special meter and bombs.

You don't get any bonus points for clearing the game with additional lives in stock. In a perfect scorerun, you would spend all of your lives to refill your special meter and bombs. As you're first learning the game though, you'll probably want to reserve some lives in case you make any mistakes. Since you don't lose the bombs you're carrying when you die, the cost of accidentally dying can be minimized by liberally using your bombs so that you rarely have the maximum number of bombs in stock.

6 - Additional Resources
STG Weekly Blue Revolver Episode - This is STG Weekly's episode covering the game, featuring the game developers and Jaimers. It's a long video but it does a great job of covering the game basics if you're more of a visual learner.
Ranking system explanation - This is an explanation of the rank system by Danbo, one of the developers of the game. This is where I got most of the information about the rank system from, since I don't personally have a lot of experience with Hyper mode myself.
A practical guide to lesser known mechanics in Blue Revolver - This is another strategy post covering some of the mechanics in Blue Revolver.

7 - History
2017-01-22: Added information about starting chains with the special weapon, and on general strategy.
2017-01-04: Added information about the rank system, scoring on bosses, and different shot types.
2016-12-27: First version.
High Scores
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 Post subject: Re: ST: Blue Revolver
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:16 pm 

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Posts: 1805
I've been playing this a lot lately, and after reading the patch notes and talking to Danbo, I've learned that the way rank works changed in v1.1.

Now, it doesn't matter how many times you've died on a stage; the only thing that decides how much the rank drops is what the current rank is. Green or Yellow rank will drop to Blue rank; Orange or Red rank will drop to Yellow (also, the rank slowly *decreases* whenever you're in Red rank, so if you survive at Red for long enough, you'll be back at Orange). You don't get enough lives to be able to suicide before hitting Orange, though, so there's no way to really control the rank as of 1.1, aside from not scoring; it seems like now you just have to accept that you're going to play most of the game at Yellow or higher unless you're doing badly enough that you're not likely to clear. This also means that, if playing for survival, there's no reason to suicide intentionally; while "going for it" instead of bombing on a hard pattern is usually advisable if you're not on your last life and you're at 3 or fewer bombs on a boss/2 or fewer on a stage (you keep your bombs between lives in this game, so you might as well use your "mistake" to lower the rank instead of just using up a "mistake" in a situation that won't lower it), you should still definitely "go for it" instead of intentionally dying in every situation.

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