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Video Game / Batsugun

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Batsugun is a Bullet Hell Shoot 'Em Up made by Toaplan in 1993, and their final one as well before their bankruptcynote . You play as one of six fighter pilots of the Skull Hornets squadron, piloting amphibious planes to stop a global takeover operation by King Renoselva A. Gladebaran VII.

An Updated Re-release, Batsugun Special Version, was released in 1994, effectively serving as an Arrange Mode with many differences.

The game has received multiple ports:

  • Batsugun for Sega Saturn (1996) — Ported by Gazelle (one of Toaplan's child companies after they closed down) and published by Banpresto. This version of the game features both the original version and Special Version, as well as the choice of an arrange soundtrack made for this port in addition to the original arcade soundtrack.
  • Sega Astro City V (2022) — Ported and published by Sega. A microconsole that features a collection of arcade games, with the orignal version of Batsugun among them. This is the only reissue of the game not to feature Special Version.
  • BATSUGUN Saturn Tribute Boosted for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam (2023note ) — Ported by City Connection. This a a port of the Sega Saturn release, and thus has both the original and Special versions. It additionally adds some convenience features like savestates, gadgets to display real-time information, and rewinds, online leaderboards, and a new "Boosted Arrange" soundtrack alongside the original, PCB, and Saturn arrange versions. The soundtrack can be changed as a whole or mixed-and-matched (e.g. one can use the original soundtrack for Stage 1, the Boosted Arrange soundtrack for Stage 2, etc.) to the player's tastes.
  • BATSUGUN EXA LABEL for the exA-Arcadia arcade hardware platform (June 16, 2023) — Ported and developed by Team EXA-AM1. This release brings the game to modern arcade hardware, and features the original and Special versions of the game, although Special Version can be disabled in the operator menu to enforce arcade-standard difficulty. Two new Arrange Modes are introduced: Special' (spoken as "Special Dash"), a compressed version of Special Version, and EXA Label, which introduces scoring mechanics centered around grazing bullets and bombing. It also features gadgets (a different set from the Saturn Tribute Boosted version) and an arrange soundtrack exclusive to this version, allows players to choose any character regardless of whether they are on the Player 1 side or Player 2 side, and officially translates character dialogue to English for the first time.
  • Toaplan Arcade Shoot 'Em Up Collection Vol. 3 for PC via Steam and GOG (February 1st, 2024) — Ported and published by Bitwave Games. A PC port of both the original and "Special" arcade versions with the same features as the Saturn Tribute Boosted, plus several new ones, such as dipswitch settings, region switching, hitbox visibility and others, but without the additional soundtracks.

Contains the following tropes:

  • Antagonistic Offspring: Olisis R. Gradebaran, Player 2's pilot of the Type-C ship, is the son of King Renoselva and strongly opposes his father.
  • Arrange Mode:
    • Special Version serves as this to the original game:
      • The characters' hitboxes are smaller.
      • Instead of a cluster of orbs for a bomb, the bomb is simply one big blast.
      • Yellow pigs spawn in more locations now; the old yellow pig spawn locations are replaced by pink pigs who give out lots of EXP.
      • After completing the game, the game loops, up to four times, with enemies firing revenge bullets that come out in more dangerous patterns with each successive loop. Also, each subsequent loop starts on the next lowest stage, so loop 2 begins on stage 2, loop 3 begins on stage 3, and loop 4 begins on stage 4, for a total of 14 stages.
      • Every time you fill up the EXP meter, you gain a Single-Use Shield.
    • The EXA LABEL port introduces a few more:
      • Special' (Special Dash), which is Special Version but condensed down to a 1-loop game of stages 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 3-4, and 4-5, meaning you get revenge bullets almost immediately.
      • EXA LABEL mode itself introduces a grazing system; getting close to enemy bullets will cause them to glow white and increase an on-screen counter. To facilitate this mechanic, enemies fire streams of revenge bullets upon destruction, as if playing Special Version on higher loops. Firing a bomb will cancel bullets (including bullets generated by destroyed enemies during the bomb animation) into point items, the values of which are multiplied by your counter at the moment your bomb was fired; afterwards, your counter will decrease significantly. EXA LABEL EXTREME mode is a harder variant of this mode with denser revenge bullets.
  • Breaking Old Trends: The original version of the game is notable for being the only Toaplan game to not have loops; it ends after clearing Stage 5. However, Special Ver. does feature loops again.
  • Bullet Hell: This game is one of the first Shoot Em Ups to have a plentiful amount of bullets fired by the enemy, making it the Trope Maker. That said, it's still sparse by modern standards, and the bullets move pretty fast — it's still very much a Toaplan shmup.
  • Compressed Adaptation: In EXA LABEL, Special' condenses all four loops of Special Version into one. Stage 1 is still based on loop 1, but Stage 2 is based on loop 2, Stages 3 and 4 are based on loop 3, and Stage 5 is based on loop 4. This is done so that a player can't just clear the game as easily (Special Version is regarded by many players as relatively easy to do a "1-ALL" playthrough on), although if the operator wishes, there is a toggle to enable regular Special mode.
  • Defector from Decadence: Olisis, the pilot of Player 2's Type-C ship, is actually the son of the Revolutionary Army leader but abandoned his family and joined the government's army to stop his own father.
  • Evolving Weapon: By destroying enemies, you're able to level up your ship, which upgrades your shot type. This happens twice, after which, filling the experience meter while at level 3 gives you an extra bomb stock instead. The Type-A ship gains missiles in Level 2, and the main Spread Shot begins swaying its side shots in Level 3. Type-B gains side-shots in Level 2, and gains a homing lightning beam in Level 3. Type-C gains side-options that shoot lasers in Level 2, and some of the projectiles spawned when the main shot's waves split home in Level 3.
  • Experience Points: Destroying enemies will add to your EXP meter; when it fills up, your ship and main weapon take on new forms, and exclusively in Special Ver., a Single-Use Shield is granted if you don't already have one. Once you reach Level 3, filling up the EXP bar will generate a bomb item instead of upgrading your ship.
  • Golden Snitch: If playing for score, the majority of it will be obtained by utilizing a specific secret in the boss fight against Jupiter, the Stage 4 boss. You need to destroy all 5 of its spires and the two laser turrets. Jupiter then spawns turrets from where the laser turrets were. If you then bomb these turrets or shoot them down while your bomb is active, you gain a massive score bonus from all of the turrets you take down.
  • Hard Mode Perks: In EXA LABEL, EXA LABEL EXTREME mode features even more bullets, but because this game's new scoring system is centered around bullet grazing, this allows a player to much more easily farm points.
  • If It Swims, It Flies: The players' ships take off and engage in combat underwater in the first stage, before taking to the air for the remaining four stages.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The original game is fairly difficult due to a combination of devious enemy patterns and placements and a relatively chunky hitbox by Bullet Hell standards.
    • The Special Version greatly alleviates the difficulty by making hitboxes smaller and offering more resources, although four loops are now needed to truly complete the game with the second loop having enemy revenge bullets and subsequent loops introducing fiercer variants of those bullets, with the one solace being that each loop has one fewer stage.
    • Special' mode in EXA LABEL kicks the difficulty back up by compressing all four loops into one, throwing revenge bullets at the player as early as the second stage! Notably, if the operator wants to enforce this trope in EXA LABEL, they can turn off non-Dash Special mode.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Iceman, the pilot of Player 1's Type-C ship, is a mercenary who only joined the government army for the money.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo:
    • Schneider, the pilot of Player 2's Type-A ship, is the main protagonist of Sky Shark.
    • Jeego, the pilot of Player 1's Type-A ship, is revealed to be one of the protagonists of Out Zone in his ending.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Beltiana, the pilot of Player 1's Type-B ship, seeks revenge for her sister's death.
  • Screen Crunch: If playing on Saturn in horizontal mode, the playfield is trimmed vertically, which makes it easier to see sprites but also reduces your playing space.
  • Shout-Out: Stage 1's boss is called "Deep Purple".
  • Single-Use Shield: In Special Ver., every time you fill the EXP meter, your ship will be granted a shield that can withstand one hit, indicated by a while trail that your ship leaves behind.
  • Spiritual Predecessor: Many of the aspects of the DonPachi series were set in place in this game. The Type-A and Type-B ships in Batsugun would become the Type-C and Type-A ships in DonPachi, and the idea of Bullet Hell started in Batsugun would be refined in DoDonPachi. Considering that much of Batsugun's staff, such as artist Junya Inoue and programmer Tsuneki Ikeda, would later work on the DonPachi series under Cave, Batsugun can be considered the bridge between the games of Toaplan and Cave.
  • Version-Exclusive Content:
    • EXA LABEL exclusively features Exa Label and its "Extreme" variant, as well as Special' mode which serves as a Compressed Adaptation of Special Version. It also features an exclusive arrange soundtrack by Heishi Yonao.
    • The Saturn Tribute Boosted version released on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam features a Boosted Remix soundtrack produced by a variety of arrangers.