Shikigami no Shiro 3
Shikigami no Shiro 3 (式神の城 III), also known as Castle of Shikigami 3 or Shikigami no Shiro Episode-3, is the third main installment in the Shikigami no Shiro series. Co-developed by AlfaSystem and Skonec (developers of Psyvariar 2 and Homura), this game was initially released for the Taito Type-X arcade board in 2005, and then received multiple home ports on PC, X360, and Wii. The Wii port was localized by Aksys Games for the NA region. It was also supposed to be released by pQube for the PAL market, but this release ended up being cancelled.
This game keeps most of the mechanics from the previous entries and also adds several new characters, as well as a brand new Hi-Tension Max system, which is similar to a hyper mode. This new mechanic and the more generous extend thresholds change the game's scoring dynamic from a primarily graze-based affair to a resource management-oriented playstyle with cycles of self-destructs for bombs and then consecutive Hi-Tension Maxes for score.
- 1 Gameplay Overview
- 2 Version Differences
- 3 Unlockable Secrets
- 4 Misc. tips and info
- 5 Trivia
- 6 References
- 7 Story
- The game is played with an 8-way stick and 4 buttons. (Diagonal movement is not normalized in arcade-compliant settings)
- Two people can simultaneously play
- The default extends are : first at 200 mil, then one very 400mil
- Each player can only carry 3 lives and 5 bombs at the same time. They start a run with 3 lives and 3 bombs.
- The game features 5 stages and no loops
- A full run lasts around 30 minutes
- A (Tap): Shot
- A (Hold): Shikigami
- B: Bomb
- A+B (Simultaneous Tap): Hi-Tension Max
- C (Hold): Shot
- D: Hi-Tension Max
- Since the shikigami button also acts as a shot button when tapped, immediately holding A will still make the player character fire a few shots before summoning their shikigami.
- The arcade version of the game does not have C and D activated by default. Go in the service mode menu and activate C and D from there.
- As holding C simulates A tapping, it is likely that pressing B to bomb while C is still being held will instead activate a Hi-Tension Max because of the game actually registering an A+B input where the A is being simulated by C. There is no option to disable the A+B input entirely, so letting go of C when pressing B is recommended. This is fixed in the PC port but not the Wii version.
- The console ports feature a mode named Dramatic Change Mode which allows the player to switch between two characters on-the-fly. Another dedicated button will be required in order to perform said character switching.
While the specific behaviors of each character's weapons can differ a lot, every character in the game (save for one exception concerning Munchausen) has a similar toolset at their disposal, with a shot, tension shot, shikigami and bombs.
When tapping the shot/shiki button or holding the dedicated shot button, the player character will fire a normal shot. Most of the shots have straightforward movement, but some have homing or adjustable angle properties.
When the player gets close to a hazard while using the shot, said shot will change into a powered up red-colored version. This is the tension shot.
Tension shots' additional damage can be useful in order to destroy enemies faster, and can be part of survival strategies. However the tension shot requires continuous grazing of a hazard to stay active, which also presents a risk.
By holding the shot/shiki button, the player will summon a shikigami. Depending on the player character, the shikigami can take many different forms such as a familiar that will auto-attack enemies, a laser beam, a shield that reflect bullets, floating swords, etc. Most of the characters move more slowly when using the shikigami but this is not the case for everyone.
The behaviors of the shikigami are much less standard than the shots, but they are the key to scoring efficiently. Some characters' shikigamis (such as the aforementioned shield) can also be very useful for survival.
Each playable character can choose between two types of shikigamis. Most of the characters have two variations on a similar weapon type, however some of them feature more pronounced differences between their two shikigami types. The shikigami choice is done before starting a run and cannot be changed through the run.
Bombs are powerful attacks with limited use counts that can be activated in order to save oneself from a hairy situation. They instantly cancel every bullet on screen, provide invincibility to the player, and inflict heavy damage to enemies they hit.
Each playable character has a different bomb type, with distinct duration, range, visuals and effects. Munchausen is the only character without a bomb, in its place is a teleport move which does not consume any of the bomb stock.
The player starts with 3 bombs, and 5 can be simultaneously carried at max. A new bomb is awarded every time they get an extend or lose a life.
For player-related information, the following locations apply to the 1P side. Mirror them for 2P side.
- Bottom left's top rectangle row : Player bombs
- Bottom left's bottom rectangle row : Player lives
- The leftmost empty rectangle for both bomb and life counts progressively fills to show score progress towards the next extend+bomb. However, there is no partial life/bomb in this game.
- Bottom left's yellow text : x8 action count. Number of times the player collected a coin or killed an enemy with a x8 multiplier active. This counter is reset after every boss.
- Top left corner number : Player score
- Top left corner red bar : Hi-Tension max gauge (only visible when using a Hi-Tension Max)
- Top purple bars : Boss HP bars (only visible when fighting bosses)
- Top middle white number : Remaining seconds before boss timeout (only visible when fighting bosses)
Shikigami no Shiro 3 features 10 different characters, each having two different shikigami variations. This brings the total of different playstyles to 20.
For details on each individual character, refer to https://shmups.wiki/library/Shikigami_no_Shiro_3/Characters or click on the specific character in the list below :
|Reika Kirishima||Kohtaro Kuga|
|Emilio Stanburke||Roger Sasuke|
|Kim Mihee||Fumiko Odette Van Stein|
The game's 5 stages are divided into two halves, each half having one stage portion and one boss. For instance, Stage 1 has 1-1 Stage, 1-1 Boss, 1-2 Stage, and 1-2 Boss. The ports' practice modes respectively refer to those 4 subdivisions as Area1, Boss1, Area2, and Boss2.
The first boss in a stage will be a mechanical boss with destructible parts, while the second boss will be a human character without destructible parts. Those character boss fights can also be preceded with short dialogues if the story segments have been activated.
5-1 and 5-2 are exceptions to the formula. 5-1 Boss features both a human boss and a mechanical boss back-to-back. 5-2 does not feature any stage portion and throws the player directly into a multi-part boss fight.
Each of the game's boss fights require the player to empty multiple life bars within the time limit. The time limit is a global per-boss one rather than per-life-bar. Additionally, there is no individual lifebar timeout and the only way to progress from a phase to another is to empty said lifebar.
If time runs out while the boss is still alive, a specific sound effect will play and red invincible timeout Oni will start spawning. These flaming heads will try to chase the player around, and spawn in larger and larger amounts. Eventually, the boss will self-destruct on its own.
[VIDEO SHOWCASE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y-S9pX-hlg ]
If the player game overs, the Oni will despawn. If a Continue is used, the timeout Oni will not reappear. The boss will still self-destruct as usual after some time.
[VIDEO SHOWCASE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MGhhL2OpzU ]
An exception to the Oni spawning when a boss is timed out are the shorter timed segments within 5-2 boss. While destroying the boss part before the 30 seconds are up will make the game proceed as usual, timing it out will make the part immediately self-destruct and also make the game move on to the rest of the fight instead of spawning the Oni.
[VIDEO SHOWCASE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jySumPv91Ks ]
End of stage
At the end of each stage, the player will be granted a Class. This letter-based rank evaluates player performance and can range from F to A and then S and SS. The class will be prefixed with a minus sign in case the player game-overed and then used a Continue.
Scoring well in Shikigami no Shiro 3 mainly relies on two factors : keeping a tension multiplier at x8, and collecting coins whose base value can be increased up to 10 000.
Tension Bonus System
The tension bonus is a score multiplier going from x1 to x8 which gets applied to any score bonus the player can get, with the exception of post-boss bonuses. It can affect enemy kills, boss part/phase destruction, and collected coins' value.
This multiplier increases depending on the player's proximity with a hazard : bullet, laser, wall, or an enemy itself. The closer they are, the higher the tension multiplier will be for any score action (kill, coin collect) that occurs at that same time. Continuously grazing the same hazard for multiple score actions is also perfectly fine, as there is no limit to how many times said hazard can provide tension multipliers.
The tension multiplier also affects the specific amount of coins that are spawned from enemies/bosses.
Whenever an enemy, boss part, or boss phase is killed with your shot or shikigami attack, the game will spawn coins. If the shot was used, the amount of coins will be the set base amount defined for the enemy or boss in question. If the shikigami was used, the amount of coins spawned will be multiplied by the tension bonus multiplier. However, any kills gotten through bomb use will not spawn any coins at all.
These coins will then be auto-collected and increase the player score. The initial base coin value is 10, and every collected coin that was spawned thanks to a Shikigami attack will increase the base coin value by 10, up to a maximum base value of 10 000. Coins spawned with the shot attack will simply not increase the base coin value. The coin value carries over from stage to stage.
The actual value for each collected coin uses this base value and can then also be affected by the tension multiplier. Whenever a coin is collected, a small text will appear above the player character that indicates the base coin value and tension multiplier. (Thus, the max that's shown will be "10 000 x8") If the tension multiplier is at x8, the text will be red. Otherwise, it will be blue if the coin was spawned with a shikigami attack, or purple if it was a shot attack.
Whenever the player gets hit, the base coin value drops back to 10, no matter the current base value of coins. The player also visibly drops some coins which slowly fall off the screen, which can be collected again for points by touching them. Dropping coins does not decrease the score nor make the player lose the points said coins initially gave.
Hi-Tension Max (HTM)
New to Shikigami no Shiro 3 is the Hi-Tension Max. This novel mechanic works akin to a hyper mode and requires a bomb in stock to be triggered since it consumes one upon activation. The HTM will temporarily make the player be at maximum tension multiplier and get access to the tension shot regardless of their proximity with enemies or bullets. Any enemy destroyed or coin collected will therefore be at x8 multiplier for the duration of the HTM.
Additionally, when an enemy is killed during HTM, the amount of coins it spawns is being multiplied by x1.5 . Since the x8 tension multiplier also multiplies said amount of coins for shikigami kills, the player spawns 12 times the amount of coins in this scenario.
An HTM activation will spawn a visual circular red effect around the player for approximately a second. The player is invincible during said activation animation, and as such it is possible to include this property into routing, as to bypass a wall or wave of bullets and get closer to some enemies before killing them at max tension for example.
[VIDEO SHOWCASE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bijd6a9xSvc ]
However, if the player uses an HTM while being near the end of a post-death invulnerable state, this 1-second long invincibility period can be cut short by the post-death state ending during said second.
[VIDEO SHOWCASE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE9ArnSqMV8 ]
If the player uses a normal bomb while its HTM is already active, the HTM timer will freeze while the bomb is being used, and it then resumes.
A second HTM cannot be triggered if one is already active
When reaching a boss or killing one with an HTM active, the game will prematurely stop it right after the kill. The properties on tension multiplier and coin spawning still apply to the boss kill, but not necessarily on the coin collection if it occurs afterwards.
Bonus enemy waves
The game's stages feature a slight caravan element to them : by killing enemy waves quickly, it is possible to trigger the next waves faster, and thus more score that can be gotten from a stage portion. This behavior can be seen in all stages except 3, since the existence of walls makes the enemy placement fixed instead of dynamic.
General scoring loop
In order to score high, the recommended strategy is to self-destruct twice at the beginning of the game to get two more bombs, and then continuously use the bomb stock as Hi-Tension Maxes while quick-killing enemies. This will grant optimized point counts for the waves and replenish the lost lives through score extends. Upon reaching the end of a boss, the player should self-destruct any excess lives they have gotten right before killing said boss in order to replenish the bombs as much as possible and repeat the cycle of continuous Hi-Tension Maxes in the next stage or stage portion.
Grazing bullets/enemies while killing enemies and collecting coins, just like the previous Shikigami games, can still be important during moments where the HTMs aren't used such as some bosses.
The game's playing configuration can be modified by changing the difficulty and/or by changing the game modes. Difficulty settings were already available in the original arcade release while game modes are new tweaks introduced in the home ports.
Easy features toned down attack patterns and triggers an autobomb when the player is hit. However, there is no bomb restore when the player is hit, and the game ends after stage 3 is completed.
Other tweaks to the level-design also make the stages themselves easier. For instance, stage 3 walls are less dense and the moving walls are slower, and some enemies have been removed.
Arcade is the regular arcade difficulty and the default choice when starting a run
Extreme is a difficulty setting where every enemy or boss part killed will spawn revenge bullets on the player. Additionally, bosses will routinely fire a fast aimed spread shot on top of their regular attack patterns.
Several levels of Extreme exist : 1, 2, and 3. Each of those increase the amount of revenge bullets and the speed at which those revenge bullets and the additional boss bullets are fired.
The game's home ports feature a "Game Mode" setting in its options. The two choices are "Arcade Mode" and "Director's Mode". While Arcade Mode matches the original arcade game, Director's Mode adds a lot of smaller tweaks to the game, some aesthetic/QoL, some directly affecting the scoring. As a result, players who want to submit scores that can match the arcade version should select "Arcade Mode", whereas Director's Mode can be used for a smoother, more polished and accessible experience.
This choice is independent from the difficulty selection, therefore it is possible to freely combine difficulty selection and Arcade/Director modifier selection.
Here are the known changes that Director's mode provides :
- The HUD disappears in Director's Mode if you are on top of it instead of hiding your character like in Arcade.
- Director Mode allows you to move your character and hitbox much closer to the screen edges' horizontal sides than the Arcade Mode.
- The diagonals in Director's Mode are normalized, which isn't the case in Arcade Mode.
- Yellow wall blocks in stage 3 are changed to a darker shade of orange in Director's mode, which helps seeing them better even when hidden.
- Killing enemies and bosses give you more coins in Director's mode. The coin spawning animation is also different as Director's mode has them more spread out, versus the more packed coin stacks in Arcade.
- On-screen bullets are not canceled when a boss is killed in Director's Mode so the player can more easily get the x8 on the coins. The player is still granted invincibility as soon as the boss dies.
- The final phase of 5-1 boss is worth 100 mil points, which means a x8 can replenish 2 lives and refill 2 bombs. It's worth absolutely nothing in Arcade Mode.
[VIDEO SHOWCASE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI9flIiGnZg ]
More may exist.
Additional game modes
Modes are alternate ways to play that have been added in the Wii and X360 ports. (They are not available on the PC version) The choice between modes is decoupled from difficulty selections such as Easy /Arcade/Extreme and the Arcade/Director's Mode choice, and thus can be combined according to player preference.
These bonus modes are 1-player only
Dramatic Change Mode
Dramatic Change Mode is a feature which allows you to play as two characters instead of only one. Contrary to double play modes one can find in some other shmups, here the two characters are not simultaneously displayed on screen. Instead, the player can assign a dedicated button to switch from one to the other, and then use that to freely change between the two characters during the run.
There are only a few specific moments when characters can't be switched :
- While a bomb or Hi-Tension Max is active
- Whenever the current character is invincible, either due to boss spawn/kill animations, post-damage recovery invincibility, or the initial invincibility when entering a stage
The character dialogue that occurs in Dramatic Change Mode is exactly the same as the dialogue that would be triggered with two players, so this mode can be used to see said dialogue without a second person or controller available.
While 2P runs have each player get their own stock of lives and bombs, Dramatic Change Mode has a shared stock. Both scenarios have a single, combined score.
At the end of the run, the regular score tally screen will be shown, however the score will not be permanently saved in any in-game leaderboard.
This mode lets a player consecutively fight every boss in the game in the order in which they are fought in the regular game.
The arcade mode features a few unlockable settings hidden behind specific codes.  All of these unlockables are immediately available in the ports with minor or no specific input requirements.
Immediately after entering the test mode, enter the following commands within 10 seconds :
|→, ↓, ↓, 1P start, ↑, ←, ↓, ↓, →, 1P start, ←|
If you successfully enter the command, you will be able to select and use a hidden character in the "Game Settings" menu. The effect is permanent.
If you make a mistake in entering the command, you will need to restart the test mode and enter the command again.
Once the character unlock code has been entered and the setting has been switched on, Munchausen can be selected on the character select screen by putting the cursor on Fumiko and pressing down. This will switch from Fumiko to Munchausen.
Pressing down on Fumiko is also needed on the PC version, however there is no need to enter any code beforehand. In the Wii and X360 ports, Munchausen is immediately available for selection without any manipulations nor codes and as such isn't a secret character in those versions.
Besides, due to the required manipulation on the character selection screen on the Arcade and PC versions, it is not possible to play a co-op run with one player as Fumiko and the other one as Munchausen there.
The game features an alternate soundtrack known as the S3-Mix where stage themes are replaced by remixes of their Shikigami no Shiro 2 equivalents. All boss themes remain the same as the original Shikigami no Shiro 3 soundtrack.
In the arcade version, this mix is accessed by holding A+B when pressing start to begin the credit. In the home ports, the mix is one of the options the player can freely choose from when starting a run.
In order to access Extreme difficulties on the arcade version, the player needs to input the following series of inputs on the title screen, after having inserted a coin :
|↑, A, ↓, ↓, ←, →, ↑, ↓, B, B, A, A+B|
A sound cue will confirm the code has been validated. With Extreme difficulty on, the option to choose it will replace the Easy difficulty when the credit actually starts.
It is also possible to access Extreme 2 and Extreme 3 by pressing A+B again on the title screen once the Extreme code has been validated.
Misc. tips and info
- 2-2 Boss's first phase features a pattern with giant two-handed spinning blades. The handle in the middle of each blade is actually harmless and can be crossed safely when dodging the attack.
- As per Shikigami no Shiro tradition, stage 3 features walls. In this installment of the series, the walls are almost invisible (but still dangerous in that state) by default, and the player has to hit specific lanterns scattered through the stage to temporarily uncloak them.
- When clearing one of a boss' lifebars with the shot or shikigami, coins will be spawned. It is possible to get a x8 multiplier on said coins by staying close to the boss when collecting them. However, this can not work in Arcade Mode for the boss' last phase since the boss hitbox gets disabled afterwards and all the on-screen bullets get immediately canceled.
However, a trick allows you to get said last lifebar coins with the max multiplier. By positioning yourself on top of the coin spawn point, located on the boss itself, the coins will be instantly collected when killing the boss, and the multiplier will be the one active when dealing the finishing blow. Instantly collecting the coins requires the player to be in its invincible state since that's the only way to be on top of the boss without getting collision damage, and getting the x8 multiplier needs the boss to fire a hazard that can be grazed.
Given the requirements, this trick should be done right after self-destructing on the boss' last lifebar and by finishing off the boss while the post-hit invincibility is still active. The self-destruct down to one life is something the normal score routes will do anyway since they replenish bombs that can be used as HTMs for the next stage, so no score potential loss should occur when setting up this technique.
[VIDEO SHOWCASE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADrmNZZlfyA ]
- Pressing Start on the character selection screen will display a marker for the hitbox location. This marker is only seen in that screen and will not be carried over to the run itself. It is still possible to see the hitbox during the game as it will shine and show its size whenever the player's tension is high (either due to being close to danger, or by having an active HTM), regardless of having pressed Start or not in the character selection screen.
- In the original arcade release's art, Nagino Ise's backpack prominently features the Bubble Bobble dragon and logo. This reference has been edited out of the console ports, except for the key art that was used for the JP Wii cover and X360/Wii booklet cover which shows Reika and Nagino. In it, the Bubble Bobble logo can be faintly seen, partially hidden by Nagino's hair. Additionally, the initial concept art for Nagino Ise had the entire backpack be in the shape of Bub.
- Reika Kirishima originally comes from the 1985 Laserdisc game Time Gal. Her time freeze bomb is a reference to it, and Reika's dialogue also makes a reference to directional arrows that were used as QTEs in her original game.
- Near the very start of stage 1-1 is a brown robot resting in the background, on the left side of the screen. This robot is a reference to Triangle Service's Trizeal, in which a similar robot lays dormant in stage 2. However, the original robot can wake up and throw a rock at the player which can be juggled for bonus points, whereas the Shikigami no Shiro 3 variant is a purely aesthetic cameo.
- Alfa System's official Shikigami no Shiro 3 website : http://www.alfasystem.net/game/shiki3/
- Arc System Works (JP Wii/X360 version publisher) website : https://www.arcsystemworks.jp/shikigaminoshiro/
- Archived version of the Cyberfront (JP PC version publisher) page : https://web.archive.org/web/20090105072646/http://www.cyberfront.co.jp/title/shikigami3/index.html
- Archived version of the Aksys Games (US Wii version publisher) website : https://web.archive.org/web/20081211204124/http://aksysgames.com/shikigami/
- JP Wikipedia page on the Shikigami no Shiro series : https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%BC%8F%E7%A5%9E%E3%81%AE%E5%9F%8E
- Dedicated page on the Shikigami no Shiro wiki : https://shikigaminoshiro.fandom.com/wiki/Shikigami_no_Shiro_III
- JHA scoreboard : https://wiki.denfaminicogamer.jp/highscore/2006_032_%E5%BC%8F%E7%A5%9E%E3%81%AE%E5%9F%8EIII
- System11 scoreboard : https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=18288
- Restart Syndrome scoreboard : https://www.restartsyndrome.com/board.php?id=191
- hiscores.shmup.com board : https://hiscores.shmup.com/games/136
List of official superplay materials
[First half from Aksys website, second half is machine translation]
The story takes place in a small country called Alcaland, in Mid-Eastern Europe.
Alcaland is populated by an ethnic group called Majar. Other inhabitants include German, Slav, and Hebrew, among many others. This small country (about the size of Delaware), was once annexed by the Soviet Union; however it gained independence in 1992. A beautiful country that has radiant lakes and wheat fields that shine in the sunset; its major industries are pasta and livestock.
The 1.84 million denizens of Alcaland are ruled by a constitutional monarchy (similar to Sweden).Since this country has little economic worth, it has no relations with Japan. While it does have its own borders, it is a desolate country that only has a consulate in neighboring Apfelland and relies on electricity from Russia and Bostonia. Alcaland is a backcountry, but put nicely, it's a quiet, forgotten kingdom.
However, the peace has been disturbed due to a recent series of disappearances and comatose persons. These incidents would have been overlooked had Princess Maako not decided to try and solve these difficult cases herself. This is interesting for the people since they believe that Princess Maako Doroneia Edilius possesses the power of illusion.
Before Alcaland had been annexed into the Soviet Union, the country's many psychics were commonly employed to investigate such issues. However, psychics were oppressed while Alcaland was part of the Soviet Union, which caused the psychic population to dwindle to what it is today. As a result, Alcaland had to ask for outside help to deal with their problems.
To help her decide on whom to ask, the princess used twenty-year-old documents which showed Japan as having the greatest advancements in the field of investigation. Based on this, and the fact that Japan has a very deep history, the princess assumed that the country had very powerful psychics and asked Japan for help. Basing such a decision on incorrect assumptions and outdated reports may seem ill-conceived to most, however this truly shows the modernity of Alcaland.
The princess felt that help would be appropriate given the great sacrifices that Alcaland had made for Japan in the past. In the shallow history of Alcaland, it is said that a small (and possibly overlooked), armed yacht was sent to aid Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. Because of this, Alcaland considers itself, even today, Japan's number one ally. It is appropriate to send aid to your allies when they are in need. Although, given this example it would seem that Japan may have many allies that it is not aware of.
How would you react to an ally who asked for serious aid in the form of psychics? Not having the resources to fulfill such a strange request, the Japanese Foreign Ministry was at a loss for what to do.
When a ministry representative contacted the metropolitan police department regarding this issue, the police responded harshly asking "Two things: Where would we get the resources for that, and why should we care!?" The representative felt that even a country such as Alcaland deserved help when it was in need, yet this meant that the ministry was, again, at a loss.
The crisis was saved by a bipartisan group of Diet members. They were not so unsympathetic as to forget their debt of gratitude after a single defeat in the war, and they had loosened their heads enough to have some understanding of psychic powers. At their own expense, and with a little help from some very generous sources, they set the Agency in motion. The culture of self-financing is always so beautiful.
The trouble is the Agency. The agency has refrained from dispatching psychics outside the country due to its relations with neighboring countries. In addition, there was no criminal investigation ability. However, the Japanese family art is not only self-financing.
There are also subcontractors and bellyaching.
The Shinrei Agency used Suzuki, a returnee, to contact and contract with private psychics to help the police force. He succeeded in sending them.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a fax to Alcaland stating that they would take good care of the situation, and exactly five minutes later the Spiritual Agency sent a fax stating that they would send psychics. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not break precedent, nor does it offend its neighbours. But the Japanese nation as a whole has done its duty.
Thus, Japan's face was saved again. With a great diversions and a few grimaces.