Title: Castle of Shikigami 2
Developer: Cosmo Machia
Release Date: December 8, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Castle of Shikigami 2 has a long history in the shmup genre. The game has seen releases across console and arcade, but the series never caught on in the west. It could be because of the terrible cover art of the first entry, strangely titled Mobile Light Force 2 in the west.
Whatever the reason, its obscure place in the shmup community stands. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a game to experience. With publisher Degica at the helm of the Steam release of Castle of Shikigami 2, we get the best version of this game with updated localization and modes.
Castle of Shikigami 2 is a shmup with a general setup. First, you jump into an Arcade Mode where you choose one of seven characters and jump into the story. The narrative doesn’t really explain itself in detail, but the game is set in 2006 after a strange castle named Shikigami hovers over Tokyo. This tower is home to gods, and it’s up to these characters to traverse it and save the world.
Each character has their own event scenes with the God characters. They have a unique interaction before and after the battle that changes slightly depending on which mode you play through. However, this updated localization makes the conversations much easier to follow, and the Japanese dub fits perfectly. I know some fans might miss the ridiculous localization from the original release, but I’ve got to tell you that times have changed, and those memes exist, so it’s time we get the real thing now.
The game is also a complete co-op experience, with many modes offering players the option for local co-op. Unfortunately, I don’t have friends, so it doesn’t do much good for me, but it’s still a nice feature to have for a shmup as it allows players the chance to fight for a high score in a semi-cooperative experience.
The brings me to the Change Mode, where a single player can switch between characters and play through the campaign. This is notable because it features two-player exclusive events where the characters interact with the bosses. Although it’s possible to turn the events off, I really liked the illustrations for the characters. Further, the bosses appear disheveled and upset after being defeated, which is a nice touch.
I think the Entry Mode is where I found the most enjoyment post-game as it switches up the entire enemy placement and rhythm of the stages. This extends into the boss encounters, making it feel like a completely different game that can vary differently depending on which difficulty you play on.
Castle of Shikigami 2 is a pretty straightforward shmup. The level environments aren’t extravagant or memorable, but the stages are enjoyable and escalate in difficulty throughout. Each character has three different abilities, with unique shooting spreads and magic. This really keeps players on their toes to master the game in different ways.
One of the best features of this game is that it has so many options for the player to take advantage of during encounters. The hit-boxes are gracious, with more power granted to shots the close you get to enemy projectiles. Further, some enemy shots can be destroyed, and since the stages are mostly dark environments, the colorful bullets show up nicely on the screen.
Graphically, I feel like Castle of Shikigami 2 could have received more quality. There are HD options, but playing in full screen on a 4k monitor saw some screen tearing. Still, the character illustrations looked great, and the option to play in vertical mode was a nice feature.
Castle of Shikigami 2 has always been an obscure title in the shmup genre, but this new release shows it at its best. I enjoyed the added modes that go beyond a simple Arcade Mode, and the updated localization makes it easier to take this title seriously. Of course, the challenge is high in the later levels, but this is one shmup that I’m glad to see thriving in this new generation.
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