Espgaluda (エスプガルーダ) is a vertical shoot-em-up released by CAVE in 2003, and the spiritual successor to ESP Ra.De. A departure from the military style present in most shooting games, Espgaluda is notable for its steampunk, fairy tale setting, along with the player's ability to slow down enemy bullets, which allows for survival as well as an open-ended, bullet cancel-based scoring system. Due to its easy-to-learn, hard-to-master mechanics and lower difficulty than most other CAVE titles, it's often considered a good entry point into the company's games, as well as into playing shoot-em-ups for score.
Espgaluda was ported to the Playstation 2 in 2004, and a sequel titled Espgaluda II was released in 2006.
- 1 Gameplay Overview
- 2 Strategy
- 3 Story
- 4 Version Differences
- 5 Gallery
- 6 References & Contributors
Espgaluda is a four-button game with five stages, no loops, and two playable characters, the siblings Ageha and Tateha.
- A (Press): Fires standard shots
- A (Hold): Fires a focused laser shot, and slows the player down
- B: Activates and deactivates Kakusei Mode, allowing the player to change the speed of and cancel enemy bullets
- C (Press): Fires a limited-use barrier attack similar to a bomb, dealing high damage and granting invincibility
- C (Hold and release): Charges up and releases a more powerful barrier attack
- D: Auto-fire for the standard shot
Gameplay revolves around picking up gems which are dropped by enemies, then using the characters' psychic powers to enter Kakusei Mode, which consumes gems and slows down all onscreen bullets, and causes all bullets shot by an enemy to be destroyed when the enemy is destroyed - known as a bullet cancel. Points are awarded per destroyed bullet, with more points awarded for more bullets destroyed. This results in a gameplay loop of collecting gems, entering Kakusei mode and destroying as many bullets as possible, exiting the mode and repeating the process.
The older sibling. Has a narrow shot which will also swivel in the direction of the player's movement, similar to the Type-B ship in the DonPachi Series, a wider laser, and a faster movement speed.
The younger sibling. Has a wide shot that covers a large area, a narrower laser, and a slower movement speed.
Instead of a strict bomb counter, Espgaluda barrier attacks use a meter. Pressing the C button will activate a barrier attack and consume a quarter of the meter, but C can also be held to charge up a larger barrier attack. Charged barrier attacks will do more damage and grant additional invincibility during the chargeup time, but will consume barrier meter during the charge. Additionally, getting hit while in Kakusei mode will activate a barrier attack automatically, consuming half of the barrier meter and preventing the player from losing a life. Picking up an energy item will restore 50% of the barrier meter, and losing a life will restore the barrier meter to full.
Pressing the B button causes the player to enter Kakusei Mode. In Kakusei mode, Ageha's laser becomes more powerful, at the expense of his main shot power - with the inverse taking place for Tateha. Additionally, getting hit will result in an automatic barrier attack, consuming 50% of the barrier meter and preventing the player from losing a life.
There are two types of Kakusei mode: one in which the player has gems, and one in which the player has no gems, called Kakusei Overmode. Regular Kakusei mode causes the following additional effects:
- All onscreen bullets turn pink and slow down significantly
- Certain enemies will shoot more bullets
- Destroying enemies will cause a bullet cancel - depleting the player's gem count, destroying the bullets they shot, awarding points, and converting the destroyed bullets into gold ingot items (for more details, see Scoring)
- Killing and destroying certain boss phases will cause a bullet cancel - indicated by a line in their health bar and an audio cue when almost at the cancel point.
Using the bullet slowdown and destruction features of Kakusei mode is a recommended strategy when playing for survival, as slower bullets become easier to dodge, and the automatic barrier will protect the player in case they get hit.
Kakusei Overmode is activated when the player enters Kakusei mode with no gems, or runs out of gems during regular Kakusei mode. Kakusei Overmode causes the following effects:
- All onscreen bullets turn red, and speed up instead of slowing down
- Destroying enemies no longer causes bullet cancels
- Enemies drop gold ingots instead of green gems
- Points are awarded continuously over time
Kakusei Overmode can be dangerous due to the increased bullet speed, but it also grants rewards. When in Kakusei Overmode, the player will constantly accumulate small amounts of points. The points accumulated are based on the player's Kakusei Overmode Level, which is indicated by a circular meter around the player, increases constantly during Kakusei Overmode, and maxing out at level four, after which the player will acquire a blue "ghost" effect on their sprite.
Kakusei Overmode Level increases faster when not shooting. A higher level causes bullets to move even faster during overmode, and the level will reset back to 1 when the player is hit.
Lastly, a higher Kakusei Overmode Level will increase the number of gems dropped by enemies when not in overmode. More gems allows the opportunity for more usage of regular Kakusei mode, which players can use for both survival and scoring purposes.
Playing the game while entirely in Kakusei Overmode is a popular challenge for the thrill-seeking player.
Increases your gem count for Kakusei mode and awards a small number of points. Destroying small enemies quickly and levelling up Kakusei Overmode will grant marginally more gems. The player can carry a maximum of 500 gems, before enemies begin to drop gold ingots instead. Dropped by enemies while not in Kakusei mode.
|Gold Ingot (various sizes) |
Awards points. The more gold ingots are collected, the more points are granted for bullet cancels, up to 1000 ingots. Dropped by bullets cancelled during Kakusei mode, enemies while in Kakusei Overmode, and in place of gems when at the maximum gem amount of 500.
|Power Up |
Increases your shot power. Dropped by certain enemies.
Increases your barrier meter by 50%. Dropped by certain enemies.
|Extra Life |
Grants an extra life. Obtained from destroying an orb at the end of the airship in stage 3 while in Kakusei mode. See Hidden Extend. Extra lives are also granted at 4,000,000 and 14,000,000 points, without an item.
|Maximum Power |
Grants maximum shot power. Dropped from the player upon losing their last life.
Extends are granted at 4,000,000 and 14,000,000 points. However, an additional hidden extend can be found toward the end of stage 3. At the end of the airship portion of the stage, there is an orb on the ground. This orb can be damaged when the player is in Kakusei mode, and destroying it will drop an extra life item. Notably, the player must be in regular Kakusei mode, not Kakusei Overmode. Performing a barrier attack while in Kakusei mode will also damage the orb, which can be useful to destroy it quickly if the player doesn't have enough gems to remain in Kakusei mode for long enough to destroy it.
Points are awarded for many actions in Espgaluda, including destroying enemies, shooting large enemies, picking up gems and gold, being in Kakusei Overmode, and having lives and barrier meter remaining after beating the game. However, the main source of points is bullet cancels, performed by destroying enemies while in Kakusei Mode. This is because the value of the destroyed bullets has a multiplier applied to it, depending on how many bullets were destroyed over the course of a Kakusei session, and all cancelled bullets are converted into gold, awarding points that dwarf most other sources.
Bullet Cancel Multiplier
The bullet multiplier always starts at 1 when Kakusei mode is first initiated. Cancelling more bullets over the course of Kakusei mode will increase the multiplier by 1 for every bullet destroyed, up to a maximum of 100. Leaving Kakusei mode resets the multiplier, so staying in Kakusei mode to destroy as many bullets as possible is key to score.
The multiplier is always increased by 1 for each bullet, even if they all come from the same enemy. So destroying an enemy that shot ten bullets will not have all bullets multiplied by ten, but instead the first bullet will be multiplied by one, the next by two, the next by three, and so on. The base value for a single cancelled bullet is 40 points. As a result, the following formulas represent the amount of points obtained by a bullet cancel:
- Cumulative cancel points prior to 100 bullets:
40 (bullet value) * ( N (N+1) / 2 )
where N is the number of pre-100 bullets
- Cumulative cancel points for bullets 100 and up:
40 (bullet value) * 100 (multiplier value) * N
where N is the number of post-100 bullets
This is excluding the points gained from shooting down the enemies themselves, as well as the points from the gold ingots that the bullets are converted into. Gold ingot points are detailed at Gold Ingots.
Cancelled bullets will be turned into gold ingots, as well as all gems collected past 500, and all gems collected during Kakusei Overmode. The point value of gold ingots varies based on how many gold ingots are currently collected, up until the maximum ingot count of 1000. Ingots will slowly drain during boss fights, and losing a life will cut the player's gold amount in half, which can cause the value of obtained gold to drop in turn. The value of each gold ingot is represented by the following table:
|Gold Ingot Count||Points Per Ingot Collected|
Gold ingots will take on a different sprite depending on which ingot count bracket the player is in. Once ingots are on their way to the player, they will always retain whatever point value corresponds to their sprite - they will not provide higher value than their sprite shows or change to a higher value midair, even if the player passes over into a higher value ingot count bracket during their flight.
Clearing the game can be a significant source of points. Endgame points are awarded for every life remaining, as well as the maximum number of lives held at any given time over the course of the game, the barrier gauge remaining, and the gold remaining. The point breakdown for each endgame bonus is as follows:
- Lives remaining: 1,000,000 points each (minimum 1,000,000 with one life remaining, max 6,000,000)
- Max lives held at once: 500,000 each (minimum 1,500,000 due to lives at game start, max 3,000,000)
- Barrier remaining: 16,000 points per 1% (max 1,600,000)
- Gold remaining: 1,000 per piece (max 1,000,000)
This gives a minimum possible endgame bonus of 2,500,000 points, and a maximum of 11,600,000 points.
See Espgaluda/Strategy for stage maps, enemy and boss descriptions, walkthroughs, and advanced play strategies.
Ageha and Tateha are very well balanced for both survival and score, so playing your own personal preference is recommended.
For survival, Kakusei mode can be used to slow down enemy bullets and ease dodging, all while protecting the player with the automatic barrier attack. Because barrier is restored to 100% when a life is lost, players shouldn't be afraid to use their barrier to survive - using up all of your barrier before losing a life will maximize the amount of barrier available throughout a playthrough.
For score, it is much better to have longer Kakusei sessions in which many bullets are cancelled, than cancelling the same number of bullets over multiple Kakusei sessions. This is because the bullet score multiplier resets upon exiting the mode, but will continue going up with each cancelled bullet over a single Kakusei session, even over multiple different bullet cancels. Due to enemy destruction consuming additional gems on top of the regular gem depletion in Kakusei mode, players playing for score should be careful not to destroy any unintended enemies. Good positioning, making the most out of every Kakusei mode through good timing, and bullet cancelling with as many bullets on screen as possible will put you well on your way to a good score!
Playing on the Player 2 side will also provide a very minor score advantage in the arcade release - see Version Differences
Going for some degree of score is recommended, as extends are granted at 4,000,000 and 14,000,000 points.
It is also recommended to try and obtain the Hidden Extend, by destroying the orb at the end of the stage 3 airship while in Kakusei mode.
Once upon a time in the kingdom of Shinra, there was a queen who passed down magical powers to her descendents, and a king, Jakou, who did not. In a period of rapidly advancing alchemical technology, Jakou became overcome with ambition, and sought to use alchemy to exploit the queen's powers to the fullest extent. He subjected his children, Ageha and Tateha, to a super-soldier program, known as Project Galuda. The queen, appalled by his actions, sealed herself and her essence away in spirit gems, but Jakou and his alchemists found a solution - to harness the stones to create a spirit engine, raise an army, and begin to conquer surrounding nations.
Hiodoshi, an elderly alchemist who was key to Project Galuda, had a change of heart, and was moved into action. He took the king's children under his wing and fled, in hopes of giving them a chance at a normal life. Years passed, but Jakou's army eventually tracked them down. Hiodoshi refused to surrender. The soldiers, in response, mercilessly slaughtered him in the children's presence. Bearing witness to Hiodoshi's death, Ageha and Tateha's latent powers emerged. Wings sprouted from their backs, and the soldiers were destroyed instantly in a burst of energy. The siblings took flight, guided back toward Shinra by a mysterious force that neither of them understands. And this is where our story begins.
Version differences between the arcade release and the Playstation 2 arcade mode are minimal. In the arcade release, the stage 3 midboss will spawn more bullets from its pod attack when the player is on the Player 2 side. The Playstation 2 version fixes this discrepancy by making both sides behave like Player 2.
References & Contributors
- Shmups Forum Espgaluda strategy thread: https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?t=134
- Story information: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/espgaluda/
- Initial article written by SLRmercury