Clockwise from bottom-left: Fossil Maiden, Deadliar, Kagura, Minogame. The two little Mistletoes in the center: Saraga-maru and Togari-maru. In the back: The Cardinal Shaft.
AN AWESOME PRAYER IS CONFLICT WITH US
KEEP YOUR DIGNITY
Hellsinker is a doujinshooter developed by the circle Ruminant's Whimper. A cursory look at a video or image of the game will show you that it is rather complex. Eschewing the shmup tradition of simple mechanics, Hellsinker has at least 10 bars on the heads-up display, each with at least one type of item that fills or empties them. To be sure, it is not a game for the casual player.Even in the original Japanese, the game's story is confusing. From what has been gathered, the game is set in a human colony after a central device (known as "The Device") breaks down for mysterious reasons. Most people die, but a small group manages to use small fragments of the Device to survive. The group of survivors gradually rebuild, and begin to track down more parts of the Device to understand the technology of the precursors. A group known as the Graveyard, which includes the player characters, tries to go to a part of the Device known as the Cardinal Shaft located on the artificial island "Paradise" to do research. However, they encounter hostile robots called Prayers and were repelled on two previous occasions. Hellsinker focuses on the third attempt.There's also something about a lost cat waiting for its owner.As you might guess, much of this game remains mysterious, even seven years after it's been released. If you want a game that really gives you a genuine sense of discovery, go for Hellsinker - just expect to sink some time into it.Now has a Character Page.An english patch is available here by Gensokyo.org.The English patch became official as a result of the game being released as part of Let's Build A Doujin Bundle 2!. It could be purchased from October 16, 2013 to October 27, 2013.Information on the game mechanics can be found on this wiki (Japanese) and this forum thread (English).In addition to HELLSINKER, there is a fanmade spinoff called PUZZSINKER.
This game provides examples of:
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Segment 4 is called "Secret Passage ~ Garden Sewage System" and is big enough to house the monstrously big Rusted Dragon.
Abnormal Ammo: All those lasers and bullets are comprised of microscopic creatures known as Faint Ones. Executors and Prayers are exerting their will onto the Faint Ones instead of actually firing anything.
If you keep the first two Transporters in Segment 1 Lead alive throughout the stage, they'll self-destruct when you reach the endboss Rex Cavalier, killing him before he can do anything. However, this requires ignoring most enemies while they fire at you, so as not to kill the Transporters, and the lack of killing enemies means you won't get a lot of Stella or any of the three forms of score.
Deadliar's secret attack, the 60-second charged sword. When the charge process is finished, it will be powerful enough to one-shot even most of the bosses. However, during the charge-up, you cannot use your main weapon; you can use your subweapon, but often times the standard blade attack, main shot, and Narrow Pierce are particularly important attacks.
If you are playing for score, the Revive token. It's a 1-Up, but it will not give you the Immortality bonus if you are already in Immortal status.
All of the main characters have one. When active, it suppresses most enemy bullets, slowing them down and eventually nullifying them. In Solidstate and Aspirant modes, it activates when not firing, or when holding down the fire button. In Adept, it only activates when holding down the fire button.
BFS: During the boss fight in segment 6, there is a giant blade floating around, and in the end of the segment you can see your character almost landing on it, and then you see how absolutely huge the blade is. It is apparently the key to the next level.
Blue and Orange Morality: Discussed regarding the Prayers: that they either have a really weird sense of morality or none at all.
Body-Count Competition: There's a kill counter on the HUD. Interstingly, killing parts of enemies rather than the enemy itself counts as individual kills. You get a Breakthrough extra life at 2,500 kills, or 5,000 if you've already hit the Spirit Breakthrough. Timing out a boss, except in certain circumstances, will cut the kill counter for the stage in half, explained as half of dead targets being revived.
If you kill the four bosses of the Shrine of Farewell fast enough, you'll face an unnamed fifth one. You can't damage it, but you can shoot the Scary Stupas that accompany it to beef up your Kill count.
Of course, the bosses of the two extra stages.
Bonus Feature Failure: The two extra stages do not have high score tables. The only in-game way of recording high scores is to save replays.
Bonus Level: There are two extra stages in the game; one focuses on score and the other on survival.
Boring, but Practical: Kagura's Infernal Sabbath doesn't have Attack Drones or other fancy attacks, its only outstanding gimmick being that you can adjust its spread. This makes it a very useful shot type for beginners.
One is in the Shrine of Farewell. You fight four bosses, with a Kaname Stone after each one. Additionally, you're on a time limit — take too long to kill them all and the stage will immediately end. Fortunately, you get infinite lives, but dying reduces the potential to get your Spirits back.
The other takes place at the end of Segment 5 — Perpetual Calendar has five phases, with more bosses between each phase. You don't get the benefit of infinite lives here.
Bottomless Magazines: Subverted. Continuing to fire for long periods of time will reduce your Luna gauge, weakening your firepower; collecting Luna tokens or not firing will recharge the gauge. However, the worst that will happen is being reduced to minimal firepower, rather than not being able to fire at all.
Brutal Bonus Level: Subverted; there are two bonus stages, but neither of them are harder than the main game.
Bullet Hell: Mostly uses fast and/or large bullets rather than small ones.
Button Mashing: Some characters have special attacks activated by mashing hard on the fire button.
Tuning Dipsw. means options menu. Might be a Shout-Out to the options-changing dipswitches on older arcade cabinets.
Away means exit the game. And that's not even all of them...
Cap: You can choose your max number of lives, from 5 to 7. When you hit max lives, every extra life from that point on will instead grant an "Immortality" bonus. Each time you get Immortality, the bonus increases. Obviously, those playing for score should set their max lives to 5, although beginners not concerned about score should use 7 max lives instead.
Cat Girl: Nine Lives, Million Lives. Technically not the unnamed 771, who is a cat turned into a girl.
Cool Key: The giant sword in Segment 6 is called "The Key" and is necessary in order to open up the passageway to the "Irreversible Lane" where Segment 7 takes place.
Using a continue, as per genre tradition, resets your Spirits, kill count, and token count. In addition, it prevents you from getting a good ending. Also, you only get one continue, which is disabled after the Shrine of Farewell if you still have it, making simply seeing the final stages difficult.
If you want to hold onto your Spirits, it may be better to quit when you get to the Shrine of Farewell if you can't get at least 200 crystals* Crystals are obtained by playing well against each boss, and you gain 1/200 of your swiped spirits back per crystal. However, crystals fall from the top in a cascading pattern, and not all earned crystals can be collected., unless you can score high enough in subsequent stages.
Continuity Nod: The Stage 6 BOSS theme is a remix of a theme from an earlier Ruminant's Whimper game, Radio Zonde.
Kagura's equipments are named after some of the Radio Zonde bosses.
Cut Song: The game has a fair number of tracks hidden in the games files that seem to never have made the final cut. While some of them are incomplete and some just simple remixes of some songs, others are more complex original songs and remixes. This one, for example, sounds like it was to be used as a stage theme.
Cyberspace: The extra stages take place within a graphical manifestation of the Garland system that also shows us Amber's thoughts as it attempts to fulfill her wish.
Deadly Walls: Subverted; if a player runs into a wall, they will simply get some knockback, but that knockback may very well send you into a bullet if you aren't careful.
Death from Above: Sunken Bishop will attempt to snipe you from above in Segment 3L.
Deflector Shields: All ships are surrounded by a blue circle when performing a ship-specific action (like using the sword, in Fossilmaiden's case). The circle does heavy damage, slows bullets, and turns some bullet types into pickup items.
Level impacts the range that Stella will fluctuate between. It only affects stage select and not the main campaign.
Way of Life determines the maximum number of lives. Higher settings are obviously safer, but lower settings allow you to get bonuses from collecting hearts at max lives sooner.
Bootleg Ghost determines auto-bombing behavior. "Aspirant" only auto-bombs if you have 5 Sol and <4 lives and "Solidstate" will auto-bomb any time you have enough to do so; either way, you can only auto-bomb 3 times per stage. "Adept" disables auto-bomb altogether.
Disc One Final Dungeon: Segment 5, the Garden Huge Archive. Completing it brings you into the Cardinal Shaft itself, but not before fighting...
Dynamic Difficulty: This game has a rank system similar to, but not as extreme as, Battle Garegga. Unlike in Battle Garegga, players can actually see the rank by means of a visible meter. Keeping the rank high is essential to getting high scores.
Easy-Mode Mockery: Short Mission gives you only a subset of the game's 9 segments. On the other hand, it still counts towards unlocks.
Enemies with Death: If you get to the continue screen, it says "The death is waiting for you, do not bore him". Then you can choose either to surrender (game over) or to deceive him (continue).
The secret forms of Rusted Dragon and Perpetual Calendar do this, as well as any enemy that uses Misteltoes as weapons.
Technically, all enemies that fire bullets that can be slowed down by your suppression radius are this trope, as those bullets are actually microscopic spirits called "Faint Ones" rather than traditional ammunition.
Collecting enough heart icons will grant you extra lives. However, each time you do so, the number of hearts for the next life increases, unless you're playing as a particular character and shot type combonote Kagura with Infernal Sabbath, who gets an extend every 28 hearts. Additionally, the number of hearts needed varies between characters.
When you reach get enough Spirits or kills, you get a "BREAKTHROUGH"; you gain an extra life and your Extend counter is re-initialized, making it easier to get further extra lives.
Everyone Knows Morse: There are morse codes all over the place. Most notable is the boss warnings and the attack names during the first part of the final battle.
Final Boss: Three of them, actually. You unlock one of them by attacking the penultimate boss, Unnamed 290, to fill up the Satisfaction gauge, which ranges from level 0 to level 3. You must get the meter up to at least level 1 to fight one of them, or else you get a Downer Ending.
Four Is Death/Numerological Motif: There are four playable characters (and Kagura has four shot types), there are 8 (4*2) Segments, the Shrine of Farewell has four titled bosses and four Kaname Stones, four of the Prayer bosses are titled "Heroic Dead", the first form of the final boss has four Satisfaction Levels (counting 0), and the Quadruple Ones are four children.
Gainax Ending: As expected. Even the epilogue from beating the extra stages is this.
Game-Breaking Bug: Due to the way Direct3D works, if you switch focus out of the game while it is in fullscreen, the game turns windowed and the game window turns gray, rendering the game unplayable unless you restart it.
Genius Loci: Heavily hinted regarding the Cardinal Shaft.
Guide Dang It: Even configuring the game is very confusing, to say nothing of getting a hold of the mechanics.
The True Final Boss and the Bonus Boss of the second extra stage are unkillable; the only way to win is through time out. (But if you're interested in score, you should still try and attack them.)
The hidden Kaleidoscope form of Perpetual Calendar is an odd variation; if you unlock that form, the battle only ends via time out... but each time you "kill" Perpetual Calendar in that form, you increase Terra, which lets you delay your entry into the Shrine of Farewell.
Rex Cavalier in Segment 7 also has a hidden indestructible form if you defeat his first form fast enough.
Minogame's laser subweapon jumps from enemy to enemy. Oddly, it stays on one enemy in the form of a black circle until the target's HP is depleted.
Fossil Maiden can deploy them with two rapid taps of the fire button when at max Luna.
Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: From easy to hard, there is "Limited", "Compressed", and "Distorted", although these represent different ranges of the Dynamic Difficulty more than fixed difficulty levels. The game is set to "Unchained" by default, which encompasses all difficulty levels, and other settings are only available in Segment Location mode.
The Level 2 Final Boss has garbled text for a name.
During the battle against Lost Property 771, the screen colors invert.
It's Up to You: Averted at first; it's made quite clear that you are not fighting alone. However, if you are playing as Deadliar, his dialogue with Togari-Maru in Segment 3L indicades that they're ahead of the squad, and by Segment 4 they're the first to reach the island and are on their own.
Most enemies just have a percentage over their components, including the central part needed to destroy them. The humanoid enemies, however, have life bars shown at the top of the screen, along with their names and current attack name.
Inverted with Garland, the level 3 Final Boss. It starts with an empty lifebar and you have to fill it up by shooting Garland before time runs out to get to Lost Property 771, the True Final Boss.
Also inverted in the form of Unnamed 290, the penultimate boss, and its three-stage Satisfaction meter.
The Maze: Segment 5 takes you through the labyrinths of the Archives. You can occasionally switch between the Sol side and the Luna side via portals.
Marathon Boss: Some bosses (namely Glorious Symbol and Rex Cavalier) can become this if you don't know how do deal with them. But even if you do know how to fight them, most boss fights will still last slightly longer than most shmup bosses do.
Marathon Level: Segment 5 takes a long time to complete because of the Boss Bonanza. Taking as long as ten minutes is not uncommon.
Mercy Invincibility: Indicated by the background turning yellow (although this can be disabled).
Mercy Mode: Lose enough lives in the first three segments and you'll enter "Regen Assist" mode and start regenerating lives slowly but surely. This is lampshaded in the manual as getting assistance from fellow Executors.
Strangely enough, Version 0.95 of the game was almost perfectly normal. After it was released, the creator disappeared from the Internet for a while before creating a rather cryptic new website and releasing the full game at Comiket 72.
This gem from a translation of the configuration screen:
Mundane Made Awesome: As you fight Garland and fill its invertedLife Meter to full, you see text indicating that it's also a lost-and-found service, returning Lost Property 771 to you as the battle rages on.
Nintendo Hard: It would appear to be at first, due to the convolutedinterface. Once you get past that, however, it's relatively on par with other Bullet Hell games, and has several utilities to help make the game easier, such as a constantly-regenerating Smart Bomb and lots of opportunities for 1-ups. It is still not a trivial game to clear, as the bullets are fast rather than dense, but it just takes plenty of practice, like any other Shoot 'em Up.
No Antagonist: Despite the presence of the Prayers, there are no real antagonists in the game and the Prayers are just guarding the Cardinal Shaft and are not openly hostile to the Executors.
No Name Given / You Are Number Six: Many enemies are labeled "Unnamed n", where n is between 100 and 999. While a lot of enemies bear this naming scheme, it gets ridiculous in the final Segment, where ALL non-boss enemies except for a small squad of Mono-Wingsnote The single-wing enemies that have already been encountered in Segments 1L, 1B, and 4 are unnamed, even the strange red enemies near the end.
In Segment 7, if you time out Rex Cavalier on your last life, your character is driven to insanity from "spirit overload" and you get an ending that implies that he or she turns into yet another Prayer.
In Segment 8, failing to bring the penultimate boss's Satisfaction Level to at least 1 results in an ending where you don't any of the Final Bosses and the player character is locked inside the Cardinal Shaft.
One-Hit-Point Wonder: All characters take one hit before losing a life, as per Bullet Hell standards, but on lower difficulties, you have a chance of auto-bombing when hit instead of losing a life.
Our Fairies Are Different: Misteltoes generally resemble a naked fairy on the top half, with a semicircular crystal for a lower body. They are also cold and metallic to the touch.
Overheating: Firing your main weapon continuously consumes your Luna gauge, causing your shot power to decrease if you fire for prolonged periods of time. Depending on your character, your Subweapon gauge will also decrease. Not firing, as well as collecting Luna chips, will replenish the Luna gauge and restore your shot power.
Pinball Scoring: The world high score is only 130,000 Spirits, so at first glance it seems like it wouldn't apply, but in fact the score has four decimal places.
Schizophrenic Difficulty: According to the segment difficulty levels shown in Short Mission, Segment 5 is easier than Segment 4, and Segment 7 easier than 6.
Scoring Points: There are three scoring systems, all independent of each other.
Spirit is the game's main metric of performance. It's increased slowly simply by surviving and shooting enemies, although certain actions will make it increase significantly. Timing out a boss takes away half of your spirits, and going to the Shrine of Farewell swipes all of them away, though with the opportunity to recover anywhere from 0% to about 200% of your initial spirits.
Secret Level: The Shrine of Farewell is an odd variation - if you run out of Terra in a Segment, then the Shrine will be the next level you enter. The level after that will be the next Segment as normal, and you will not be able to enter the Shrine for the rest of the playthrough. However if you complete Segment 7 without entering the Shrine in that playthrough, then you will go there before the final stage (Segment 8). In short, the shrine is a mandatory stage, but it can appear between different stages.
Sensory Abuse: The final battle as well as the extra stages, full stop.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: The difficulty this time around is much more manageble than the absolutly merciless Radio Zonde.
Shout-Out: Kagura's 2nd equipment type, Elliptical Chariot, is a reference to the obscure Psikyo game Dragon Blaze.
Skippable Boss: Rusted Dragon, the Segment 4 boss, does not appear if you've already gone through the Shrine of Farewell.
Smart Bomb: All characters have one (Kagura even has four) that can be launched if you have 3 or higher SOL power. If you have 5 SOL, then they will launch a more powerful version of the bomb.
There is also the Solidstate mode where if you have 3 or more SOL then it will clear the screen right away for a while if you are hit. However, you can only have 3 solidstates per stage, and in the Shrine of Farewell, they are disabled altogether.
Solar and Lunar: Sol and Luna, two of the central forces in the game. Minogame is stated to be able to freely manipulate these forces.
Songs in the Key of Panic: Unlocking the Spirit Kernel form of the Scarlet Queen, the Segment 2 Lead boss, triggers a short, ridiculously fast arrangement of the boss theme that plays during her battle.
Radio Zonde might have happened in the same world as Hellsinker, considering the in-game references.
Spirit World: The Shrine of Farewell is an unusual take on this trope. The best way to describe it is as a spiritual dump where heroes considered unworthy of preservation and generally stuff no-one wants anything to do with end up.
Star Scraper: The Cardinal Shaft is so tall it reaches the clouds.
The Stinger: Once you've obtained 100% Completion and exited the game, the game window doesn't close just yet. You get one final message from the Garland System, informing you more-or-less that your mission is finally over before shutting down. Then the game finally closes.
Once you complete the first four segments on one credit, you unlock the "Lead" versions of Segments 1-3, and are given the option between the Lead path ("Lead the charge") or the default Behind path ("Bring up the rear").
Happens again in Segment 5, where you are given the option of choosing either the Sol Cathedral or the Luna Crypt. You can change sides via the optional portals scattered throughout either sub-stage, and which side you're on when you face the miniboss decides which bosses you face between Perpetual Calendar's forms.
Then there's the Short Mission mode, in which you play only 6 of the 9 segments, and with the exception of the 6th and final one, you decide which segments to play.
Super Prototype: Kagura is one of the earlier-made Misteltoes. It's also the only Misteltoe that is capable of performing missions on its own.
All the bosses are this. When the timer runs out, however, they move on, the game tells you that they lost interest, and you lose half of your Spirit, kill count, and tokens. See also Hold the Line above.
Rex Cavalier inverts this at first, but if you are on your last life, then you must defeat his Spirit Kernel form before time runs out or else you get a Nonstandard Game Over.
The pre-Final Boss, Unnamed 290, must have its Satisfaction meter filled up to level 1 or higher when the time limit runs out, or else it's missionfailure.
Garland, the level 3 Final Boss, must have its meter filled up by shooting at it before time runs out, or else you don't get to fight Lost Property 771.
Glorious Symbol in Segment 2 Behind, if you haven't unlocked Segment 2 Lead yet for the less-painful Scarlet Queen. The patterns aren't exactly endgame-tier brutal, but it will be a chore whittling down its health, especially if you don't have a reliable means of attacking in directions besides up, as it will drift all over the screen.
Rusted Dragon, although you skip him if you have already been to the Shrine of Farewell.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Executors in general are seen as inhuman by the general society. This is also one of the more troubling questions regarding the Prayers: whether or not they still can be considered humans.
A Winner Is You: There is almost no ending if the Satisfaction Level is at 0 after the first Segment 8 boss was defeated - although that's more of a Non-Standard Game Over. Satisfaction Level 1 and 2 actually gives you a rather long ending, but if you managed to get Satisfaction Level 3 and defeat the True Final Boss, all you get is a screen that says "The End" and then you are sent back to the title screen. You get to unlock the extra stages this way, though, and after beating both of them you will finally see the true ending.