Review: Dodge Prodigious Purple Projectiles in Arcade Classic Mushihimesama

Screenshot: Mushihimesama

There are some games that can be described as, or describe themselves as “bullet hell” but I haven’t played a game that matched that description quite as much as Mushihimesama, a strange title from Japan that was sort of infamous as an extremely difficult arcade game, at least in the arcades I frequented when I was younger. I got a chance to play the version ported over to Nintendo Switch, and I’m happy to say that it’s just as fun on the Switch as in arcade.

Mushihimisama is a bullet hell shoot ‘em up where you take control of a princess, riding a bug, fighting giant bugs. First of all, while not all of the top down shoot ‘em ups are usually some sort of craft—either air or space—Mushihimesama distinguishes itself visually with its purples, greens, and the fact you’re fighting giant bugs. And these bugs are impressive, with the largest filling up the entire screen—that is, when the screen isn’t covered in bullets. Even on Mushihimesama’s easiest mode, the amount of projectiles on screen at once is absolutely insane. It goes both ways, though, because after getting enough power-ups, you will be able to dole out a massive amount of your own bullets.

Screenshots: Mushihimesama

In Mushihimesama you fly around trying to dodge bullets, while shooting enemies. You have a gun that fires in fast mode where you can still fly around freely, or a concentrated fire mode that slows down your craft. While most shoot ‘em ups let you change the behavior of your gun with pickups,  that isn’t the case here. Instead, when you first start your run, you have the option between three types of shots, with a spread gun, a not-so-spread gun, and one that concentrates fire (which is my favorite). There are scarce few pick-up types available. You can get extra fighters in your formation to shoot more projectiles, or extra bombs—and that’s it. But really, that’s enough, because Mushihimesama makes you feel powerful right off the bat, making it all about dodging those prodigious purple projectiles. If you find yourself in a corner with no way to avoid damage, you can always toss a bomb which eradicates all projectiles on the screen—something that can be used strategically to mow down bosses without much trouble.

I think Mushihimesama, even in its classic arcade mode, is one of the most difficult bullet hell games I’ve played. And the Nintendo Switch version has two modes above that, with Maniac and Ultra modes increasing the difficulty, and number of projectiles on the screen at once. Ultra mode even has a warning before you enter that asks: “Are you prepared to battle sheer despair?” And it means it. But since there are no quarters required, you can continue all you want.

Screenshot: Mushihimesama

While Mushihimesama looks great on the Nintendo Switch, it also does a good job emulating the arcade experience. I remember how the arcade used to slow down to a crawl when there was a massive amount of explosions and projectiles on the screen, and the Nintendo Switch port does the same. It is a bit hard to play the undocked mode on the Nintendo Switch, due to how small the screen is—but it’s not impossible. There are options to change the game screen size through adjusting its width and height—but since it uses a strange, long aspect ratio, it’s hard to fill the screen in a satisfying way without distorting the image. There are also several different background wallpapers that can be employed, and you can set your favorite—or have them cycle between the available selection.

I was a bit biased coming into Mushihimesama—it’s always been a favorite of mine. But that means I’ve always been extra discerning of its Nintendo Switch port, and I really think it’s a great fit for the Nintendo Switch. Since it’s an arcade game, it’s great for quick play sessions, making it a great choice for portable gaming. That is, if you keep track of your tiny avatar on Nintendo Switch’s small screen—a feat I accomplished with some difficulty with my aging eyes. Overall, Musihimesama is a beloved classic, and a great fit for Nintendo Switch.

Screenshot: Mushihimesama

Mushihimesama is available now on Nintendo Switch—and it’s also available in slightly different version on Windows.




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Antal Bokor
Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian.
He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.

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