- 1 Schildmaid MX
- 2 Gameplay Overview
- 3 Story
- 4 Accessibility
- 5 Development History
- 6 Trivia
- 7 References & Contributors
Schildmaid MX (シルドメイドMX) is a horizontal side-scrolling shmup created by HitP Studio and released on itch.io for Windows, macOS and Linux on November 4th, 2021. On March 24 2023, a full 2.0 update was released on Steam. The version on itch.io received this update as well.
Schildmaid MX will also be released to consoles, including Nintendo Switch and current PlayStation and Xbox consoles, later in 2023.
8-way digital movement, main shot, EX ability, barrel roll
Controls can be fully customized and support a wide range of gamepads and sticks, as well as mouse and keyboard.
- Shot (Tap): Fire all weapons except missiles
- Shot (Hold): Fire all weapons
- EX (Tap): Use the EX ability
- Roll (Tap): Perform a barrel roll
In Schildmaid MX you can unlock various features by earning and spending AP. You collect AP by completing achievements and the achievements for beating a boss are repeatable for extra AP.
All game modes besides the Combat Tutorial are locked from the start and can be unlocked with AP. AP also can be used to unlock different selectable color schemes for the playable ships.
Unlocking achievements also gives the player profile titles, which are shown on the leaderboards and during gameplay or replays if the player has "show account in game" enabled under options.
Aditionally, by meeting certain conditions, like beating a boss or clearing a mode with a certain ship, the player can unlock artwork displayed in the Gallery.
Characters / Ships / Styles
There are three main and one secret ship for the player to choose from.
- S-19 Wivern: The Wivern is a fast moving ship with narrow fire, two trailing options and straight firing, concussive missiles that can home in on a single enemy once the player paints it as a target with their main shot, and a massive energy beam as its EX ability. It's a great ship to quick kill individual targets with, but more challenging to control the screen with and its base shield time is the shortest and its danger state the longest. The Wivern is designed as an expert player's pick that is difficult to use while holding the highest scoring potential.
- Hydra G130: The Hydra is decidedly middle of the road on most accounts, extending to its maneuverability, shield time, danger time and screen controlling ability. Fully upgraded, it fires a wave shot and a set of four homing concussive missiles and is escorted by two options (one above the ship and one below). Its EX ability is a volley of supercharged homing missiles that cancel bullets, missiles and lasers when they explode. The Hydra is a comfortable pick for most players.
- B60-E Greif: The Greif is a slow moving, tank-like ship with the greatest screen controlling ability. Fully upgraded, it fires a large spread of bullets across the screen, as well as sets of six non-concussive homing missiles and has four circling options orbiting around it, granting it some protection from incoming popcorn enemies on a collision course. Its EX ability is an extra shield that can be used in combination with the ship's regular shield and that cancels bullets, missiles and lasers, while doing constant counter damage to the enemies that fired bullets or missiles at it.
- Chimera CH6: The Chimera can't be picked in the two main modes of Schildmaid MX and is a completely overpowered ship that can only be played in its own, dedicated mode. It combines the strengths of the three regular ships without any of the tradeoffs and its EX ability also combines the abilities of the other three ships into one attack.
The defining mechanic of Schildmaid MX is its shield system. A player's shield is activated when a regular enemy bullet touches their ship's hitbox. Depending on the ship, the shield is active for a number of seconds before it expires. During its active phase, any regular enemy bullet that touches the shield is absorbed and adds to the power gauge of the ship. With every filled gauge, the player's ship gains an extra power-up. The duration of the shield can be extended if the player chain kills enemies. When the shield expires, the ship's danger state kicks in. During this period, the shield needs to recharge before it can be used again and any regular enemy bullet that touches the ship's hitbox will cost the player a life. When the danger period passes, the cycle begins anew.
The shield only offers full protection against enemy bullets and to a lesser degree enemy energy beams. It does not protect the player against enemy missiles or collissions with enemies or background/stage objects with a red outline.
Enemies in the game use three main weapon types that interact with the shield in different ways.
- Bullets: Bullets are only a threat when the player's ship is in danger state; during neutral state, they can be used to activate the shield off and during shield state they can be absorbed by players to power up their ship with.
- Energy beams: Beams of concentrated energy destroy the player's ship when it's in neutral or danger state. When in shield state, an energy beam affects their shield duration negatively, but doesn't destroy the shielded ship.
- Missiles: Missiles destroy the player's ship in neutral, shield and danger state and can only be cancelled/destroyed by using EX abilities. They come in straight flying (horizontal or angled/diagonally) and homing variations.
Additional enemy weapon types are EX energy beams, that have the same cancelling characteristics as the Wivern ship's EX ability, green and corrupted "danger" bullets, that instantly corrupt and shut down a player's shield when they touch it and give players and almost instantly expiring corrupted green shield when they hit the player in neutral state. From ver. 2.0, in the new "EX" modes there is also a circular green contaminated area that spawns when corrupted zako are shot, which lingers in place for a while and has the same effect as green bullets.
Schildmaid MX contains a number of mechanics that go beyond the basics of the game and are not explained in the game's "Combat Training" tutorial. Most are mentioned in the hints that appear on the bottom of the screen in between stages, when that option is toggled on, however.
- Shield countering: When activating a shield off an enemy's bullet, the activation, as visualized by an electrical charge, deals 10% of damage to the HP of the enemy that fired that bullet. When that enemy is already destroyed at the time of activation, the counter damage is dealt to the enemy in closest proximity to the player's ship. When no enemy is on screen at the time of shield activation, no counter damage is saved and thus not dealt.
- Golden shield: When the player maxes out the power-up level of their ship, their shield will receive a golden color. This does not only have scoring implications, but will also add one second to their base shield time, helping greatly to make difficult links between enemy waves and extend the length of shield states.
- Barrel rolling: The player ship's barrel roll is activated via a button press and might initially not seem more than a visual flourish. It has a hidden property, however, in that it throws enemy homing attacks, such as homing missiles and tracking energy beams, off the scent of the player for one second. When timed well during movement, it can be very helpful to players in escaping homing attacks.
- Multiplier related damage: The active multiplier in Schildmaid MX is not just essential for competitive scoring; it also very gradually increases the player ship's damage per second as it continues to climb. This is visualized by the player's bullets growing in size in correlation to the climbing multiplier.
- Golden bullet juice: A hidden property of collected golden bullets is that each one adds 1% to your multiplier gauge. Scooping up a cluster of golden bullets can thus make your mutliplier raise noticeably faster.
The game features a dynamic difficulty system which increases or decreases enemy health, movement speed, reload time and projectile velocity based on player performance. Rank increases by 2 every time the player completes a stage without losing a life, and decreases by 1 for every life lost. In effect, gameplay becomes incrementally more challenging the longer a player is able to stay alive, but slightly reduces in difficulty in response to their mistakes. A high rank can also improve scoring opportunities in certain situations, by shortening the pauses between waves of enemies or increasing the number of golden bullets available to the player.
Example changes to enemy attributes* vs base values:
|Rank||Movement Speed||Bullet Speed||Missile Speed||Cooldown Time||Health|
- Note that enemy lasers fire at fixed intervals, and are therefore unaffected by changes to cooldown time based on rank.
- Green “danger” bullets from corrupted enemies travel at a fixed velocity, and are unaffected by changes to bullet speed.
The standard modes (Jaeger, EX Jaeger, Krieger, EX Krieger) consist of three loops (called phases) of three stages each, with the visual themes of the three stages repeating, but the level designs deviating significantly in each loop, introducing new enemies, stage layouts and obstacles. When reaching the end of the third loop, the player will fight the True Last Boss, which can differ per mode.
By fulfilling a certain condition, players get the option to skip ahead to a harder loop (called phase skipping), with a multiplier bonus as a reward.
Every stage is bookended by a fight against a "flagship" style mini boss.
During a run, players can also trigger the appearance of secret bosses that are fought in separate stages, via scoring related conditions.
In Schildmaid MX, the player can score points for two different actions during active gameplay:
- Destroying enemies
- Absorbing bullets with the shield
Crucially, Schildmaid MX contains a score multiplier that is only active when the player ship's shield is active. This means that significant scoring is only taking place during the player's shield state. During the shield's active period, the multiplier will continue to climb with increments of 1. After the shield's active period expires, the multiplier will start from the numerical value it was set at before this expiration, unless the multiplier has reached its maximum "saved" value possible in the current stage. When this happens, the multiplier will start from that maximum value on each new activation.
The maximum "saved" value of the multiplier can be increased by completing stages and loops/phases without losing a life and even further by skipping a phase ahead. When the player loses a life, their multiplier will be decreased by 50% (though it can never drop more than by a value of 15), but the maximum "saved" value of the multiplier is not affected and can be reached again.
Golden bullets form another important aspect of the scoring system. When the player maxes out their power-up level and has an active golden shield, bullets on screen will also get a golden color and will net triple the amounts of points when absorbed, i.e. increasing from a base value of 500 pts. to a base value of 1500 pts.
At the end of every completed stage, the player gets two major score rewards, next to an extension by one of the maximum "saved" value of their multiplier when not losing a life:
- Golden bullet streak: Every golden bullet collected in the stage gives players 2000 extra pts. If the player loses a life during the stage, only the highest of the collecting streaks is counted.
- Longest shield: Additionally, the player receives 1500 extra pts. for every second of their longest lasting shield chain.
4132 A.G.E. (After Gaean Exodus) - BRUENHILD
The planet Bruenhild in the Bruenhildian system is the only world left in the charted galaxy that's still under Gaean control. Gaean colonies elsewhere have either been conquered by the cruel Lanphereans or their complete population abducted and used as human life stock by the even more terrible Geïr. And now a massive mercenary fleet rumoured to be employed by the Red Lanpherean Empire is headed on a course straight to Bruenhild!
Bruenhildian defences are no match for this armada, but not all hope for the planet is lost! A few years ago, infamous buccaneer Naomi Lindbergh had supplied Bruenhildian researchers with an unknown, but incredibly powerful elemental energy source. And in recent months, the planet's most brilliant quantum mechanics expert, dr. Saraswati Sommerfeld, has been able to develop an advanced shield technology that is powered by absorbing and converting basic energy projectiles. The technology is still in its infancy, but dr. Sommerfeld and her team have loaded it on a small number of Bruenhildian space fighters. Tests suggest that the energy absorbed by the crafts' shields can even power their locked advanced weapon systems!
The survival of Bruenhild now hinges on this experimental technology, dubbed Schildmaid, and the pilots that will take control of the small fighter crafts equipped with it. The pilots must survive as long as possible and visit so much destruction on the approaching invaders that they are forced to abort their hateful mission or that the Bruenhildian defence fleet is able to decimate whatever is left of them.
"The Bruenhildian pilots must remember 3 things:
- The shield deactivates after a number of seconds, to prevent it from overloading. After that, the fighter craft is vulnerable until the system has rebooted.
- Concentrated energy beams drastically reduce the duration of an active shield.
- Solid projectiles or objects will still pass through the shield."
We are on the eve of Operation Schildmaid. The destiny of the last free Gaeans shall be determined in the coming days.
All graphical effects in Schildmaid MX can be toggled on or off, including screen shake, distortion, dramatic slowdown and particles. The game also contains an accessibility menu with toggles including, but not limited to:
- Simple font
- Simple UI shaders
- Show boss health bars
- Subtitles (close captions)
- Toggle to fire (on/off)
- Outline enemies
- Input display
- Missile lock animations (on/off)
- Mini explosions (on/off)
- Normal explosions (on/off)
- Player missile trails (on/off)
- Enemy missile trails (on/off)
- Missile smoke (on/off)
- Asteroids (on/off)
- Debris (on/off)
- Enemy damage particles (on/off)
- Show stage backgrounds (on/off)
- Show stage background elements (on/off)
Development started in August of 2020, alpha and beta testing running up to the release of the game with a ton of help from the community on the developer's Discord server.
The name of the game is German and translates to shield maiden, paying homage to Japanese developers using German titles or terms in their games. The MX part of the title refers to the original intention to make a smaller (mini) game, but the game has since outgrown this initial plan.
References & Contributors
- Michiel K