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Developers Cave have become renowned for their excellent iOS ports of their quality bullet hell shooters, such as Dodonpachi Resurrection and Deathsmiles. Their latest port is actually one of their golden oldies. Bug Princess was originally released in 2004, and the creative dual stick shooter Mushihimesama: BUG PANIC is actually something of a sequel to this title. It's a well made bullet hell with great art and gameplay, and will definitely appeal to fans of the genre.
You take on the role of Princess Reco as she tries to save a village from swarms of massive insects. The story is just framework for the gameplay, as is usual in these titles. The simple touch controls are well done. The gameplay screen is framed, leaving you room at the bottom to hit buttons and move the Princess without blocking your view. Shooting is all automatic as you move, and you can unleash bullet clearing bombs if you ever get cornered. If you have auto-bomb enabled, they act as a safety net, allowing you to get hit and recover instead of die.
There are three modes to choose from; Original, Maniac, and Ultra. The latter two need to be unlocked by beating Original mode. After selecting your mode, you can choose between novice, normal, hard, and hell levels of difficulty. Stages can be played in an all-stage sequential course, or one at a time in score attack mode. Before you do that, you'll be able to choose between three firing modes, called, M, W, and S-Power. W-Power is a wide shot, useful for taking on larger groups of weak enemies, while S-Power is a much more concentrated shot. It noticeably takes bosses and big enemies down quicker, but you'll need to maneuver much more. M-Power is the happy balance between the two, all around useful and better for new players. Enemies will drop upgrades to your shot as well as "Option Beetles," which act as little companion auto laser turrets. Beetles can form around you in a wide formation or trace your movements around the screen.
This game has a fantastic and unique art style. The colorful effects and amber gem score pickups really contrast with the more muted enemies and backgrounds. There's a useful practice mode that lets you play any level in any way you want, and plenty of options to tweak the game to your liking. You can even view a brief history of the franchise from the options menu. My only complaint is that the load times are way too long, and many people are reporting crashing issues, so be wary of that. Both Game Center and OpenFeint achievements and leaderboards are supported, and the iOS Universal game can be yours for five dollars. If you've enjoyed Cave games in the past or just enjoy the bullet hell genre in general, you'll definitely get your money's worth here.