ESP Ra.De.

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Esprade Logo.jpg
ESP Ra.De.
ESPRADE TITLE.png

Title Screen

Developer: Cave
Publisher: Atlus
Producer: Kenichi Takano
Music: Masahiro Kusunoki
Program: Tsuneki Ikeda (Chief)
Ryuichi Yabuki
Satoshi Kōyama
Art: Junya Inoue (Chief)
Akira Wakabayashi
Atsushi Aburano
Riichiro Nitta
Yūko Nakamura
Release date: April 1998
Previous game: DoDonPachi
Next game: Dangun Feveron

ESP Ra.De. (エスプレイド, Esupureido), also known as Esprade (pronounced Espraid), is a vertically scrolling manic shooter arcade game developed by CAVE and published by Atlus in 1998. It is the first of Cave's manic shooters that is not part of the DonPachi series. ESP Ra.De. is also the first manic shooter in which the player is a flying person instead of a fighter. Unlike most other shooting games, ESP Ra.De. has a somewhat involved story and setting.

The game received two spin-offs in the form of Espgaluda and Espgaluda II. An album with ESP Ra. De. and Guwange tracks was released on February 26, 2008.

An updated version of the game, ESP Ra.De. Psi, was released for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in 2019, as part of M2's M2 ShotTriggers series. It includes the original arcade version of the game, an updated "Arcade Plus" version of the game, various practice modes, and the option of a remixed soundtrack.

For replay videos, visit the Video Index.

Gameplay Overview

Controls


  • A: (tap): Main shot. Varies by character. Power depends on how many power-ups are collected.
  • A button (hold): Same as the main shot, only the player's movement speed is slower.
  • B button: Power Shot. Fires a stream of "bubble" bullets which linger on enemies, dealing significant damage over time. There's a limit on the number of Power bullets that can be on-screen at once; initially this is 7, increasing by 2 with each shot power level, up to 15. Two of the three playable characters can angle the stream by moving after firing.
  • C button: Barrier. Bomb equivalent. Depletes some of the Barrier gauge, makes the player character invulnerable, converts bullets into items and damages enemies on contact as long as it's active. Holding the C button will cause the Barrier to grow larger and stronger and continue depleting the gauge (it gets stronger faster when consuming bullets). When the C button is released, the player will perform a laser attack proportional in strength to the Barrier.

Characters


Yusuke Sagami

Yusuke Sagami
Esprade Yusuke.jpg

• Fastest movement, with significant slow while focusing
• Narrow, linear, high damage shot
• Can fire normal and Power Shots at the same time, resulting in a unique feel
• Can angle his Power Shot about 65 degrees to either side
• Causes less slowdown than the other characters

J.B 5th

J.B 5th
Esprade JB5th.jpg

• Moderate-fast movement, with significant slow while focusing
• 3-way to 5-way spread shot with low damage per stream, but high shotgun damage
• Power Shot can't be manually angled, always goes straight ahead

Irori Mimasaka

Irori Mimasaka
Esprade Irori.jpg

• Moderate-slow movement, with little slow while focusing
• Wide, linear, low damage shot
• Can angle her Power Shot about 35 degrees to either side

Alice Master

Alice Master
Esprade Alice.png

• Exclusive to ESP Ra.De. Psi and must be unlocked for use
• Slowest speed out of all four characters
• Her shot starts off linear, but gradually fans out to a near-180-degree spread. It will reset back to linear fire after firing Power Shot.
• Power Shot behaves like J-B's, firing straight ahead.

Items


Icon Description
Esprade powerup.png
Power-Up
Increases the strength of the player's main shot and power shot.
Collect 4, 8, 12, and then 16 of these small power-up items to level up both of your shots.
Esprade big powerup.png
Big Power-Up
Increases the strength of the player's main shot and power shot.
Collect a big power-up to increase the the level of both of your shots by 1 up to 4 times.
Esprade yen.png
Yen
Increase the player's score by 100.
Enemies will drop yens once the player is at max power. Yen value is multiplied by the on-screen mulitplier up to x16.
Esprade energy.png
Energy
Refills the player's barrier guage.
Enemies will drop energy items, when the player is at max score items and is below maximum barrier gauge.
Esprade life.png
Life
Increases the player's life stock by one. Appears for a brief moment in stage 4.

Miss Penalty


Dying has the following effects:

  • Go to minimum shot power
  • Produce large Power items equal to the number of misses
  • Lose 25% of Score item counter if at maximum, or 33% if not at maximum

It may be tempting to recovery bomb in order to get back to maximum power quickly, but note that this will inevitably trigger the Energy item mechanic mentioned above, which can damage your scoring even more if activated in the wrong place. As always, not dying is best, especially since there's a significant clear bonus for lives.

Unlockable Secrets


Display chain timer

Hold the B button before pressing Start after inserting a credit.

Stage edit

Select your character with a specific button to choose the order of the 3 first stages:

Yusuke:

  • A button: Houoh High School, random, random
  • B button: Houoh High School, Shopping Mall At Night, Bay Area (ABC route)
  • C button: Houoh High School, Bay Area, Shopping Mall At Night (ACB route)

J-B 5th:

  • A button: Shopping Mall At Night, random, random
  • B button: Shopping Mall At Night, Bay Area, Houoh High School (BCA route)
  • C button: Shopping Mall At Night, Houoh High School, Bay Area (BAC route)

Irori:

  • A button: Bay Area, random, random
  • B button: Bay Area, Houoh High School, Shopping Mall At Night (CAB route)
  • C button: Bay Area, Shopping Mall At Night, Houoh High School (CBA route)

Alice: Press up or down to change her stage order, which is shown on the screen. She can choose any of the six routes.

Irori alternate ending

Hold both Start buttons before the ending sequence starts.

Secret Character: Alice Master

In any of the Psi modes (Arcade Plus, Super Easy, or Custom), complete the game without using any continues. Alice Master will be unlocked as a new playable character in these modes. She remains unplayable in modes based on the original version of the game (Arcade, Arcade Challenge, Arcade Osarai), however.

Alice is unlocked separately in Irori's Room, by completing her first Story segment on any difficulty level.

Game Modes (Psi)

Arcade

The original arcade version of the game.

Arcade Challenge

A practice mode where you can practice specific portions of the game, such as specific bosses or sections of each stage, entire stages, or even the game itself.

Getting hit will rewind time 5 seconds and activate Training Mode, where you retry and must survive the next 10 seconds to continue. Depending on the type of segment, you get a varying number of retries under which to complete the segment: 20 for sub-stage segments, 40 for whole-stage segments, and 80 for the entire-game segment. If you get hit with 0 retries left, it is game over.

There are two Training styles you can choose from when selecting a segment. Normal Training only makes you repeat Training sections once and lets you use your Guard Barrier. Sparta Training disables use of the Guard Barrier, and upon activating Training, you must complete the Training section 3 times to continue on.

Upon completion of a segment, the player receives one of three different awards based on survival performance (Guard Barrier usage and whether Normal or Sparta Training was used does not matter):

  • Gold Award: No retries (i.e. No Miss)
  • Silver Award: 1 retry
  • Bronze Award: More than 1 retry without getting Game Over

Arcade Osarai

Another training mode, this time based around completing parts you have difficulty at. When you get hit in Arcade mode, the exact moment where you got hit is added to Arcade Osarai, and when you select it, you start from 5 seconds before you got hit and try to survive for 10 seconds.

Note that only mistakes in Arcade mode will be used for Arcade Osarai. Mistakes in other modes (Arcade Challenge, Arcade Plus, etc.) will not be added here.

Arcade Plus

A remastered version of the game, featuring brand new voiceovers, balancing adjustments, and a new final boss, Alice Master.

To reduce milking, points will be only awarded for using Power Shot if the splashes of your Power Shots apply to 2 or more targets at once. Boss timers are shortened to further discourage milking.

A more difficult version of Alice Master can be unlocked if certain conditions are met. This iteration of Alice has harder patterns and the CAVE-traditional "no suffering damage while the player is invincible" shield.

Super Easy

A beginner version of the game based on Arcade Plus mode.

Custom

A customizable mode where the player can adjust various parameters of the game to suit their tastes.

Irori's Room

(to be filled out)

Strategy

Scoring


Basics

The basic rule of play is to get as many Power Shot bullets as possible in contact with an enemy before finishing it off with normal shot. This will multiply the score value of the enemy, up to x16 for all 15 Power bullets, and scale the number of items the enemy drops. By finding an efficient route right out the gate of stage 1, you'll be able to get drastically more Power items and reach max shot power quickly, which sets up the next phase of the game. You may also notice that getting a multiplier on an enemy allows you to temporarily chain that multiplier onto other enemies, and that the amount of chain time you have depends on the type of enemy you started from. This is important, but becomes a lot more important later.

Max shot power mode

Once at max shot power, non-zako enemies will start dropping orange Score items instead of Power items. These items are worth 100 points baseline, but they inherit the multiplier of the enemy that dropped them. The scaling of number of items still applies, so by landing an x16 you'll get a ton of 1600 Score items instead of just a couple of 100 Score ones. Note that chaining a multiplier to a different enemy does NOT scale the items dropped by that enemy - not yet at least.

The higher the multiplier of Score items, the faster they drop on the screen, with x16s in particular being extremely fast. You'll have to line up under the enemy before going for the kill to get all of them.

Every Score item picked up is added to a total count that's visible under your lives counter. When this reaches 200, it'll start flashing and the game will change again.

Max Score item mode

Once the Score item total count is maxed out, every enemy you chain a multiplier onto will behave as though you killed it directly with that multiplier. For example, landing and chaining an x16 will result in every single chained enemy dropping its x16 number of Score items which will all be worth x16. This is the basis of scoring. What's more, each Score item picked up adds 3 frames to the chain timer - so as long as you keep grabbing items, chains can be extended drastically even if the only enemies on screen are too fragile to handle a Power Shot.

Max Score item mode has another function. Any time the Score item counter is maxed out and the Barrier gauge is less than full, the item counter will rapidly deplete and enemies will drop Barrier Energy items which will refill the gauge. As soon as the counter reaches 0, Energy items will stop dropping, and the maximum item counter is increased by 100.

For example, you max out the counter at 200, then bomb. The item count drops to 0. You now need to raise the count to 300 to reach maximum again. If you go below maximum Barrier gauge at 300, it'll drop to 0 again and then you'll need 400. There's a game clear bonus for the number of items you have in stock, so bombing in the right places in order to empty, expand and re-fill the counter can result in more points in the long run.

Bullet cancels

Upon destroying an enemy that will drop Score items, any enemy bullets that are very close to the destroyed enemy will be canceled into more Score items and will inherit the current chain multiplier. Therefore destroying enemies immediately after they attack will result in significantly more items. Note that this isn't limited to bullets fired by the enemy being destroyed - it's possible to herd bullets from other enemies into range to get a bigger cancel.

Bosses (and some midbosses) will cancel every bullet on the screen into Score items on death. In this case all of the items will inherit the boss' multiplier. The chain extension gained from picking these items up gets carried over to the following stage, so landing a big multiplier on a boss sets you up for the next stage in addition to its immediate benefits.

Player 2 Bomb

While playing in the P2 position, killing enemies with the Barrier bomb (not the Barrier itself) will increase the chain timer. This is typically abused by getting an x16 multiplier on the stage 5.1 boss and then bombing the mob of Alice Clones at the start of 5.2, inflating the timer massively and potentially allowing the x16 chain to be carried over the whole of 5.2. Doing this is worth about 4 million points and makes playing as P2 strictly better than P1 scoring-wise.

Milking

The player is awarded large amounts of tick points per frame any Power Shot bullet is in contact with an enemy. These points are more or less constant no matter how much damage you're actually doing. This means that by hitting enemies with only a small part of the Power Shot (preferably the weak front bit), the player can gain a few thousand points per shot while doing very little damage. Combined with the game's long boss timers, when taken to an extreme full-game milking can add up to around 5 million extra points (and 15 minutes to your playtime).

It should be noted that the above is only accurate to the arcade version and not the Arcade+ version seen on the M2 home console port, which has different rules for milking.

Extends

By default, there are two score-based extends: One at 4,000,000 points and another at 8,000,000 points. There is a single extend item in Stage 4, on top of a fast moving train on the right side of the screen, right before the large plane.

Game clear bonus

  • 1 million points per remaining life
  • 500,000 points per life frame (empty or full)
  • 3,000 points * Point item counter
  • 1 million points for a full Barrier gauge (scaling down the less full it is)

Extra life frames are gained by being at maximum lives when you get an extend. Once you have them, you won't lose them, so try to get all three extends before your first miss!

Stages

The game has five (plus one) stages, each one divided by a sub-boss fight and culminating when facing a storyline enemy. Mechanical foes have a single power bar, whereas human/ESPer enemies have various smaller sub-bars, whose number increases according to the player's progression through the game. After the character's predefined stage is completed, the remaining two can be chosen depending on the button pressed when selecting character:


Character A Button B Button C Button
Yusuke Random A,B,C A,C,B
J-B 5th Random C,B,A C,A,B
Irori Random B,A,C B,C,A

Stage A: Houoh High School

   Yusuke Sagami's Starting Area
   
   Sub-Boss: Miyabi

   A mechanical walker tank. Its attacks are mainly unguided, although their intensity increases the later he's fought.

   Boss: Satoru Oumi

   An ESPer clone, responsible for the Hoōh High School Massacre. Protected by five, weaker clones, he's the first antagonist during Yusuke's storyline. The number of life bars it possesses depends on how early the stage is played, with the bar count increases by 1 for every successive stage (begins with 3 and ends with 5). The boss's difficulty increases for every destroyed life bar. After 4th life bar is destroyed, he creates a doppelganger of himself. If either unit is hit, the life bar is damaged.

Stage B: Bay Area

   Irori Mimakasa's Starting Area

   Sub-Boss: Giga Doser

   A couple of heavily armored ships, the latter carrying a large anti-aerial cannon.

   Boss: Peller Boy

   A large chopper. Two large rotors are responsible for the vehicle's propulsion. Its attacks are unguided but sometimes inescapable, forcing the player to constantly move across the screen.

Stage C: Shopping Mall at Night

   J-B 5th's Starting Area
 
   Sub-Boss: Atomic Chandelier

   A large number of enemies with greater resilience to the player's attacks, but with no peculiarity whatsoever.

   Boss: "Izuna" Assault Tank

   A conventional (albeit futuristic) battle tank, which reveals additional gun turrets mounted on the four tracks and a large cannon on the main body once the armor is destroyed. The majority of its attacks are aimed at the player's last position.

Stage 4: Wangan Subway Line

Sub-Boss: Akebono

   Two heavily armed trains enter the right portion of the screen, while various enemies walk along the carriages of the train on the left, providing distraction.

   Boss: Pleiades

   A gigantic mechanized security guard riding the tracks: as damage is dealt, parts of its armor and systems are destroyed, increasing the fierceness of its attacks. Its third form shows two laser cannons hidden within its frame, protecting the main core.

Stage 5.1: Yaksa Fortress (exterior)

   Sub-Boss: Yaksa Tank mk. II
 
   A variation of the standard enemy tank seen during the previous stages: yellow in color, fires a continuous stream aimed at the player, while a second curtain of bullets on the said further limits movement. Two of them are      fought.

   Boss: Gogyo-Kakushi

   The player is faced with the Fortress' main gate, where a continuous stream of land vehicles are spawned to attack the character. In addition, snipers line the roof, and two turrets provide additional firepower. The target is the shield projected by two ESPer clones, whose support attacks grow increasingly strong as the life bar is depleted.

Stage 5.2: Yaksa Fortress (interior)

   Ms. Garra's Private Auarters
 
   The early part of the mansion is filled with Alice clones, continuously firing at the player and creating a dynamic curtain of bullets; later on, smaller units and tanks appear.

   Boss 1: Ares' Head

   The large head of an Ares statue is psychically torn from the body and revealed to be a complex war machine, with six different weapons. Two different bullet patterns are used at a time, increasing to three after half of the    life bar has been depleted.

   Boss 2: Garra Ono

   The player is faced with Ms. Garra herself. After a brief, easier skirmish, she evolves into a winged form, increasing her firepower as damage is dealt, until actually attacking with tightly knit bullet curtains. 

   Boss 3: Alice Master 

   Exclusive to the Arcade Plus mode in ESP Ra.De. Psi. A more powerful Alice clone, and grows wings in her second phase, similarly to Garra.

Story

Plot

By 2018, Tokyo has reached its maximum extension, therefore falling prey of common problems such as overpopulation and criminality. For this reason, an artificial island, aptly named Tokyo-2, is created just offshore, thanks to the support of the shady "Yaksa" corporation, led by elusive billionaire Garra Ono, whose ties with the modern incarnation of Yakuza have not been proved. Another source of instability is given by the rising number of humans exhibiting extrasensory perception, the so-called ESPers, who are constantly hunted down by the Japanese Police force.

Unknown to everyone, Garra herself is an extremely powerful ESPer, bent on using her influence over the government and military to replace every living being in the city with clones (disturbingly enough, these ESPers take the form of a 10-year-old girl, named "Alice" and implied to originate from Garra's own DNA). Just as her plans begin to unfold, three children are forced to take action, each one for his or her own personal motives.

The story takes place from December 24th to 25th , during a 24-hour arc: each character has a specific stage which initiates his/her storyline, then culminating with the final encounter. After completing Stage 5 a character's specific ending is shown if only one player is active. If the character is Irori, pressing both Start buttons before the ending scene causes an alternate ending to appear. If two players are active, a group ending is shown.

In Psi, if the stage progress / boss info M2 Gadget is on, the player can see the current in-game date and time. The game starts on December 24, then progresses to December 25 after completing the Shopping Mall stage.

Characters

At the beginning of each stage, a philosophical sentence related to the overall plot is given. The characters have near to the same speed of movement.

  • Yusuke Sagami, a 17-year-old high-school student, portrayed in sporting gear and depicted as member of the volleyball team, whose school (Phoenix College in the Japanese original, translated as Houoh High School in the international release) is suddenly attacked by Yaksa's private military force and a squad of four ESPer clones. One of Yusuke's friends is killed by the squad commander, Satoru Oumi, whose pursuit sets the stage for the entire level. When encountered as a boss, he is seen assuming the form of the boy he killed, thus fueling Yusuke's desire for revenge. His A-attack is a powerful focused forward shot which increases in thickness. His B-shot is 45 degree to 135 degree. He is the only character that can fire the B-shot without interrupting the normal attack.
  • J-B 5th, a 14-year-old psychic assassin, trained since early childhood as part of a secret psychic squad of the Russian government. Fearing the expansion of the Yaksa's influence, he is clandestinely smuggled to Japan with the intent of eliminating every high-profile member of the organisation, up to Garra Ono herself. His code name for the mission is Black Peter Pan, however his success at assassinating a Yaksa general gets both the Japanese Self Defense Force and Yaksa's army on his trail. His A-attack is a 3-way spread shot which increases in thickness, and eventually to a 5-way shot. His B-shot is focused forward and more useful for scoring.
  • Irori Mimasaka, an 11-year-old girl, daughter of a family high ranked against the anti-Yaksa organisation "JUDGE", possibly a criminal cartel itself. After a failed assassination attempt by Yaksa's mechanized forces at the Tokyo Bay Area, she is compelled to bring their persecution to an end. Her A-attack is a medium-wide forward shot, weaker than Yusuke's; increases somewhat in range and thickness. Her B-shot is 0 degree to 360 degree.
  • Alice Master, a 15-year-old girl who views Ms. Garra as a mother figure. Exclusive to Psi, she is first encountered as the final boss of Psi-based builds of the game, however she can be unlocked as a playable character.

Gallery

See (Template Page)/Gallery for our collection of images and scans for the game.



References & Contributors

  1. GD:Esp.Ra.De, https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?t=279
  2. Plasmo, highest scoring replay resource topic https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=60767
  3. World of Arcades' ESP Ra.De. Page with information provied by the Sheep, Bernard Doria, Joerg Hofmann, Brian Grissom http://www.world-of-arcades.net/Cave/Esprade/Esprade.htm
  4. Main page information provided by IrateIrem
  5. Formatting and additonal information by NINE